A couple of years ago, while I was clicking through Amazon’s books, I had a hunch. I clicked again and to my amazement, there it was. I was stunned. I’d written “How to Fall Out of Love” over thirty years ago. At the time it caused quite a stir. I was on Oprah 4 times, the Today show twice, five pages in People magazine, and profiled in the New York Times. But all that was so long ago. And yet, there the book was (and is) still in print.
I hadn’t really forgotten about “How to Fall Out of Love”. I’ve treated hundreds of patients, in my practice in Los Angeles, New York, and Paris who were in love and suffering because their love wasn’t returned or because they were in a dead end relationship. When I saw “How to Fall Out of Love” was still in print, thirty years later with no advertising, or PR, I realized it must be because my systematic, step by step program still works.
Of course I knew it works because with many changes and improvements, I’m still seeing a virtually 100 % success rate healing my patients with broken hearts.
If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Yes, the world has changed in almost every way since those days before the Internet, smart phones, personal computers, satellite TV, those long ago days when he wore bell bottom trousers and she wore flowers in her hair. But one thing hasn’t changed: Human nature hasn’t changed at all.
Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, to bring “How to Fall Out of Love” up to date.
Making a list of pleasurable scenes that do not include the ex-him or ex-her is easier said than done.
A twitter friend recently informed me that their list always includes the “EX” files, which made me smile….sadly. And made me want to write this blog.
Fact is, we have so many memories and dreams with someone when we’re in a relationship that when and if the relationship ends, one of the hardest things to get over is the good times and the HOPE for all the good times to come with him or her. When a relationship ends we not only miss that person in our life, talking to them on the phone, figuring out what to eat together, the ritual of bedtime, but we also miss the expectations of tomorrow. We anticipated a retirement that included Florida and dinner with our fancy friends and now we’re sitting alone in a one bedroom apartment in the city and the future seems flat, uneventful, and worst of all, impossible, now that they’re gone.
But believe me when I tell you, that is only the way it feels, it is not the way it is. I’ve treated thousands of patients with broken hearts and shattered dreams, people who found it difficult to be awake for five minutes without crying for the loss of of him or her who after just a few days (or weeks in the extreme cases) of being on my “How to Fall OUT of Love” program reported feeling a new zest for life and thinking about him or her only a couple times a week, instead of 5o plus times a day; patients who have learned to embrace their own dreams, or remember them, as the case may be, who have gone onto be successful, happy and flourishing people even after the devastation that the end of a relationship brings.
Your list is your own, you may prefer to use scenes of your own, or adapt someone else’s to suit your own. It doesn’t have to be a funny list or a sexy one or a serious one, or even a long list. It doesn’t have to be anything . . . only yours. You can be as outrageous or as plain as you like, nobody’s watching. The only rule is the list cannot include any images or scenes from the “EX” files.
Tomorrow we’ll talk more about why this works, and later on this week, we’ll get more into specific case histories. In the meantime, assess your broken heart here.
Chasing a gorilla out of your thoughts is easy compared to getting “him” or “her” out of your mind. Because so many sweet, delicious, angry, irritating etc. things linger in your mind. So many conversations left unfinished. So many private, tender things, circling around and around. It’s hard to stop thinking those thoughts. They are specific, repetitive and often very, very strong. But they can be stopped through a systematic behavioral program.
You can train a thought to stay away. You can starve a thought. Allowing a thought to come back time and again feeds that thought, reinforces it, makes it grow stronger, and all too often, more painful. Thought patterns about someone you love can become so strong that making up your mind to stop thinking about them isn’t enough. You need to actively, systematically inhibit those thoughts. And you need new thoughts to put in place of them.
Make a list.
Make a list of the best, most positive scenes and pleasures you can think of that do not involve that person.
So make a list of scenes, places, events and/or feelings that would give you great pleasure but do not involve “him” or “her.”
Your list is entirely your own. No one else needs to see it. Just writing the list helps you to become involved with pleasure without being involved with your former love.
It may be helpful to you to see some of my patient’s lists, even though they are probably nothing like your own list.
My book ”How to Fall out of Love” available in December, will have this and many other helpful hints or you may know someone who needs this book.
Click here to learn more about thought stopping.
Click here to learn more about my book “How to Fall out of Love”.
The most common problems stem from believing the childish fairy tale that one day you will find your perfect, perfect person, the one who will be right for you in every way. It’s an impossibly high hope that always leads to disappointment and broken relationships. There is no perfect person for you. One person cannot fulfill all your needs and expectations. And it is an unfair burden to expect them to carry.
A definition of love as giving and sharing means that you do not exploit the other person. It’s so easy to make demands or be critical, but less easy when another person’s needs are as important to you as your own. To be sure, there are plenty of people in love who play destructive or manipulative roles. But that’s not helpful to either partner. And usually we see one person being exploited, diminished and even damaged.
The best of love is a total acceptance of another person; an acceptance of weaknesses, mistakes and vulnerabilities along with the goodness and strengths. Accepting and being accepted means that you are free to be yourself in a relationship. You don’t have to play a role or feel you have to change yourself or your partner into someone slightly different.
So…..Love: If it hurts, it’s not worth it.
What do you feel? True or not true?
When I was on Oprah and The Today Show and literally hundreds of TV and radio shows across the country I was usually asked the same questions. I don’t know that any one interview went exactly like this, but close enough.
TV show host: Why did you become a therapist?
Me: I grew up in Brooklyn, NY. And while there was a lot of joy in Brooklyn, you didn’t have to look far to see suffering. I always wished people didn’t have to suffer. You could see anguish in so many faces. I wanted to see if I could do something that would help.
TVSH: But why behavior therapy?.
Me: Because it works.
TVSH: What makes you say that?
Me: Because it does. Behavior therapy works. People come into my office in pain and in a week, two weeks, a month,whatever, they are better. I think therapy ought to be held to the same standards as medicine. Don’t you? Like: What’s the problem? How are we going to fix it? And how long is it going to take?
Take a good look at yourself. And laugh. And take a good long look at the person you’d like to fall out of love with. And laugh again.
Being able to laugh at yourself and your predicament is the single most important indicator of a healthy, positive outlook. OK, maybe the world would be intolerable if we were all healthy, positive people. On the other hand, there’s no danger of too much laughter.Laughter is the best of all possible medicines for feeling depressed. Laughter gives you the perspective and breathing room you need.
But you probably don’t feel like laughing. When you are depressed, you don’t laugh, particularly at yourself, your situation or at “him” or “her.” My new book, How to Fall Out of Love (to be published at the end of the year) will help you unlearn the pain you feel in response to “him” or “her” by teaching you how to throw open the windows and learn a little humor in a refreshing and systematic way.