10 Steps To X Out Your Ex

Can’t stop obsessing over your ex? Learn how self-hypnosis can help lessen your breakup pain in a matter of minutes — including how to do it yourself anytime, anywhere in 10 quick, easy steps.

By Kimberly Dawn Neumann

rying to move forward in your dating life while still suffering the pain of lost love? Here’s one way to snap out of it: by learning self-hypnosis. According to certified clinical hypnotist Bryan Toder, practicing certain self-hypnosis techniques (such as disassociation) can help heartbroken or love-obsessed individuals feel as though a painful
We’re seriously in a hypnotic trance most of the day.
breakup happened months — even years — in the past. “While hypnosis won’t cause someone to ‘forget’ an ex — I mean, you’re not getting a lobotomy, you’ll still feel something — it can turn down the volume of the hurt almost instantly,” explains Toder. “It works because it allows your brain to process the old thoughts differently. Your old patterns are now new patterns, and like a broken record, can’t be played the same way again.” With self-hypnosis, you can stop rehashing things in your head and wondering why your relationship ended.

So, how does it work? Everyone has both a conscious and a subconscious mind, and the subconscious mind — which is highly suggestible — usually lurks in the background, but is never 100% turned off. “When you’re hypnotized, the conscious mind is moved to the back burner for a bit and the subconscious mind moves to the front. So if you’re given suggestions that are both safe and you already want to do — say, for weight loss or quitting smoking or to fix a relationship — they will be embedded in your subconscious mind and your behavior will change,” says Toder. “When you’re done with the hypnosis, your subconscious mind returns to the background and your conscious mind is now at the forefront once again.” But the new thought patterns you’ve established while you were hypnotized will linger on. Neat trick, huh?

Most of us regularly enter into a hypnotic state without even realizing it
The other thing you should know is that getting hypnotized is not some weird thing that only desperate people do. The truth is that most people already spend lots of their time hypnotized without even realizing it! “We’re seriously in a hypnotic trance most of the day… while watching TV, brushing your teeth, picking up a book to skim a few pages but having no idea what you just read, driving your car to work without remembering how you got there (highway hypnosis), or simply staring into a spot and daydreaming,” says Toder. “Anytime you don’t really have to think about something and your mind goes elsewhere, your subconscious mind is actually doing all the stuff for you — and that’s how hypnosis works.” So if you’re already doing it without realizing it, why not harness the power of hypnosis to help you forget about your ex?

It’s important to know that all hypnosis is also self-hypnosis. “When you listen to a professional hypnotist speak, you are actually hypnotizing yourself — you’re simply listening to someone telling you what to do. I may be the one giving you the steps to follow, but your mind is doing all the work,” advises Toder. “It’s nothing magical; it’s nothing mystical. It’s not like those shows on TV where someone waves a watch in front of you and your eyes suddenly glaze over.” Instead, it’s more like taking a deep breath and going through a subconscious process, like guided meditation.

Are you ready to give it a try? Then complete the following 10 steps — and in about 90 seconds, you can start putting your emotional baggage (read: that painful ex!) behind you.

Step 1: Take a deep breath and focus your mind
Hypnosis can be done with your eyes open or closed. Unless you want to quickly memorize all 10 steps, you should try this first with your eyes open; so, find a spot on the wall and just stare into it for a few seconds before proceeding. (Note: If you think closing your eyes will make you feel more relaxed, try recording these steps into your voicemail and playing them back as you follow along — just make sure to leave a long enough pause for you to complete each step). Whatever method you choose, begin by taking a deep breath in, and then slowly letting it out.

Step 2: Scan your body for any physical pain manifestations
Now, think about your ex and start mentally scanning your body for any spots where you feel physical pain. Surprisingly, painful emotions can actually cause a physical response in the sufferer. “If a live tiger was in front of you, your heart would race, you would probably break out in a cold sweat and have this fight-or-flight response — and that is a physical manifestation of an emotion,” explains Toder. “On a smaller scale, when you have a breakup, you may actually feel hurt, pain or another feeling in your stomach or heart.” Keep in mind that this feeling could show up anywhere, so try not to overanalyze this step in the process. Instead, just try to concentrate on locating any pain you might feel. What’s it like? Remember this feeling.

Step 3: Assign that feeling a specific shape
“The brain tends to store memories and feelings holographically (i.e., in 3-D),” says Toder. “Therefore, the feeling that you have — let’s say it’s in your chest — if you really think about it, it will actually have a specific shape.” It could be a star or a heart, a ball or just a blob — but if you really give it some thought, something particular should materialize in your
This technique really is a way to get a change occurring in people within minutes.
mind. (If it doesn’t, just assign it an arbitrary shape that corresponds with your current emotional state.)

Step 4: Move that shape approximately two feet away from your body
“This is how I help people get rid of pain. If someone has a headache, I ask [this person] to locate the pain and then move it away from [his/her] body,” says Toder. “Just imagine that the pain is floating in front of you.” If you’re having trouble figuring out how to mentally move something that doesn’t actually exist, pretending to do it should be enough to put you into a trance-like state (similar to daydreaming), according to Toder. So, imagine that you’re moving the pain away from your body until it’s floating in front of you so you can get a closer look.

Step 5: Inspect the object thoroughly from all sides
Now that you’ve got the shape you’ve assigned to your pain floating in front of you, it’s time to give it a thorough inspection. “Notice all of its qualities,” advises Toder. “Is it flat, or 3-D? Is it moving? What color is it? Is it smooth or rough? You’ll be surprised by your own answers.” As you inspect your “pain shape,” assign as many identifying features to it as you possibly can — the more specific, the better.

Step 6: Change the object’s identifying characteristics completely
Got a clear picture of what your breakup pain looks like? Good — now, change everything about it! If it’s yellow, turn it blue or imagine a pattern instead. If it’s the size of a rubber ball, turn it into a pea or shrink it down even smaller in size. These are the characteristics you need to change, according to Toder. “For example: If a feeling has a certain quality to it — let’s say it’s a warm feeling, and it’s kind of yellow and sits in your chest and it’s maybe four inches in diameter and it’s moving — if you can take that and change the qualities to make it small, dark, dull and boring, and then move it away from you, it will change how you feel about it,” explains Toder. “It’s not because you’re tricking the brain; rather, it’s simply the way the brain encodes this information.”

Step 7: Put the symbol of your pain behind you
Now envision moving the changed object away from your body — preferably behind you. “Imagine just pushing it away — far, far away,” says Toder. “First, [push it] out of the room. Then a block away, then down the street, and then a mile away. Do this slowly and deliberately. Truly believe that you are putting those feelings/the object far behind you.” You see, the brain organizes items into certain locations; the things you love usually appear clear and right in front of you when you visualize them, while things from the past or that make you feel uncomfortable often seem to be slightly blurry and appear to the side or behind you in your field of vision. By disassociating and pushing this symbol of your pain behind you, you’re accelerating the brain’s natural tendency to eventually put the feelings associated with your breakup in the past.

Step 8: Break your self-hypnotic state
Now that the hard part’s over, it’s time for you to snap out of it — literally. “You need to break your [hypnotic] state, because throughout this whole thing, you’ll actually be in a hypnotic trance — and at this point, it’s time to get [yourself] out of it,” says Toder. While just about anything can help shake you out of your trance, Toder says that getting up and walking around the room is an easy option. Just make sure that both eyes are open, then take in a deep breath, hold it for a second, let it out slowly and then stand up, take another deep breath, and sit back down again.

Step 9: Re-assess your emotions afterward
Hopefully, you’ll feel more detached from the breakup pain after completing steps 1-8. But even if you don’t feel markedly different right away, simply relaxing and practicing these steps should help reduce your focus on the breakup the next time you start feeling down on yourself. If you’re facing an intense burst of level-10 “I miss my ex” pain and this exercise helps dial it down to an 8 or 7½, that’s progress — and good reason to keep practicing it. “Maybe it’ll get down to a 6 or a 5, and if you can turn that into a lower number, it won’t disrupt your day. Instead, it will almost feel like you broke up months or even years ago,” says Toder. “This technique really is a way to get a change occurring in people within minutes, whereas therapy could take years.”

Step 10: Repeat steps 1-9 as needed
Though doing this exercise only once may be enough to ease your breakup pain, you never know when a pang of loneliness or a flash of regret might strike in the future — so feel free to repeat these steps anytime you feel yourself backsliding into sadness again.

The three-step “fast fix” version
Need a faster fix when sadness strikes you? Try this three-step exercise for a quick tune-up anytime you need it (especially when a breakup’s still fresh):

1. Close your eyes and think about your ex. Most of the time, you’ll probably see his/her face right in front of you, in very close proximity to your own and in full color.
2. Shrink the image of your ex down to the size of a postage stamp, switch it to a black-and-white version, and then move it far behind you.
3. Open your eyes again. You should feel a bit better already.

Now that you know how put meddling thoughts about your ex behind you, you can start mentally making room for your next (and even better) new love!

Kimberly Dawn Neumann has been called the “Carrie Bradshaw of Broadway” due to her two careers as a performer and writer. She is the author of The Real Reasons Men Commit and countless magazine articles, and she’s also the founder of
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