I’m really upset about a romantic breakup and can’t stop thinking about it. How do I get my mind to stop obsessing and being upset or in self-pity?
(Note this is only my personal opinion, not the official opinion of any 12 step program).
This is a very common issue among the alcoholics that I sponsor. In step 4 of the Twelve & Twelve, page 53, it says
“The primary fact that we fail to recognize is our total inability to form a true partnership with another human being. Our egomania digs two disastrous pitfalls. Either we insist upon dominating the people we know, or we depend upon them far too much”.
So does that mean we’re hopeless? No. So how have I gotten out of it? By applying the steps as follows (this also works for other things we’re obsessing about like a job, money, decisions we perceive were bad, etc.):
1. I am powerless over ______ (romantic partner or ex’s name), and thinking about her/him is making my life unmanageable.
2. I believe that my HP can restore me to sanity.
3. I now turn over ______ (romantic partner or ex’s name) to you God.
4. I make a tho
- I am powerless over (romantic partner or ex’s name)—my life has become unmanageable.
- I’ve come to believe that a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity.
- I’ve made a decision to turn (romantic partner or ex’s name) over to the care of Go as I understand Him.
- I will now make a searching and fearless moral inventory of my relationship with (romantic partner or ex’s name), identifying the good, the bad, and my feelings around it.
- I will now admit to God, to myself, and to another human being the exact nature of my relationship with(romantic partner or ex’s name).
- I am now entirely ready to have God remove this obsession I’m having about (romantic partner or ex’s name) and our relationship.
- Humbly asked Him to remove the obsession, and again every time it recurs.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed in this relationship, including (romantic partner or ex’s name) and myself, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to myself and others wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others, provided that I have first checked with my sponsor before making such amends.
- Continued to take personal inventory on this relationship, writing down my feelings and thoughts as they come up, and focusing on the good parts.I will consciously avoid creating any more harm to (romantic partner or ex’s name), or putting myself in harms way as it relates to this relationship. However, if that happens, I will make direct and immediate amends, provided I have run them by my sponsor first.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out, knowing that when I am not feeling good, it’s time to plug in again.
- Having had a spiritual awakening around this obsession as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, sharing our experience how we overcame our obsession, and to practice the principles we have learned in this process, in all our affairs.
I find it’s especially important to go through all the steps around the obsession, and to run them by my sponsor or another trusted member of the program. It’s also critical for me to be aware when my thinking slips back to the obsession. Usually this is easy to spot, I simply have to recognize when I’m feeling bad about this situation. The moment I do, it’s time to get into the solution. Here are some tools I use to relieve my obsession:
- Recognize it, and force myself to write down a gratitude list.
- Recognize it, and make a recovery call to see how they are doing, not to tell them how I am doing. I usually start out by saying “Hi it’s James. Just called to see how everything is going. What’s up with you?” This allows me to take the focus off my obsession.
- Do a 15 minute guided meditation every time I obsess. I listen to a MP3 meditation on my iPhone.
- Get some exercise. I like to do things that force me to focus. Running up steps or doing a technical hike. Running can let my mind obsess.
- Read the Big Book, 12&12 or other recovery literature, with a highlighter in hand, looking for things that resonate with me. I call this active reading, where my mind can’t wander too much because I am highlighting.
- Get busy. Paying bills, cleaning the house, etc. Staying busy often distracts me from my obsession.
One of the greatest phrases in AA is “This too shall pass.” Here’s a little story I found on a British AA site about it, and I can’t tell you how many time this simple thought has helped my survive the temporary suffering I have experienced in recovery.
“THIS TOO SHALL PASS”
A king called all of his wise men and counselors together for a meeting. He addressed them and said,
“I want you to go and think, read, and research. Consult the wisest and most learned men in the land. Spare no expense. I want you to find the ONE statement that will get me through all situations in life. Whether I am on top of the world or in the pits, find that statement.I don’t want to learn long and complicated philosophies. I want one simple statement. Find it or write it; I don’t care, just bring me the statement.”
The men left and consulted for months. They finally returned and handed the King a scroll. The King unrolled the scroll. On it was written four words. “THIS TOO SHALL PASS”. That was it.
The wise men explained.
“When you are on top of the world, that is but a fleeting moment, things change, always remember, this too shall pass. When you are in the pits, all nights are followed by day, at your lowest moments remember also, this too shall pass.”
All external circumstances and material things change, so matter what your circumstances, remember,
”THIS TOO SHALL PASS”
Found online … “Re: Cravings and ‘White Knuckling It” by jmc612989 » 28 May 2006, 20:46 viewtopic.php?f=11&t=719&p=6007#p6007