I want to teach you something about withdrawal.
Whether you’ve gone through a breakup, or you can’t stop thinking of someone who isn’t available – you may know that feeling of wanting to make contact despite your better judgment. You may even feel a sense of addiction – like you have no control over your impulse to make contact.
You’re not alone. This is quite common when we experience separation, rejection, or a threat to our attachment. Here are some tips that will help you.
1. Understand what’s happening in your brain.
When you’re trying to get over someone, it’s important to stop contact and revisiting old messages or photos. You have old neural pathways that were built when you were with the person, and the more you engage, the more you keep strengthening old neural pathways. When you stop contact, you allow those old neural pathways to prune away. Also, when you crave checking their social media, your brain is actually craving dopamine. Find another way to get that dopamine in a healthier way.
2. Try ‘chunking’
Goals that are too hard are likely to be abandoned, so commit to 30 days of no contact. After that, assess and see if you can commit to another 30. This breaks down the goal into chunks and makes it more manageable. If you must communicate due to co-parenting, the key is to keep the interaction neutral. Do not share good news, do not engage in a fight – both create a chemical rush. The emotional charge is what keeps you hooked.
3. Ride the 20-minute wave.
The intense craving to contact the person will last on average 20 minutes. That’s how long it usually takes for the intensity to reach its peak and then start to subside. When we don’t know there’s an expiry date to the pain, we think it will last forever and then give in to the temptation. Find something to distract yourself (preferably something that requires you to move your body) during these 20 minutes.
Withdrawal is normal. You’re not going crazy. But it takes practice to learn how to manage the impulses. It’s a matter of practice.