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Thursday, July 5, 2018 12:12 am

Fade diet

PHOTO COURTESY AMY ALKON
Amy Alkon
I got ghosted – dumped by a guy who just disappeared on me, no explanation – after three months of lovey-dovey dating. Clearly, he isn’t a great person, yet I’m unable to stop thinking about him and wondering why he left. How do I accept that it’s over so I can start dating again? – Plagued

It’s hard on the ego to learn why somebody’s leaving you, but it beats needing an Ouija board.

It’s the mystery that’s causing the problem. Typically, when rotten things happen to us, our feel-bad emotions (like anger and sadness) rise up – driving us to take a wiser course of action the next time so we’ll keep those bad feelings from popping by again: “Wassup? Got any beer?”

Knowing the wiser course starts with knowing what to avoid. But all you’ve got is a terrible itch – the itch of uncertainty about why this guy vanished – and little hope of yanking him in to give you answers: “Wanted/Reward – ex-boyfriend who ghosted me, last seen on 3/11/2018 carrying the remains of my dignity in a green reusable bag.”

However, you can probably dupe your mind into believing it has the answer. Research by cognitive neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga suggests our mind is quick to create stories to fill in and make sense out of incomplete information – and then we tend to go right ahead and believe our stories. To take advantage of this, imagine a possible reason the guy vamoosed on you – and then just decide to accept it as THE reason.

What might also help is transforming your thoughts of the guy into a material object – a piece of garbage, in fact – and throwing it away. And yes, I get that this sounds absurd, but there’s a growing area of social science research – embodied cognition – that finds taking action is a highly efficient way to change our feelings. Accordingly, social psychologist Pablo Brinol had research participants write a negative thought on a piece of paper and then rip the paper up and throw it into a nearby trash can. This actually led to participants “mentally disposing” of their disturbing thinking to a great degree.

Should the guy sneak back into your thoughts, don’t worry; just widen the shot. Shift your focus from him to yourself – looking at how you maybe crossed your fingers that you had a keeper instead of seeing whether that actually was the case. Understanding what you should do differently is the first step toward expanding the male companionship in your life – amusing as it can be to spend your nights watching your current partner get loaded on catnip and try to make sweet love to your throw pillows.

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