Saturday, July 07, 2007

How to Fall out of Love by Debora Phillips

  You might say that this is something of a specialist interest - but how many people at some stage in their lives havent "fallen in love with someone they shouldnt have fallen in love with", in the wise words of The Buzzcocks. In anycase, this clearly written and practical book contains a lot of ideas - mainly founded in behavioural psychology and psychotherapy - that have all sorts of applications, even if you have no need to fall out of love.


Here is a summary of some of the key techniques (you have to read the book to get the full picture though)

1. Thought-Stopping

a) Make a list of the most positive scenes and pleasure that do not involve the person you are trying to fall out of love with

b) If you think of this person – shout STOP. Don’t let image form. Then think of a positive scene from your list. You are conditioning self to think of positive things from list, not this person. You are also not reinforcing pleasure from thinking of him or her. The pleasant thought that doesn’t involve them is reward for NOT thinking about them


c) Keep a record of how many times a day you think of him/her. You may be surprised at the high number to start with. Feel pleased as it declines.

Phillips cites the great philosopher in her cause: “An emotion can only be controlled or destroyed by another contrary and more powerful emotion” . You are substituting a positive emotion from the positive scenes.

It's crucial to keep at this for days, weeks, even months until the new habit forms. To begin with, it's recommended to do it proactively ie Go through A and B, and deliberately start to think of the person and then immediately replace the thought/image with a positive scene. Do this up to ten times a day

Thought-stopping is worth a book on its own. You might think that CBT is better (where you replace thought with a more realistic thought). For obsessive thinking, however, once the thought takes hold its very difficult for the realistic thought to overpower it (remember Spinoza) - so in this case it makes sense to focus your energy on nipping the thought in the bud and re-conditioning yourself.

2) Silent Ridicule

Laugh at yourself and your predicament. This reminds me of Viktor Frankl and dereflection - getting another perspective can make a huge positive difference.

You can also make the other person in an absurd context  - which reminds me of some Paul McKenna ideas. It stops putting the person on a pedestal. Phillips warns that you may have to search around for the right scene to place the person in. She suggests that it has something to do with a habit of theirs or their personality, rather than just a random absurdity.

Again, you can practice this proactively or replace the absurd situation with any positive image you have of them.

3) Positive Image Building and Congratulations

This is about improving your own self-esteem. A break-up, or being rejected, usually knocks down ones ego - what is up to you, though, is by how much and for how long.

Philllips recommends writing down 2 positive things about yourself every day. She also commends assertiveness as a means to getting what you want. You can also use your thought-stopping skills on any negative or self-critical thoughts, not just ones relating to the person you are getting over.

You should also congratulate yourself on your progress. For example, if the number of thoughts has reduced in the first week, reward yourself by giving yourself a pat on the back or treating yourself to something you'd really like. This will reinforce the thought-stopping. Set a goal for next week, and reward yourself again when you reach it.

Those are the basic building blocks. Other chapters include jealousy, repulsion and chapters on what to do when in love again.


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