9 Ways to Deal With Loss
Getting Over a Break-Up: The ‘Spotless Mind’ Method
Break-ups are the most common source of loss around us today. Suddenly cut off by a lover or a spouse, many people experience loss so intensely that the only relief they can imagine is imagining that their ex didn’t exist at all. There’s a quirky logic to it: how could you possibly feel the daily force of someone’s wounding or abandonment if they weren’t even a living, thinking, acting force in this world?
The hurt would disappear with their existence, which is why we hear people joke, or wish, that an ex were dead. A few highly-disturbed, desperadoes have actually ‘killed for love.’ Check out movies ranging from Star 80, a Bob Fosse film that shows the slaying of a Playmate by her estranged husband, to Mrs. Harris, the story of how the Scarsdale Diet doctor was shot by his mistress.
Far more of us, though, deal with the pain of loss by simply going into denial — devaluing an ex and pretending that the good things that were the glue of the relationship never happened. The problem is that when you stuff down feelings like that, they’re bound to show up down the road externalized in some painful new fashion — or perhaps an illness.
If a break-up is crippling you to the point that you can’t function, here is a radical but powerful way to deal without having to get medieval on your ex’s ass, pop anti-depression pills or deal with the blow-back of going into denial. Call ours the Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind method. That movie riffs off of a real-life technique that was developed decades ago by Milton Erickson, a god of 20th-century psychology and the founder of modern medical hypnosis.
We only bring up this whole issue because we’re running into so many people at work, in our building, back home — even strangers — who are taking months, even years, to get over “it.” Viz. this years-long thread we found in a dating site's chat room:
its been almost 4 months since my ex decided to go back with her ex . . . Every time i find an attractive mate that wants to go out with me, i blow the attraction out of my head because i keep thinking about my ex and how could she have gone back with her ex boyfriend after what i have done for her and how he treated her like shit. . . Just wondering how others get their ex’s out of their heads.
IMO, there’s really no trick to getting them out of your head. If you really loved her, then probably 4 months isn’t long enough to resolve it.
He’s wrong. Working with someone who knows how to channel the right stuff, you can blow your ex out of your head, your known universe, atomize him or her into neutrinos.
Unlike traditional psychology, which tries to haggle with the thinking mind, trance-work bypasses your work-a-day personality and essentially re-wires the unconscious.
What does a skilled Ericksonian therapist see down in there? What they like to call, “the plasticity of human experience.” They view your memories, motives and self-image as highly-arbitrary matter that can be organically re-molded like so much play-doh.
Erickson called hypnotic trances “inductions,” and noted that they occur naturally all the time in states like daydreaming, reading or even in conversation. Or when you’re on a bus and you only notice certain people. Others are seemingly invisible to you.
In the last years before his death in 1980, Erickson developed an induction called “negative hallucination” which could reproduce that phenomenon not with strangers but with people you already know!
According to one of Erickson’s star students, the great master had a patient X who was himself a doctor, a medical specialist. Erickson helped X by successfully inducing a negative hallucination because X had anxiety about a state board exam:
Erickson prepared X to not see the examiner, at all. The examiner was the man’s arch enemy, someone who hated him. The examiner wanted X to fail.
X had published medical texts for years and was far beyond the capacity of the examiner.
It was a glorious feeling for X when he walked into that exam room. He never saw the examiner’s face. He answered fully and correctly, and he left unscathed emotionally.
Here’s a snippet of how an Ericksonian adept might plant anchors in your unconscious during a deep trance — and erase the image of an ex you carry around in your head:
Every time you enter a room you see some things, and you don’t see other things, and it’s wonderful to have some control over that, automatically, and unconsciously. And the way it happens is you discover it has happened, and you can laugh when it happens because it’s funny and laughter is great. And then you’ll know, after you hear yourself laughing foolishly, how great you feel.
Now you know that we like to know something before we actually know it. The truth is that the unconscious mind does know things before we consciously know it. The conscious mind likes to think it knew it first. The conscious mind is the last on the block to know.
Hearing youself laugh after the fact might be one of your very enjoyable ways of finding out you’ve done what you needed to have done, and didn’t think you had done it yet.
You can be so distant from something that you can’t even see it, or smell it, or hear it, or taste it at all. And you can be right in the same room as that person. They don’t exist for you at all. It happens all the time.
It might be through remembering cold, remembering frost, that allows you to have (NAME) in an environment, and ____ doesn’t exist for you at all. You don’t need to see _____. It’s a slightly odd sensation but thrilling.
We’re the first to admit that this is radical. But if all else fails, what’ve you got to lose — except for your pain?
STEP 9: No Hay Mal Que Por Bien No Venga