I recently had a client ask me about the rumination patterns they were getting stuck in.

They couldn’t stop thinking of a toxic ex and all the good times they had with that person. Even though they hadn’t been together in years, he couldn’t get her out of his head.

“She was intoxicating,” he told me. “I don’t think I’ll ever meet someone like her again.”

I get stories like this all time from my clients. Most of them come to me in the wake of a really serious relationship breakdown and they want answers. They also want a clear plan to move forward on. Time-and-time again, though, it comes down to their inability to move on. No matter what skills they learn, or how far they move away, they still keep attaching themselves to these deep-rooted memories.

Why? Why can’t they let go of people who damaged them in ways that are going to take years to overcome?

More often than not, it comes down to the fantasies. They cling to those “happy” moments and push all the darkness to the back. They can’t remember the screaming matches and the manipulations, because they’re too focused on great sex and that one night on vacation. They beat themselves up over situations they were never in control in, because they tell themselves, “I’ll never meet someone like that again.”

And hopefully they won’t. Hopefully, they won’t meet someone that conniving and toxic again. Hopefully, they won’t fall into the arms of another narcissist, or an abuser that beats them up and tears them down in unknowable ways.

I can’t take them there, however. All I can do is drive them to the point of understanding it, and give them the blueprints for the tools that can help them overcome. Everything else falls on them. My clients are made or broken not on what I do, but what they decide not to do for themselves.

When they can’t let go of the fantasy, they wind up fostering regrets. When they can’t change those regrets, they right a new narrative for themselves in which they just keep repeating the same old patterns of heartbreak over-and-over again.

Your fantasies will derail you if you aren’t careful. They will tint the future with a rose glow that is neither healthy nor true. They will prevent us from moving forward, and – worse than that – they will prevent us from finding love with someone who genuiely wants to be a part of our lives.

Are you clinging to fantasies? Or are you working to root yourself in the present reality?

Your exes remain that way for a reason. Time and distance will not change the person they choose to be. Seeing them as they are is not giving up on this memory. It is making the conscious choice to do better by elevating your perspective. Real love doesn’t happen by accident. It happens when cultivate the skills we need to thrive on our own terms…and that has to start with a choice.

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