Click play to listen to this article.
Becoming wildly attractive boils down to conquering your anxiety, fears, and emotional baggage. Abolish a person’s inability to be confident around their ex, and most of their challenges would resolve themselves, and they’d have a much smoother time rekindling things.
They’d either polarize their ex to a point where they’d start dating again or take their rejection head-on. But instead of moping around or begging their ex to come back, they’d go on to find someone else. After all, any confident person is comfortable with rejection.
And while you can get your ex interested again through typical lines, tactics, strategies, and persuasion and manipulation approaches, those things (those performance behaviours) are either petty details at best or pointless distractions at worst.
Despite decades of psychological research and studies on anxiety and fear, the breakup advice industry is woefully uninformed on these matters and consequently spews a lot of nonsense. So here are four pointers to help you understand the subject correctly.
1. Anxiety is permanent
Anxiety is nothing but a biological mechanism that we developed because it helped us survive back in the caveman days. But as time went on and the human race evolved, our anxieties evolved with it. And as we adapted to modern society and way of life, so have our anxieties.
Therefore, no matter how you look at it, anxiety is permanent. It’s hardwired into us, and it never wanes completely no matter what we do. The only thing we can do is learn to manage it better — a.k.a., overcome it.
2. Anxiety is Common
Since anxiety is rooted in our biology, everyone has it, and almost everyone suffers from some form of it to some degree.
For example, almost every reader that comes to my blog gets the jitters when they see their ex. The same goes for when their ex texts them or when they meet up with them for the first time after their breakup.
It’s nerve-racking, yes, but also normal to feel this way.
3. Anxiety is Not Always Bad
Anxiety triggers our “fight or flight” response, primes us to take action, and helps us avoid painful events and failures in many cases.
So, if you come home one day and see a bear in your bedroom and he looks furious, you’ll obviously get anxious. And that anxiety will cause you to do one of two things: fight the bear (please don’t) or run away.
The problem occurs when we start perceiving things that aren’t a threat as a threat (usually due to shame and deep-seated insecurities), thus causing us to become anxious. This is when anxiety becomes debilitating and holds us back.
A breakup is a good example of this. When your partner breaks up with you, you get inundated with crippling anxiety because your mind triggers your “fight” response. It tells you that losing your partner is a threat to your survival and primes you to try to get them back — usually by force or manipulation. As you’d guess, this never ends well.
4. Anxiety Contains Defense Mechanisms
Anxiety’s defense mechanisms are simple behavioral patterns we use in order to avoid whatever causes us a lot of anxiety. There are four of them:
Procrastination (postponing a date you set with your ex because you’re too nervous about meeting up/not responding to your ex’s call because you think it’ll make you seem too eager).
Intellectualization (taking hours to craft the perfect text message for your ex/spending days researching how you’ll approach your ex when you meet up with them and ask them out on a second date).
Apathy (bullshiting yourself that you don’t care about getting your ex back when you do/postponing a date you set with them because you’re “too tired” or “not in the mood”).
Anger (declaring that your ex is a slut/asshole and that the breakup is their fault because they’re not interested in going out with you).
The more aware you become of these defense mechanisms, the quicker you can stop engaging with them and save yourself from forming a variety of crooked beliefs.
Beliefs like: “My ex-girlfriend was skinny and beautiful. Therefore, all skinny and beautiful women are sluts” or “My ex-boyfriend preferred video games over fucking me. Therefore all men who play video games are lowlife losers who won’t pay any attention to me.”
How To Overcome Anxiety
One of the biggest differences between people who persevere and perform skillfully despite their anxiety (whatever the task at hand) and those who stall and fail is the intensity of their belief in their own bullshit.
Those who believe they’re inadequate, unworthy, and hopeless feel and perform worse (whatever the task at hand) and experience more anxiety. Whereas those who beleive the opposite feel and perform better and experience less anxiety.
If you find yourself on the shittier side of the spectrum, know that there is hope. You can rewire your brain and adapt to a certain degree. And while you may never be a fearless demigod, you can always improve your current state.
So here are a few principles of overcoming anxiety based on cognitive behavioral therapy, arguably the most researched and effective means for healthy long-term change.
1. Change Your Perception Of The Outcome
Since your ex has their own set of intertwining feelings, thoughts, desires, and issues, there is no way one can guarantee you’ll get them back. Regardless of how confident and attractive you get, you’ll have to stomach being anxious about the whole thing sometimes.
That said, changing your perception of the outcome helps to lessen those spurts of anxiety when they arrive. You do this by changing your desired outcome from “I’ll get my ex back” to “I’ll cultivate a healthy and fulfilling relationship.”
The trick is that a healthy and fulfilling relationship is an outcome that you can predict and be fairly confident about achieving.
So whenever you notice you’re telling yourself how you’ll get your ex back, stop and tell yourself how you’ll cultivate a healthy and fulfilling relationship instead — be that with your ex or someone else.
The longer you keep reminding yourself of this, the quicker you’ll accept the idea and ease yourself from some of your anxiety. You’ll still feel it, along with other painful emotions, but it won’t be as overwhelming as it used to be.
2. Change The Perception of How You’ll Perform
Another way to overcome anxiety around your ex is by changing your perception of your ability to perform around them for the better. The more you change it, the more confident and fearless you’ll be. Now the way you change your perception is by getting better at whatever is giving you anxiety.
One of the best ways to do it is through progressive desensitization. Whatever gives you anxiety, break it down into small, manageable chunks and repeat and practice each chunk until it becomes relatively comfortable.
There’s only one problem with this theory: while it works flawlessly for skills like getting better at football, video games, or public speaking, it doesn’t really work when getting an ex back (exception: when you’re already dating your ex).
Getting an ex back is not a skill after all. Yet don’t fret. Here’s what you can do instead:
- Date other people and practice your social and conversational skills with them (which you can then use when interacting with your ex). A few crucial ones: building emotional connections, elegantly escalating sexuality, being vulnerable, allowing imperfection to permeate your interactions.
- Get better at skills that will help you cultivate a healthy and fulfilling relationship — be that with your ex or someone new (practice with friends, family, colleagues, etc.). A few crucial ones: overcoming neediness, developing character, setting and asserting boundaries, managing arguments well, practicing empathy.
3. Leverage Negative Visualization
Negative visualization is an exercise originating from Stoic philosophy. It translates to imagining the worst-case scenario in whatever gives you anxiety and scares you. Imagine that everything that can go wrong will go wrong.
This, however, is the easy part of negative visualization. Since you’re anxious, you’re probably doing it already. The tricky part is imagining how you can be okay with the worst things happening. It sounds counteractive but think about it.
If you have high expectations right now, as in, “I’ll get my ex back no matter what. It’s only a matter of time before it happens.” you’ll be pretty anxious about the whole thing — especially when things don’t go your way (which they never do).
Whereas if you have low or no expectations, you’ll be much calmer and less anxious; and paradoxically more attractive. Even if your ex never comes back, the blow won’t be half as painful since you already anticipated it and mentally prepared yourself.
4. Care About Something More Important
Let’s talk values. Since you’re reading this, one of your values is probably tied to your ex’s appreciation and love for you — you hold these things in high regard.
So instead of thinking and valuing “I want to be appreciated and loved by my ex,” think about and value something akin to, “I want to be okay with not being appreciated and loved by my ex.”
This is just one example. Find your own values that give you anxiety and replace them with better ones. Obviously, this will take time and require exertion since it forces you to step out of a paradigm you’ve lived so long in.
Just know that when you replace faulty values, you do so with values that aren’t tied to external things like getting your ex to love you again. It’s because of these sorts of values that you get anxious in the first place.
In other words, it’s important to find internal values that you have control over to replace the external ones you haven’t. A few examples: being honest with yourself, following a passion, fighting for a cause, getting better at a particular skill.
5. Accept Your Anxiety
Imagine taking a tough exam. The more you tell yourself to calm down and focus, the harder you find it to calm down and focus. Or the more you think about how you don’t want to screw it up, the more likely you are to screw it up.
Yet, if you just surrendered to your anxiety and accepted that things might not go as planned or as you want them to go, you’d relax and lower your chances of failing your exam.
Same story when it comes to getting your ex back. The more you desire to get them back, the stronger your anxiety will become and the higher your odds of getting rejected. And the more determined you are to stop being anxious, the more anxious you’ll become. It’s a catch 22.
So instead of getting ensnared, let go and surrender to your anxiety. Hell, accept and embrace it. Here are some modalities that can help you achieve this, in addition to the ones already covered in this article: meditation, journaling, yoga, qi-gong, calm-breathing, therapy.
Further Resources For Overcoming Anxiety
If you’d like to go deeper into this topic, I recommend the following resources. And no, I’m not affiliated with any of the creators who made them. They’re just really powerful resources that I’ve gone through and got results with. I’ve also used some of them as research materials for this article.
- Overcoming Anxiety Course — By Mark Manson.
- Until Next Time — By Rory From The Love Chat.
- Managing Anxiety with CBT For Dummies — By Graham C. Davey.
- Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy — By David Burns.
- The CBT Workbook for Mental Health — By Simon Rego.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Dummies — By Rob Willson.
Where Do You Get Your Validation?
Many think it's unhealthy to seek validation. But that's not true. It is healthy (even normal) if you're seeking it from the right place.
5 Stages Of Getting Back Together With An Ex
Discover the 5 stages of getting back together with an ex and how to leverage them to mend your relationship faster.
The Compatibility Dilemma
If you want a lasting and functioning relationship with your ex, you must be somewhat compatible. Here's a one-stop shop guide on the matter.
6 Signs Your Ex Is Testing You And How To Handle It
Learn what tests are, how they look, the signs your ex is testing you, whether those signs are real or not, how to deal with tests, and more.
The Ultimate Guide To The No Contact Rule
Learn everything there is to know about the contact rule — the best way to recover from your breakup and/or get your ex back.