Constantly Thinking About Your EX? Stop and Do the JOY Test…

Constantly Thinking About Your EX? Stop and Do the JOY Test…

Constantly Thinking About Your EX? Stop and Do the JOY Test…

Thinking About Your EX? Do the Joy Test…

This “Joy Test” post has been in the making for months, possibly even years. It’s aimed at those of you who are constantly thinking about your EX. Perhaps thinking is too light of a term. Maybe you’re fixating, obsessing, totally distracted and hurting…

If that’s you, then read on…

After a breakup, for weeks or even months, we can be consumed with so many thoughts and questions. These could be questioning things like, “what did I do to deserve this?”.

Or you may want reconciliation – so it’s more like “how can I win my ex back?”

Maybe you’re constantly thinking these repetitive thoughts that you really want to get off your chest….so it could be, “I want to write a letter to my ex to say……”

All of these topics (and many more) have been covered here over the years on SYBD (you can always do an SYBD search in our archives).

But this post is a little different and it’s about what I’ve done to start feeling better after a breakup.

Thousands of Thoughts

We are all human are therefor thoughtful creatures.

We walk around with 50,000-80,000 thoughts every single day (35-48 thoughts a minute – oh my).

Many of those thoughts are negative and most are habitual. In other words, we keep walking around with the same ‘stinkin’ thinkin’ that we did yesterday, the day before, the week before, the year before, and so on.

At least until we decide to change them. Notice I don’t say “control” them because I don’t believe that we can control our thoughts. You will never know what the next thought is that’s going to pop into your brain. How could you?

What you can do is notice them and, when necessary, shift them.

Changing the Way You Think

If you do start to change your thoughts, you will change your life. (If you haven’t read that similarly titled Wayne Dyer book I highly recommend it.)

Changing the way you think, particularly when your thoughts are maybe a little obsessive (about your ex for instance), can be ridiculously challenging. I know, I’ve been there. I was that girl, for years. I not only thought, I obsessed, I pined into painful wells of despair…Until I realised that all that thinkin’ wasn’t making me feel better.

I knew that I needed to do something different. So I went on a quest to learn more about the brain and our thoughts. I watched video after video, read books, listened to CDs and scoured blogs.

I shifted my focus to retraining my brain. It’s been a daily effort, for years now, but the older I get, the happier and more successful I get.

It’s not a one and done thing, it takes practice, and some tools, because if you don’t keep practicing, you will end up falling back to your original thought patterns.

It’s not just a case of repeating some daily affirmations. Though they are good, most people are doing them wrong. 

I can walk around all day long saying “I am loveable” or “I am wealthy” but if I don’t actually FEEL those things to be true – then there is conflict and they’ll never work.

So what I am suggesting is slightly different.

Do the Joy Test

The Joy Test Is Born

I started to do what I dubbed the “joy test” – on my own thoughts. When I was habitually thinking a thought, whether about a guy, career, family stuff, etc, I stopped and questioned it: “Does this thought bring me joy or pain”?

After I asked it, I sat and waited for a few seconds to see what the answer was.

Sometimes a word came up or sometimes a feeling but essentially, if the thought was painful, in any way, I would immediately shift my focus.


I’d notice small things around me that were more positive. I started with simple things.

Here, try this yourself. Look around you right now. Find something focus for a moment on — the sun, the blue sky (if you’re lucky enough to see a blue sky out your window), a pet, a photograph of a happy time, a flower or maybe a tree…

Or close your eyes and think of a loved one – mom, dad, child, relative you love, or dearest friend you always have fun with (not your ex!!). Think of a time you had a blast together.

Just shift your focus for a minute and be in that experience mentally. Yes, it takes practice. Daily practice. If you start to do that every time you notice yourself fixating on your ex, your shift will become easier. It may only be 30 seconds at first, then a minute, then five, then ten and so on. But I promise you, that if you do the work, it’s possible.

Next time you’re tormenting yourself with thoughts about your ex (and maybe who/what they’re doing right now) – take a beat.

Inhale a deep breath and question the thought: “Is this thought giving me peace and pleasure or pain and displeasure?”

If it’s the latter, start to shift your focus to little things that surround you or to some happier time/place.

Think Good Thoughts

A while back I put this “Joy Test” to the test. A handsome friend did something that hurt my feelings. It wasn’t personal as such but I found myself fixating on what he did (or rather didn’t do). The thought plagued me. Then I remembered my own Joy Test. Each time he popped into my head, I shifted from painful thoughts to ones that bring me joy.

I only needed to do that for a day or two, and then it got to the point there was no longer any pain associated with him when he came into my brain. I chose a different thought path.

Please don’t keep thinking the thoughts that make you more and more miserable. We have no control over thoughts, they come and go, but what we can do is when we see it pop up, again, we can take 10-15 seconds before that thought really grips us, and we can focus on something else. If you keep thinking a thought more than 15 seconds you’ve latched onto it and given it momentum. The trick is to shift inside the 15 seconds so the thought doesn’t have time to become energised and get weight. It simply slips away.

Mindfulness is another way to help you stop fixating thoughts about your ex, but we’ll talk about that another day OK?

What do you do to stop constantly thinking about your ex? Answer in the comments below.

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One thought on “Constantly Thinking About Your EX? Stop and Do the JOY Test…

  1. I’m glad to find your site, Thea. There are so many stories and good advice. Yes, SIBD two days ago by my ex-boyfriend of a year and 2 months.
    We met on a dating site, so everything about the person was totally new. We met and things started to develop. I fell in love with him, fell hard and he did too, so I thought. We are both in our 40s and divorced. I share custody of my 8 yr old with ex in the same state. His kids are in high school and live with his ex in another state, ~4 hours away. He was transferred for job to my city about two years ago. He owns a house (ideal home, in his mind, because it has everything he wants, lots of land, rural/farming area) in another state (let’s call it state A), about 15 hours from the current city (let’s call it state B).

    First six months into the relationship, we were getting on well. He put the label girlfriend/boyfriend pretty soon after we became exclusive but never said the “I love you” to each other. I didn’t want to start it until he did. Around the six month mark, I asked him about his priorities in life and what he would like to do in the future. I was shattered to find that myself and the relationship was not on his list. I should also add that he mentioned he wanted to go back to where he lived before after his tour ends by the end of this year. However, I do not want to move out of this state because of my child custody arrangement. Technically, I can go to court and fight with my ex to move out of the state with our kid but I think it’s important for my kid to be close to her dad as well. Secondly, I have a very good job here, and moving would mean I will have to start everything again. Furthermore, my boyfriend never said the “L” word to me yet. After that talk, I was so upset and I told him I loved him but I didn’t want to continue the relationship as he had no intention of building a future with me.

    We broke up for about 8 weeks. He texted me and we talked. He said he loved me and realized that he wanted to be with me, and that he wanted to sell that house. He would do everything he could to stay here with me in state B. He was thinking about retiring from his current job and looked for another. He is in the military. As time went by, things were great, we talked, exchanged “I love you”, saw each other whenever we can. He even invited me to his daughter’s high school graduation to meet with his whole extended family. He applied to stay in this current job for another year so we could figure out what to do next and it was approved.

    Until recently, the past two months, he kept talking about how hard it is to find a job in this area and how he doesn’t want to take a contract job because of job security. He mentioned his parents were thinking about moving to the state A and how beautiful things were going there. He never said he wanted to move back but many little things were hinting me that he was thinking about it.

    Anyway, I kept asking what he wanted to do after his retirement, he was wishy-washy about it saying that he didn’t know what he wanted to do or where he wanted to live. One time he said he could easily get a job back in state A and that could be an option.

    I was upset because moving back to state A was the reason we broke up in the first place. He came back asked for another chance and assured me that he would stick around to be with me. I told him we should think about it and continue the talk a week later. During that week, I found out that he was married to another woman in state A. They got a divorced over two years ago. He never mentioned that marriage to me but vaguely said he had other relationships after the divorce with his kids’ mother. I was so shocked because I never thought he would hide something like that from me. Despite him keeping this secret, I was still thinking about what I could compromise to make the relationship work. I gave him the benefit of the doubt that I would listen to his reasons behind it. I was going to tell him that we could buy a house in the city so we could be close to work and with our two incomes, we could easily purchase a farm house outside of the city, about 3-4 hour drive also. Or perhaps when my kid goes to college 10 years, we could move somewhere else.

    So this past Saturday was the day, he told me he decided to move back to state A and wanted a break up. I was shattered but stayed calm and decided not to offer him what I had thought for a compromise because after all, he had already decided to step out. I asked him who (HER NAME) was, he was so surprised that I knew. He said she was totally out of his life and he has no contact whatsoever with her that was why he never mentioned that marriage. That’s it. How I was dumped. He said I am a beautiful woman and how he wished he had met me twenty years ago, blah blah… I was calm as I could and wished him the best.

    Back home, my emotions has been crazy. I am so sad. Deep down, I know this break up is better for him and better for me. I do not want him back although I admit tiny tiny bit of me does. I was thinking about writing him a post break up letter telling him about what I can offer for a compromise which I didn’t tell him when we had the talk. I don’t know whether it’s a good idea. I know he loves me but I think it’s not enough to sacrifice his other desires to move back to state A. I appreciate any advice, anything you can share. Thanks a lot!

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