"Why is it so hard for me to let go completely from this girl I was close to for 7 years?"
What’s your favorite food?
Let’s pretend it’s lasagna. A nice juicy, beautifully made Italian lasagna.
Now imagine the last time you had that favorite food.
Picture it clearly in your mind.
As you imagine it... do you feel some desire for that right now?
Why? It’s in your past, perhaps 5 months ago… but you can almost smell it. You can almost taste it.
Distracting, isn’t it?
Now go book dinner at your favorite lasagna-making Italian joint, for dinner tonight.
Now, you are still thinking about that nice juicy lasagna, aren’t you? But you might notice two small shifts in that sensation of desire.
- First, you’re thinking about the lasagna you’re going to eat tonight, and not about the lasagna you had 5 months ago.
- Second, you’re feeling excitement, rather than a frustrating sense of desire. That lasagna in the future is imminent. That lasagna in the past is no longer accessible to you.
Welcome to dopamine.
Your reptile brain is 320 million years old, and it has a very simple system for identifying, and driving you to pursue opportunities.
When you encounter something that your reptile brain thinks is good for you, it releases dopamine, and you feel a craving for that thing.
It might be a lasagna. Or it might be that incredibly cute girl next door.
Your human mind added some very cool things into your mental toolkit, by adding imagination and vivid memory.
These are very powerful tools, but most of us aren’t that skilled at using them, and that makes things difficult for us.
Because your dopamine system reacts just as intensely to your thoughts as it does to your immediate reality.
- That lasagna you remember from 5 months ago?
- That lasagna you are imagining for dinner tonight?
- That lasagna you will see when it’s right in front of you?
Your reptile brain can’t tell the difference.
You’ll get a nice kick of dopamine and WANT in all 3 situations.
OK, Mike, but... what's the Connection?
Now let’s connect the dots.
This girl in the past was clearly special to you for some reason. Perhaps the two of you had a great romantic connection, or perhaps you were just best friends.
Whatever the situation, your reptile brain decided that she was good for you.
Now, whatever it was that she specifically brought to your life seems to be lacking. You don’t currently have any lasagna in front of you.
That special thing is not really present in your life right now, and it’s not imminent in your future.
So, your brain turns to the past, every time you want it.
Your brain doesn’t forget that experience, and every time you feel “wow I’d like to feel X again,” your reptile brain steps in and says “Hey I know where to find that.”
In most situations in life this is relatively easy to deal with.
Simply find, and create that thing, in your future. Get out and date, or meet new people that have those qualities that attracted you to her. Build deep and meaningful friendships with cool & amazing people.
Go order some lasagna, and put it back in your future.
Because lasagna fixes everything.
Now I’m hungry.
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This article is about all kinds of past attachments, not only relationships.
That pet you loved. That first romantic relationship. That incredible place you visited.
The things that we had that were most special and meaningful in our lives, at just the right times, will never go away.
Cherish these things.
But learn from them too, learn what made them special to you, and bring more of those things and people into your life.