Many women who are victims of marital infidelity find that one of the hardest things to deal with are the mental images that keep recurring of their spouse and his paramour. It can often seem like a horror film. In this article, we will visit steps that will help you in overcoming an affair and the mental images that may be haunting you.
Many women who suffer from this have never even seen, nor have any idea what the other woman looks like, but mental images of the affair are still prevalent. Images of what she and her husband were doing together, usually with no knowledge or details of what really occurred. It is common that despite their best efforts, they simply seem unable to shut them off. Based on the fact that you are reading this, perhaps you can relate.
If indeed this is happening to you and you simply feel like perhaps you have “lost your mind,” take comfort in the fact that you are not going crazy. As humans, we often run “slide shows” or movies in our minds. We do this for all kinds of reasons; to remember past events, to anticipate what may happen in the future, and to make sense of the reality we are dealing with in the present moment. However, the fact that this is normal doesn’t necessarily make it healthy.
The problem with the mental images after the discovery of an affair is that you respond to them emotionally as if they were real. Every time these images flash through your mind, it’s like you are reliving the pain and trauma you experienced when you found out about the affair in the first place.
This makes it more difficult to heal from the pain and rebuild your marriage.
So let’s turn our attention to what you need to do to get rid of them. First there are a few realizations that you need to come to terms with:
· The images are not real. Even if you were unfortunate enough to catch them in the act, the mental images you are experiencing now are still in your head. They are not real.
· Your mind is your territory and no-one can control what goes in it. Only you can do that and you are indeed in charge of it.
Of course, these points may seem like obvious statements, but to indeed address the mental images you are experiencing from the affair, it is important to acknowledge these facts first.
Before I show you steps to curb these images, I have to ask you what may seem like an absurd question…are you sure you want them to stop?
This question may seem odd to you, but in many cases a woman who has been cheated on will cling to these images as justification for feeling the pain that she does from the affair. That by holding onto them and reviewing them repeatedly, that they have a right to feel the way that they do. You have to ask yourself if you fall in that category. If you feel like you may, you have to work this out before moving on.
Once you feel as though you are ready to overcome an affair and stop the mental images, then here is what you must do next (you will want to find a quiet spot to do this):
1. Calm Your Mind
Close your eyes and take a few slow, deep breaths. Allow your mind to unwind and relax. Feel the tension pouring out of your body with each exhalation. Feel your body begin to completely unwind. Later, I will share with you a resource that includes some breathing techniques that will help you in this step.
2. Bring the Image to Mind
When you are ready, bring a mental image of the affair that you have been struggling with to mind. Imagine it in as much detail as you can. Take some time to see the vision completely. It may be painful to do this, but facing this pain is your first step to freeing yourself from it and finally being rid of it for good.
3. Change or Alter the Image
Once you have the image in your mind in great detail, try to manipulate it. Imagine it as being on a DVD and see if you can play the image in reverse. Ask yourself if by doing this one simple mental exercise it helped you feel better at all. If so, do it several more times. Even envision it rewinding faster until it becomes a bit of a blur.
Pause your exercise and open your eyes. Evaluate the effects this rewinding exercise had on you emotionally.
Next, try to manipulate the size and shape of objects in your mental images of the affair. In your image, perhaps you see a lamp on a bedside table, or a dresser. Pick an item and mentally enlarge it or reduce it. Change its shape. You can even change its color if you so desire. See what change you make to the object makes you feel better.
Repeat this process with the sound that may be present in your image. If there is music, turn it off. If you hear people speaking, perhaps you can change their voices into cartoon characters. You can even decide to view your images from a different camera angle or perspective.
When you first read this, perhaps it sounds a bit silly to you. But what this exercise does is accomplish two very important things for you.
First, it gives you tangible evidence that these images are indeed occurring in your brain and they are not real. That you indeed control them.
Second, the exercise diminishes the emotional impact of the images. By changing the image, you develop new ways of thinking that are potentially less painful than what you have been experiencing, and might even provide you with a new resource for handling the situation.