August 9th: The Three Second Rule


I had been spending a lot of time thinking of my husband and his new life. I imagined that everything I had tried to give to him for the last 17 years, would “magically” come to him now… now that everything I had tried… had failed… and suddenly… magically… everything would work for him once I was gone.
It was self-abusive.
I would create these elaborate fantasies about what he was doing and who he was with. My head would make up these amazing stories and I would let my mind “swim” in them until I was drowning in despair.
I told my program counselor and she immediately taught me the Three Second Rule.
She said that when I felt one of my “elaborate” fantasies coming on, I needed in the first second… to become aware of it: to fully realize that I was about to take myself to a place that I did not want to go.
Then, during the second, I was to say out loud a command to stop myself from continuing my negative fantasy such as: Stop! or Cancel!
And during the third second, I was to practice opposite action which meant, taking a positive stance instead of a negative one like; praying for good things to happen for my husband and for everyone who was now involved in his current life.
I thought I would never be able to do it.
But… I went home, and later that day, tried it out. I went for a two-mile walk through a park near our home where I often went to unwind. As I walked, I caught myself starting in on my negative thoughts. I did what my counselor had told me: I became aware. I said “Stop!” out loud and I prayed for good things to happen to my husband and everyone involved in his new life and then… I continued walking.
Not more than a few steps later, I found myself in negative thoughts again. I repeated the process. By the time I had finished my two-mile walk, I had practiced The Three Second rule over 20 times! I could not believe how much I had been allowing my mind to wander into negative thinking.
I saw that not only was the first second of the exercise making me aware but, that by completing the entire exercise, I was becoming spiritually aware of the amount of time I had been wasting on this practice. I was spending my precious time, my new life, wallowing in negative fantasies instead of moving forward on my own path.
I continued on with the practice for the rest of the day and the next day, and when I saw my former spouse, I could not believe the difference in my behavior.
I was calm and centered.
I was able to listen to his problems and concerns with a cool head.
I did not react to his actions.
By praying for him… I had released him…. And by releasing him… I had released myself.

“Dear God, help me to overcome my need to dwell on negative images. Help me to see that I am only hurting myself by holding on to this false vision.”

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8 thoughts on “August 9th: The Three Second Rule

  1. Letting go of thoughts about an ex is so hard, especially if you’re still angry and also don’t want to give in to forgiveness. I may not forgive or say so, but staying angry and trying to predict the future have been huge anchors.
    I’ve tried to do the mental “erasing of the chalkboard” when I do exactly what you mentioned .
    But being more direct with myslg and vocal, sounds even better!
    The past week has been a letting go of anger. Learning to wish someone well in this situation is a new challenge.

  2. Being vocal…. wearing the rubber band on my wrist and snapping it when I let my thoughts “wander” into dangerous territory reminded me how much of my present life I was wasting on my past! 🙂

  3. I still use that band , usually when I take a walk by myself abc sometimes before I go to bed at night.
    The first 6 months it kept me semi sane.
    The mind can just run with horror stories . And turns out none of them are true:)
    The life I imagined he had escaped to — not so hot.

    • Hahahahah lately… I have caught myself thinking about a friend… who really mattered to me… but I had to break contact with… it’s going on five months… I know I’m doing the right thing… but sometimes I have to three second rule with this one too! 🙂 What we have as habits… will come back in all sorts of interesting forms in all relationships. 🙂 D.

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