Remove All Traces of the Ex-
From Your Life
It’s really obvious, but it’s so hard to do: you have to get rid of anything and everything that reminds you of your ex-. Pictures, letters, presents, clothes you bought with him/her, that “special pillow" that reminds you of him/her, etc.
I know how hard it is. But it’s very important. Anything which triggers memories of your ex- is harmful to you. As MRI brain scans show, reminders of your ex- activate the same areas of your brain as physical pain does, so looking at any keepsakes from the ex- is literally like cutting your wound open over and over again. You significantly prolong your pain and slow your healing. (The physical effects which are caused by a breakup are discussed in more detail in the article Pain of Rejection is Real here on this site, so please take a look if you haven't seen it.)
Whatever it is, get rid of it. Throw it away, give it to charity, burn it… whatever you have to do, get rid of everything. Every trace of the ex- which you have lying around will just torture you and prolong your recovery.
Don't meet your ex-
If you have stuff of your ex- which you need to return, pack it up and ask a friend to deliver it so you don’t have to see the ex-. It’s really important to not deliver it yourself or allow your ex- to pick it up personally. You don’t want any contact with the ex-, and especially not contact involving returning stuff: it will only lead to horrible situations and much more grief and heartache for you.
(And be a good person: if you have stuff of your ex- which you know s/he wants back, don’t keep it or throw it away just in spite no matter how upset you are.)
I like to keep memories, so throwing away some of the stuff I had related to “us" just wasn’t an option.
Instead, I put everything in a box. Then, knowing that there was no way I’d be strong enough to resist looking, I gave the box to a friend for safe keeping, with the instructions to not give it back until I was 100%, completely and totally recovered… no matter how much I beg.
Delete or lock
all electronic records
Computer files and phone memories are another big issue. I had so many photos, letters, mails, videos, and recordings of my ex- and me. My computer hard drive was essentially devoted entirely to “us". And my phone was just a collection of smses and photos of my ex.
As hard as it was for me, I put everything related to my ex- onto a USB and gave it to a friend to hold for me until I recovered.
Another idea I’ve seen is to put it all into an encrypted folder on your computer, and a friend locks it with a password which you don’t know.
Either way, after you’ve stored all the files some place safe where you can’t access them, delete it all from your computer. Be sure to use a secure shred-and-delete program like Eraser, CC Cleaner or FileShredder… otherwise, the files will still be on your computer and you’ll be able to undelete them; trust me that at some low point, the temptation will be overwhelming.