How To Stop Thinking About Someone

HumanWindow
By HumanWindow
Updated on 2 December 2020
Expert Content

Are you wondering how to stop thinking about someone?

It can sometimes be difficult to stop thinking about certain people or situations.

We asked a group of experts for their top tips when it comes to how to stop thinking about someone.

Here’s what they said.

Give Yourself Permission To Think About Them

Marie Murphy, PhD, Relationship Coach

It might sound paradoxical, but one of the best ways to stop thinking about someone is to simply allow yourself to think about them, and allow yourself to feel the feelings that arise when you do so.

So for example, if you’re longing for someone who recently broke up with you, give yourself permission to miss them or yearn for them or be angry with them, and welcome the feelings that present themselves when you do this.

When we resist our thoughts and feelings, they tend to hang around for longer than we want them to.

But on the other hand, if we don’t try to censor our thoughts or edit our feelings, our thoughts about whoever it is we want to stop thinking about will run their course more quickly.

It can also be helpful to ask yourself, ‘why is it so bad that I’m thinking about this person?’

Sometimes the only problem with not being able to stop thinking about someone is the belief that we shouldn’t be thinking about them – and asking questions like this one can help us gain a little more perspective and find relief from our self-imposed suffering.

Don't Believe Everything You Think

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Try And Use Your Experience As A Way To Learn And Grow

Arlene B. Englander, Licensed Psychotherapist

Thinking about someone excessively usually happens after a failed or destructive relationship, so step number one in moving forward is to ask ourselves, ‘What really happened? What is the takeaway lesson here?’.

Using the experience as a way to learn and grow – even if it means tuning in to the types of people we wish to avoid, and thereby who we’d do better to choose – is very helpful.

Secondly, asking ourselves, ‘If I were to distract myself, what would I do?’, even if we don’t yet feel ready, is a good idea.

Check out some outdoor meet-up groups, see what books are featured on your local library’s app, or Google ‘crafts’ and ‘hobbies’ and give a try to something new.

It’s almost impossible to think of two things at once, so when you get engaged in activities that are pleasurable and productive, you won’t be dwelling on that person who caused you pain.

Nice vs Kind

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Practice Re-taining Your Mind

Yasmine Saad, PhD, Clinical Psychologist and Founder and CEO of Madison Park Psychological Services, Featuring NYC Therapists

Find the purpose behind your thoughts

1) There is always a purpose behind every action or thought we have. To change the thought or action, we have to resolve its purpose.

If you want to stop thinking about someone, take time to think why you are thinking of this particular person. Here are some questions that you can ask yourself to help you:

Are you trying to remain connected to them by keeping them in your life, in your mind?

Are you trying to make sense of something that happened that is unresolved for you?

Are you trying to get rid of a negative or positive emotion you have about them?

Alternatively, you can ask yourself: How would I feel if I didn’t think about them? If the answer is empty, then you are trying to remain connected.

The next step is to work on the feeling of emptiness and the lack of connection.

If the answer is light, you are trying to resolve a dynamic that is burdensome to you. The content of your thoughts can help you understand that dynamic. Then working on that dynamic, changing your perspective on it will free you.

Re-train your mind

2) Another approach is to reorient your thoughts to something or someone else.

If you do this each time a thought about this particular person comes up, with time, your mind will naturally stop thinking about this person.

It is about re-training your mind, changing a thought with another one.

Distract yourself

3) Distraction is about introducing another action to change your thought process. It is another way of telling your mind to stop thinking about a particular someone.

It involves a change in behavior, that will then trigger a change of thoughts.

How To Stop Thinking About The Past

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Remember That You Are Not Your Thoughts

Michelle Pargman, Licensed Mental Health Counselor

If I told you not to think about a red balloon – chances are you are picturing one or many at this very second.

There are many circumstances in which we may find ourselves not wanting to think of someone – usually when we experience a loss that wasn’t our choice – which translates into grief.

As much as we would appreciate being a human light-switch, we may be doing ourselves a huge service by simply allowing the thoughts and feelings to run their course. Realize that our thoughts and feelings have a beginning and an ending.

It is important to realize that just because we have a thought, it doesn’t mean we have to act on that thought – nor do all thoughts have to mean something.

You can accompany your unwanted thought with a natural curiosity. You can reflect on questions that you may want to have on hand when you find yourself having the thought such as, ‘what prompted this thought?’ ‘What would I rather think if I had a choice? (because you may realize that you do).’

Instead of letting fear or guilt take over when you have a feeling that the thought is coming, curiously observe yourself and identify what it is that you are telling yourself about the thought.

Perhaps you are telling yourself, ‘I shouldn’t be thinking of this person right now. What’s wrong with me?’

Remember that you are not your thoughts. Telling yourself that you have every right to think it, and that you have the power of choice on what you get to decide to do about your thoughts, can be a very empowering exercise.

Asking yourself where you would rather put your energy and identifying ways that can support you from doing just that, may be the best course to take.

Then you could actually thank yourself for having the thought – because it gave you the opportunity to identify alternatives.

Where Do Thoughts Come From?

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Use The Situation As A Doorway To Overcoming Your Fears

Sandy Rodriguez, Communications Expert and Author of Choose to Prevail: Unexpected Insights to Help You Overcome Challenges

The fastest and easiest way to stop thinking about someone, if this is causing you grief, is to do something that scares you.

Fear overrides grief. If you go skydiving or bungee jumping, the fear you might feel in anticipation of that moment is likely to drown out any thoughts of the person and the accompanying sorrow.

One can even take advantage of this phenomenon and select frightening activities that might actually be beneficial to one’s career or one’s life in general, such as seeking out public speaking engagements, running for office, or enrolling in a rigorous martial arts class.

A few years ago, I was tormented by thoughts of a person who had hurt me. I used that period, when I truly felt devastated, to conquer freeway phobia.

During the time I was learning to venture onto the freeway, the person was the furthest thing from my mind.

Over time, both the phobia and nagging thoughts of the person disappeared.

What Am I Doing With My Life?

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Find Yourself An Ambitious Goal And Stop Idealizing The Person

Soumaya Ettouji, Personal Development Coach

If the person you want to stop thinking about is still in your life, you may have to cut them off completely.

I know I’m starting off strong but if you see them and talk to them regularly, it will be harder to move on.

If you can’t remove them completely from your life, try the following:

Change their name on your phone to ‘Just a normal guy / girl’ or whatever sounds similar and minimizes their importance in your life.

I know it sounds stupid but it actually works. While studying Neuro-Linguistic Programming, I understood how powerful the words we use to describe our loved ones are.

They become our truth and the reality about how we see them. So I tried that technique for myself when I could not stop thinking about someone and it radically changed the way I saw them and how much I thought about them!

Keep yourself busy: find an ambitious goal that will allow you to craft a busy routine where wandering thoughts won’t be welcome.

Your energy flows where your attention is so make sure it goes somewhere that will benefit you.

Control your thoughts: you can’t control all the thoughts that pop into your mind but you definitely control how long they stay in there and how much they impact you.

So be mindful, as soon as you catch yourself visualizing that person, stop yourself straight and do something that will require your full attention like reading, working out, meditating.

Stop idealizing that person: Right now, if you’re thinking about them too much, it might be that you only see their good sides and qualities.

Your feelings are altering your perception of the truth. So acknowledge that they have downfalls as well and that they’re not perfect.

Focus on the reasons why you don’t want to think about them anymore when you start reminiscing on the past.

Ask yourself some deep questions: Why are you stuck on this person? Why don’t you look forward and focus on yourself? Could it be self-sabotage? Is there a problem with your self-love and self-esteem? Is this a pattern that you’re repeating? Maybe you unconsciously believe that you don’t deserve to be happy?

Perhaps there is inner child work that needs to be done if that person reminds you of your father, brother, someone from your past… and something happened in your childhood that led you to chase their attention.

Sit with yourself and think deeply about the source of those thoughts and your behavior.

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