You met someone new. You want to be with them, but they do not feel the same way. Now you can’t stop thinking about them no matter how hard you try. Perhaps your mind is filled with thoughts of your ex-lover. It gets so bad that some days, you can’t get much done. Unrequited love can be frustrating and leave us feeling pain, grief, or shame.
You shouldn’t feel embarrassed – you are not the only one to experience this. It is normal to keep thinking about someone, especially when you had good memories with them. Take consolation in the fact that science has an explanation; dopamine-induced highs.
Dopamine is the pleasure messenger. Certain people, places, or things trigger dopamine release in your brain. This chemical reaction is what makes you smile at memories of your ex. Because it feels good to think about them, you cannot stop. You are stuck in an endless loop as dopamine causes you to want, desire, seek and reach out.
As grim as your situation seems, there is a solution. If you are committed enough, you can stop thinking about that person. Here are 12 smart ways to get over them and clear your mind of intrusive thoughts.
Identify Your Triggers
Why do you keep thinking about this person? When someone lets you down, it is hard to stop thinking about what could have been. You get fixated because you wish things did not end the way they did.
Your thoughts are often triggered by a person, place, or specific thing. Try to identify when you think about this person the most. For example, if you used to go to a certain restaurant together, going there alone might trigger you. Food, music, or mutual friends might also make it hard for you to stop thinking about that person.
Although there are some unavoidable triggers, you should stay away from those you can. Stop listening to his favorite band for hours or otherwise, you won’t stop thinking about him.
Be Realistic – Are They Really As Perfect As You Remember?
Most times, we focus too much on the good times. After a failed relationship, it is easy to forget what went wrong. Your mind is probably stuck on all the good traits they have. It results in an exaggerated perception that is not always accurate.
You might find yourself comparing potential lovers to your ex and thinking, “he always knew what to do…I will never find anyone like him”. The truth is, you are probably obsessing over good memories because thinking about them makes you feel good.
What you can do is to think pragmatically. Try to count specific things that they did well, and you will realize that your memory is exaggerated. Stop overlooking the things you disliked about them because those things were bad enough to end the relationship.
Unfollow, Unfriend, or Block Them on Social Media
You cannot figure out how to stop thinking about someone when you see them every day. You might end up looking forward to their updates and keeping tabs on them. To clear your mind, put some reasonable distance between you two. Stop following them on social media.
If you are thinking about someone nonstop, pull the plug on social media interactions. Just because he viewed your Instagram story does not mean he is thinking about you too. Blocking them might seem extreme, but the last thing you need is to be reminded of him through mutual friends.
Reach Out, But Only for Closure
Sometimes, closure can help you to stop thinking about someone. Perhaps you are having a hard time moving on because the relationship ended abruptly. Maybe your crush rejected you with no clear explanation, and now you are constantly thinking about him.
Getting closure works only if both parties are willing. If your ex is willing to meet you and talk things through, it might help. Never reach out for closure expecting something more. You might be disappointed and hurt if you are rejected again. Such a turn of events will certainly make it harder to stop thinking about that person.
Embrace the Emotions
Feeling sad? Rejected? Heartbroken? Allow yourself to feel it, then let the emotion go. Acting like you are okay and unbothered will only make you feel worse.
Remember that emotions are meant to be felt. They are not supposed to inform your decisions or actions. Rather, you should embrace them and accept the situation for what it is. Most times, emotions come in waves, and you feel better after a little while. Hang in there – it really does get better.
Write Down Your Frustrations
It is frustrating to keep thinking about someone who let you down. Journaling is a great outlet for your emotions. Write down your reasons for thinking about that person. Write down the memories you can’t stop going back to. Doing so might give you some perspective. The relief you feel after writing is worth it.
It is easy to let yourself get swept away by negative thoughts about someone. You might have been having breakfast, only to remember some hurtful words from your ex. Your mind gets fixated on the memory, and now you cannot stop thinking about them.
Mindfulness requires you to pay attention to your thoughts. When you recognize the first negative thought, acknowledge it and divert your attention. Focus on the present moment and make yourself busy, it will keep your mind from wandering. It is easier said than done but with some practice, you can use mindfulness to control your thoughts.
Get a Distraction
Think of a time-consuming activity that makes you happy and do it. You can choose to learn a new craft like knitting or embark on a DIY project. If you enjoy physical activity, going to the gym or hiking over the weekends can be a great distraction. When you are busy, you can stop thinking about someone. The sense of accomplishment when you finish new tasks will motivate you.
Be Kind to Yourself
When you can’t stop thinking about someone, it is easy to blame yourself. You might feel guilty over how the relationship ended. If it is a case of unrequited love, you might feel embarrassed about making the first move. It is important to overcome these feelings of shame, guilt, and fear.
If you made mistakes in past relationships, forgive yourself. Know that you made the best decisions you could at the time. Vow to learn from the mistakes and move on. Always treat yourself the way you would like others to treat you – with compassion.
Forgive and Let Go
Forgiving those who disappointed or hurt you is important, especially when you can’t stop thinking about them. Holding on to grudges takes up too much of your energy. Embrace forgiveness, even if that person did not apologize. Letting go of a grudge can offer great relief. Before you know it, you will stop thinking about that person.
Rely on Friends and Family
Some people love and support you. Count on them when you cannot stop thinking about someone. Pick up the phone and talk to someone about how you are feeling. If you are not comfortable with revealing your thoughts, it is okay. Talking to them about anything will be a welcome distraction. You can also visit them and enjoy the change of environment.
Know That Time Heals
It might sound cliché, but time heals all wounds. On some days, you will feel overwhelmed. On others, you will feel okay. Being patient is a great way of overcoming disappointment and heartbreak. When you realize that you can’t stop thinking about someone, give yourself some time.
Stop using your thoughts as an excuse to reach out to that person. Instead, give yourself a reasonable amount of time to deal with the thoughts. If you think pragmatically, you will realize that you do not miss this person for the right reasons. Working on your mindset is a better alternative.
The Bottom Line: You Deserve Peace of Mind
It is frustrating when you cannot stop thinking about someone. Despite ending a relationship because it was not good for you, you might struggle to get your ex off your mind. It is a normal experience. You should be patient, distract yourself, and focus on positive thoughts.
If you are struggling to stop thinking about someone, talking to a therapist can help. Relationship counseling helps you think pragmatically about past partners. Your therapist will help you learn coping strategies and manage your thoughts and feelings. It is possible to clear your mind and move on with the help of a mental health professional.
Kate has a B.S. in Psychology and M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and has worked in healthcare since 2017. She primarily treated depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, and grief, as well as identity, relationship and adjustment issues. Her clinical experience has focused on individual and group counseling, emergency counseling and outreach.Read more