“Stop thinking, and end your problems.”-Lao Tzu
Have you ever found yourself unable to forget about someone – what they did or said? Are you confused over how to stop thinking about someone? Is it a new crush or someone who hurt you deeply? We can have their thoughts stuck in our minds and replaying the scenes over and again. The cycle and be toxic and may seem to be never-ending.
The fact that you are here speaks that you are willing to break the cycle and make the efforts. You are brave and courageous for making this decision. So…
Why Stop Thinking About Someone?
Obsessively thinking about someone can be the result of an unresolved conflict; you might want them back or you might want closure and get your questions answered. There can be many reasons. But find out YOUR reason to forget about this person.
Sometimes, finding out ‘why’ you want to forget can prove to be more important than ‘how’. Moreover, your ‘why’ will help you go on even when things get difficult. Because let’s be real: it’s not very easy to stop thinking about someone. So, there are some things that you would want to avoid at all costs.
When To Stop Thinking About Someone?
As mentioned above, stopping to think about someone could be one of the hardest things to do. It is because our emotional sense clouds our rational judgment. Due to this, deciding not to think about someone can be complicated and confusing.
So, how to know when is the time to stop thinking about someone?
Though it is a gray area, you can look for the following signs that tell you it is the time to stop thinking about someone.
- You can’t focus on things you enjoy: movies, books, series, etc.
- They are on your mind ALL THE TIME.
- You often drift into daydreaming and thinking of “what could be if…”
- Thinking about them makes you feel frustrated and broken.
- You can’t think of the last time you were genuinely happy.
- They only reach out when they need something from you.
- You are mentally exhausted from their thoughts.
- You are sacrificing your self-esteem around them.
How to Stop Thinking About Someone?
If you have decided why you want to stop thinking about someone, and know that it is the right time then read on!
Humans are creatures of habit. And habits can be broken when they are replaced with something else. To break an old pattern, it is important to form new ones. To break bad habits, you have to imbibe good ones. It works ten folds better, to try to form new thoughts rather than suppress old ones. Here are some effective replacements that you can try to stop thinking about someone.
1. Give It Time
Time almost always heals what we are not able to.
When dealing with recurring thoughts, give your mind the time and the thoughts will subside. Saying something you don’t mean and regretting it later on never ends well. Give yourself the time to process it and you would be surprised to see how better you feel over time!
2. See Within You
When you’re thinking about someone, you are focusing your energy on the person which can be exhausting and draining. Focus your energy on your heart. See within you: what have you experienced with this person that you want to experience more of? Is it something they brought out in you? Look for the thing that you believe you can only achieve, you can only be when you’re with the person. And then, find it within you.
If they made you laugh, find the laughter within you. If they made you good about yourself then make yourself feel the same way. You, too, are in need of nurture, love, and kindness. Know that you can move forward happily. Stop believing that you need someone other than you to come into your life for you to experience you.
It is YOU. It’s always been you. You have all that you need within your heart.
This exercise makes you feel empowered. You are no longer sad because your energy is no longer revolving around someone else. You have found within you that which fills you with happiness, your knowledge, your wisdom, your light.
3. Wait and Respond
Most of the time, we have the urge to react in a heated situation. But this can make things worse. Reacting this way, you may have one more thing to forget: your reaction in the situation. Psychologist Sylvia Boorstein says that allowing ourselves to wait and seeing what happens after that solves most of the things.
4. Stop the Blame Game
Blaming anyone (including yourself) is never productive. Many factors are responsible for the present situation and there’s not one person to blame. If you think everything happened because of you, you are not doing yourself justice. While it’s important to be self-aware and admit our mistakes, it is also important to be kind to ourselves.
5. Ask Yourself: Can I Grow From This?
“Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of things.”– Epictetus
When we are flooded with emotions and seem to be at our lowest, that’s where growth happens. When you redirect your thoughts from the person to the situation and ask yourself, “How can I possibly grow from this?”, it changes the game. A shift in perspective can change your situation: from resentment to growth.
6. Don’t Wish for A Time Machine
When thinking about someone, we might often get stuck in the spiral of what we could have done differently to prevent what happened. But what’s past is past. Be it yesterday or a hundred years ago, both are in the past. We can not change the past but we can focus on the present to make the best of it.
7. Forgive the Person
The journey of healing starts with forgiveness. To heal yourself, you must forgive the other person. Forgiveness is not for others. It is what we do for ourselves. To live freely, to live without suffering, it is important to forgive. Ask yourself: is it the trauma and suffering that should define you?
8. Send Them Love and Kindness
This might sound counter-intuitive.
“How can I send kindness to the person who hurt me?”
But when you can’t forget about someone who is driving you crazy, try to associate them with positive thoughts. Send them kindness until your anger goes away. Look for ONE positive thing you can get from the situation and see how it calms your mind.
9. 90 Second Time Out
Dan Siegel, author of Mindsight has a theory of the 90 second time out. He says an emotion rises and falls like a wave after 90 seconds. It takes around 90 seconds to change your mood. Thoughts come in a cycle and this is why we find it difficult to stop thinking about someone.
So, here’s what you can do: Try not to think about the person for 90 seconds. Doing this, you have broken the toxic thought cycle. Since you have broken the chain of thoughts, you are now on the way of forgetting about the person.
10. Figure Out the Triggers
There might be triggers that remind you of the person. Maybe you drive by their house, or the place you met, their posts on social media. Find out these triggers and try to avoid them.
11. Shift Your Focus
Find something in your life that is more exciting than this person. You may have to do some digging or start from scratch. Perhaps, you might have to reevaluate your goals and the direction you want in life. But find something that excites you: a passion, a hobby, a bigger goal than this person. Every time you catch your mind going back to the thoughts of the person, put it back on your goal.
12. Meet New People
Finally, when you are content with yourself, meet new people who bring out the best in you. Good time with new people can make you feel better by distracting your mind. When you realize there’s so much more in real life to experience, you start forgetting about the person bit by bit.
13. Get to Know Yourself Better
This is the perfect opportunity to know yourself better. Write in a journal to explore your thoughts and emotions. Where do you want to go? What is something that you like the most about yourself?
The better you know yourself, the less you depend on someone else. Spending time with yourself will uncover so many things you didn’t know about your own self.
14. Pay Attention to Your Mental Health
In the process of stopping to think about someone, do not forget to pay attention to yourself. Your mental health is important and if whatever you do, does not help, then know that it’s time to seek professional help.
How to Stop Thinking About Someone Who Hurt You?
Constantly thinking a hurtful situation or person can hurt you more than the cause. This can set a toxic cycle which is difficult to break. When you catch yourself not being able to stop thinking about such a situation or person, try the following steps.
Grieve as much as you want to in the beginning. Let out your emotions, either through writing or speaking to a close friend. Don’t repress the emotions. Let it out. You can write about what happened, and your feelings.
2. Don’t Hold on to It
After one point, holding on to the thoughts of the person will only hurt more. Once you have grieved and let your emotions out, let the thoughts of the person go. Letting it go becomes a crucial part of forgetting about someone. If the person hurt you emotionally, know that you deserve better.
3. Distance Yourself
Distance yourself from the person. The more you stay in contact, the more they stay in your mind. Take a break from them on social media if that’s what is required.
In the beginning, you might feel ridiculous. And you might even doubt it. But remember, sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.
4. Try Not To Be Angry
Often, our biggest enemy is our own anger. We tend to be irrational when angry. So, to deal with others, we have to deal with our anger first. Our anger clouds our judgment, making it difficult for us to make a rational decision and see things clearly.
This becomes even more necessary when the person has done or said something hurtful or has wronged you in any way. But until you let go of anger, you can’t let go of thoughts of the person. Few things that can help: meditation, yoga, exercise. Whatever it takes, deal with yourself first to deal with anyone else.
5. Believe in Yourself
Believe that you can get through this. You have to start believing in yourself to be able to stop thinking of the person. Then, start your own ripple effect of happiness.
Studies have shown that exercise can boost dopamine (the happy chemical) release. Consequently, you feel good and better instantly. So, hit the gym or exercise at home, or go on a run.
How to Stop Thinking About Someone You Like?
Daydreaming about someone you really like is not dangerous until the thoughts disturb you every moment of your day or if you are unable to concentrate on your work. Instead of stalking them online, start the journey of finding yourself. Below are some effective ways you can try to stop thinking about the person you like.
1. Focused Distraction
Studies suggest that focused distraction is one of the most effective ways to manage intrusive thoughts. Focused distraction is when you focus on one thing rather than jumping from one activity to another. You may start reading a book, but read that book only, rather than reading 3 books at once. Aimless distraction can lead to distress, making things worse.
2. Express your feelings
If its a new crush you can’t stop gushing over, and if it is messing with your daily activities then its best to express your feelings to them. The outcome will be much more satisfying than speculations.
How to Stop Thinking About Someone You Hate?
Hatred or dislike for someone is the result of many underlying emotions. If the person you don’t like is on your mind 24/7 then try to self reflect and more such ways mentioned below.
1. Identify the Root of Your Emotions
Ask yourself why you feel what you feel for this person. Has the person hurt you or someone close to you? Do they have something you want? Be honest with yourself and dig deeper into your emotions. This is because identification leads to resolution.
2. Delete Them From Your Life
If the dislike has grown to hatred, to keep your sanity, it might be best to remove them from wherever you can. Block them on social media. If you are reaching for your phone every minute, then consider deleting their number. Once you can’t see them, your thoughts will be easier to deal with.
How to Stop Thinking About Someone Who Ignores You?
Being ignored brings a ton of emotions with it: confusion, sadness, insecurity, and the list goes on. Dealing with such emotions is hard in itself. But trying not to think about the person who ignores you can be more effective and faster in the following ways.
1. Give Them Space
Giving people their individual space is important. You might want to cling onto them and send 10 texts in a row, but that will just push them further away.
2. Avoid Jumping to Conclusions
It is human nature to assume the worst. But assumptions are almost always wrong. So, avoid assuming. For example, they might be having some personal problems, or they might be busy with their work.
3. Take Up New Activities
What is something that you always wanted to do but for some reason kept putting it off? Pursue your interests. Take up dancing again or pick the paintbrush again. Learn a new language if that’s what you would enjoy. HAVE FUN with yourself!
4. Hear Them Out
If and when they respond, try not to be rude and let them explain. One way to do this is to stay silent and let them speak. They’ll address it themselves.
5. Be Kind to Yourself
If you were attached to the person you can’t stop thinking about then it is possible you might start blaming yourself for the fallout. “I shouldn’t have said that”, or “I shouldn’t have done that” and just beating yourself over it is never the solution. Talk to yourself the way you would talk to others.
Things Not to Do to Stop Thinking About Someone
Try this for a minute: Do anything, but DO NOT think about how a lion looks.
DO NOT think of a lion.
So… did a hazy image of a lion appear in your mind?
This is what happens when you try your best not to think about something. You think about the exact same thing! This is why forcing yourself to forget someone won’t help, rather make things worse.
Then, what should you do?
Now try this again: Instead of a lion, think about a rabbit. Think of how a white rabbit runs in the grass and hides in the bushes.
So, what kind of image appeared in your mind?
It is safe to guess that it was anything but a lion.
Can you see the difference?
This is essentially how our brain works. So, don’t force yourself!
Human beings want to want. The problem is because you can’t act on it, the only thing left is your mental obsession. But here’s the truth: the obsession is not effective. It’s only messing with your serenity and concentration.
Understand everything is within you. Believe it. Keep doing this until you shine in all your light, all your love and wisdom. Let the person you want to stop thinking about be your past and don’t carry them into your future.
Megha Seth is a freelance writer specializing in health & wellness, spirituality, nutrition, and lifestyle content. A lover of books, food and all things Virginia Woolf. Interested in knowing the science and reason behind people's behavior, you can find her behind Psychology books. She is mesmerized by the vastness of the universe and believes we're just dust speck in the large scheme of the same. A mental health advocate, she wishes to bring positivity to the lives of people through The MindFool.