What To Do If You Are Thinking Of Someone
Updated December 03, 2019
Reviewer Aaron Dutil
Finding yourself easily distracted by unwanted thoughts about someone? Ever wonder if it is possible to control such intrusive thoughts? Here are some suggestions for doing so.
Step 1. Identify the reason why you are thinking about that person.
Certain people in our lives have a profound effect upon us, and other times it can be confusing as to why a particular person is on our minds. If you find yourself thinking about someone more and more and do not understand why, the first step is to identify what it is about that person that has you thinking about them. This can sometimes be a bit difficult, so an ideal place to start is to get in touch with how you feel about the person you are thinking about. Emotions are quite telling and will help you understand the reasons behind why you are thinking about them so much.
There is an interesting connection between our thoughts and feelings. You may have heard it said that thoughts are rational, and feelings are irrational. This seems logical on the surface, but in reality, it's the exact opposite. While there are some biochemical exceptions to this rule, the majority of the time, you must have a 'cognition' (thought, interpretation, evaluation, perception, expectation, belief) before you experience a certain feeling. So while you, and certainly others, may not initially understand why you feel the way you do, if you track the feeling back to your thoughts, the feeling should make perfect sense. However, the same cannot be confidently said about cognition, which informed the feeling in the first place. Our thoughts, impressions, and conclusions can be astoundingly inaccurate, illogical, or based upon incomplete - or flat out wrong - information. Thoughts inform feelings, which lead to actions. So, there is a very logical progression from what we are thinking or telling ourselves, to how we feel, to the behavior we choose.
One additional step in this process is gaining an accurate understanding of our genuine feelings. This may seem obvious, but that may not always be the case. Anger can often mask other 'softer' emotions. For instance, you may feel too exposed or vulnerable to feel embarrassment, pain, disappointment, or loneliness. We may recognize anger in place of those 'softer' emotions as a way of lessening our exposure and vulnerability. The problem with such replacements is that it is more difficult to understand and address our emotions if we are not clear about what we are actually feeling. If we think we are angry when we are really experiencing something else, it can make tracking that feeling back to the initial thought more challenging as well.
A few common emotions that cause people to become preoccupied with the thought of another person are:
Gaining an accurate understanding of both what we are thinking, and what we are actually feeling about the other person, will help us better respond to those thoughts and feelings.
Step 2. Weigh your options.
When you are thinking of someone, it may mean you have something to sort out with him or her. Contacting and speaking with the person about whom you are thinking can be scary because responses can vary. We often fear things like rejection, conflict, or allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, which makes it difficult to decide if it is in our own best interest to contact the other person.
The two options available to you with regard to this are simple: contact the person, or don't. A great way to make this decision is to determine both the best and worst-case scenarios and identify the most realistic outcome of contacting this person. Weighing the potential benefits and consequences is an excellent way to decide whether or not it would be wise, and/or beneficial, to directly address the other person.
This may include considering what you hope to accomplish by communicating with this person. You certainly do not have complete control over the interaction (only your part in it), but you do have significant control over your intentions and subsequent actions. What is your agenda? What are you hoping will occur as a result of the interaction? Asking yourself such questions may help you decide whether initiating such communication is likely to produce the result for which you hope.
Step 3. Work through the concerns and stress.
Once you have made your decision whether or not to contact the person you are thinking about, it is time for preparation. You may face a variety of thoughts and feelings. You might feel some trepidation about contact, or sadness at the thought of leaving it alone.
If you decide to contact the person, you may feel apprehensive about being in a vulnerable position. The exposure of 'putting yourself out there' can be nerve-wracking, so it helps to keep in mind the potential benefits you identified previously. If you decide to contact this person and things go well, you will know you made the best decision for both of you. If it does not go well, at least you did what you could to find inner peace, even if it did not work out as you hoped.
This is a really great time to write out what you hope to share. You may want to begin by writing all your thoughts, feelings, hopes, intentions, and expectations in a flow of consciousness. This is a pretty good strategy for helping you understand your own experience. Knowing that you are writing for your eyes only produces the freedom to treat this initial stage of writing as unloading of all your internal reality onto paper. Then, once you have taken as many days as necessary to feel confident you have written everything on your mind or in your heart, you can begin to edit those more random, fluid thoughts into a format that can be used as cohesive, written communication. You may decide not to actually send it to the other person, but it can serve as a really effective way to organize your own thoughts as well as guide your conversation if that is what you have decided to do.
Step 4. Take the plunge.
Initiating contact that may not be expected or welcomed by the other person could make the interaction difficult, but you may be surprised by the positive results. There are ways to talk about how you feel in productive ways in order to reduce conflict, while still making sure you are heard and understood by the person you've been thinking about. You certainly want to be intentional at this stage. Since you have taken the time, effort, and energy to decide to share with the other person, you want to do everything in your power to have a positive interaction.
If you're the one calling the meeting, you should take the time to focus on listening skills and using your best talking strategies. Here are a few suggestions for doing so:
- Be confident and straightforward. Sit up straight. Look the other person in the eyes. Smile.
- Speak for yourself. Use 'I' statements. You are not speaking for the other person. You are sharing your own thoughts, feelings, and reality. "I" statements are less likely to incite defensiveness on the part of the listener than "you" statements
- Be honest and transparent without presuming a specific response. Respect the other person enough to allow them to respond as they choose.
- Be patient and open. Remember that while you may have been ruminating about what you want to share with the other person for days, weeks, months, or even years, he or she may have no idea you've been thinking and feeling the way you do. This could come as a shock to them. They may need a little time to ponder, reflect, or ask clarifying questions about what you are now sharing. What may feel very 'old' and familiar to you deserves time for consideration by the other person. It is almost always to your benefit to allow as much time as the other person needs before expecting any response. You might even lead with the assurance that you do not expect any response at the moment. This can alleviate potential pressure felt by the other person and could allow for a more pleasing result.
It can also be helpful to have extra support. Consider talking through the situation, and concerns, with a friend, family member, or therapist. It is often very productive to solicit the perspective of those less emotionally invested in the entire situation than you are likely to be. BetterHelp has over 4,000 licensed counselors who are experts at helping others achieve their goals. You can chat with them online, by phone or schedule a video meeting, at your convenience. Below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.
"Rickie is very good at understanding what you are trying to convey and provides constructive ways in which to change your thoughts and behaviors. She is kind and supportive in her communications. She likes to get you to figure out why you are doing certain behaviors so that you can change any negative behaviors."
"I worked with another counselor for over 6 months before working with Arielle Ballard. In one 30 minute session, I got more accomplished in terms of structuring goals, building coping mechanisms, and recognizing thought patterns, than I had in the 6 months working with the other counselor. I'm pleased with my progress and am very grateful to Arielle."
Moving on is also difficult. It can be upsetting to leave behind the thoughts and feelings you have for the person you are thinking about, but it would be in your best interest to let go and move forward should you decide not to talk to the person. It can often be difficult to move on, but with time, space, and acceptance of the situation, you will be able to move forward with your life and feel peace about your decision.