Help! I Can’t Stop Thinking About Someone

Medically reviewed by Majesty Purvis
Updated February 20, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Do you find yourself constantly thinking about someone, unable to let them go? If so, it may be helpful to know that many people struggle to move on from a significant person in their life. To stop thinking about the person who’s been on your mind, you might look at the root of your attachment to them. Next, you can identify triggers that lead to recurring thoughts about that person and replace any negative or intrusive thoughts with positive ones. It may be helpful to engage in new experiences and create new memories, as well as to practice mindfulness and meditation. Therapy can also be a helpful tool throughout this process.

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Do you find it difficult to let go?

The concept of letting go

Letting go can be defined as the process of releasing our attachment to a person or object. It can be an important part of maintaining mental health and well-being. When we are unable to let go, we may become trapped in our thoughts and emotions, potentially unable to move forward with our lives.

There can be many reasons someone might be unable to let go of a person or situation, such as low self-esteem, guilt, fear, unresolved issues, or even a desire for closure. While these feelings and thoughts may be valid, ultimately, it is usually up to us to move on with our lives and let go of the things holding us back.

As we explore the concept of letting go, it can be important to remember that everyone tends to have a unique experience and process when releasing their attachment. That being said, some practical strategies can be instrumental in helping you let go.

How to stop thinking about someone

Breaking up or otherwise ending a relationship with someone you care about can be incredibly painful, and it can be hard to move on when unwanted thoughts of the person consume your mind. However, there are steps you can take to break free from the cycle of obsessive thoughts and move on to a happier, healthier future.

Here are five strategies for stopping thoughts about someone:

  1. Recognize the root of your attachment: Before moving forward, it can be important to understand why you're fixating on this person. Does this situation involve unrequited love? Are you afraid of being alone? Are you seeking closure? Once you identify the root of your attachment, you can start to address it directly and use that knowledge to move forward.
  2. Identify triggers that lead to thoughts of the person: Do certain places, smells, or activities remind you of this person? By identifying and avoiding these triggers or finding ways to replace them with positive associations, you may break the cycle of negative thoughts.
  3. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones: When you dwell on memories or negative thoughts, you can try to replace them with positive memories or affirmations. For instance, instead of thinking about how much you miss this romantic interest or ex-partner, you can focus on how grateful you are for the experiences you had.
  4. Create new memories and engage in new experiences: One effective way to move on may be to create new memories and engage in new experiences. Taking a class, learning a new skill, planning a trip, or volunteering can help you focus on the present and experience new things. Doing so can build a sense of excitement and possibility for the future.
  5. Practice mindfulness and meditation: Practicing mindfulness and meditation may calm your thoughts and bring you into the present moment. When you spend time each day to breathe deeply and focusing on the sensations in your body, you may cultivate a state of mindfulness. You may find your thoughts about the person become less intense over time.
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Why letting go can be effective

Letting go of attachment is often an important part of taking care of your mental health and well-being. This process can be emotionally challenging, but there may be psychological and physiological reasons why it works in our favor.

Attachment can refer to the way we feel about people or things. It may be the connection we have with them or how they function as a part of our support system. We can become attached to someone when we care about them, like we would with family or friends. You can also form an attachment to a hobby or place you enjoy and don't want to let go of. 

Attachments can make us feel safeguarded. Hormones like dopamine and oxytocin tend to be released in our brains when we form attachments, typically making us feel emotionally connected to someone or something. These good feelings can become part of our brain chemistry, which can make it difficult to let go.

However, attachment can also lead to chronic stress when it's time to let go. This stress can have a detrimental effect on our physical and mental health, possibly leading to insomnia, depression, and anxiety.

The role of brain chemistry in attachment and letting go can also be key. When we become attached to someone or something, the same hormones released when we form the attachment can become imbalanced. This imbalance can result in you feeling depressed or anxious. Cortisol, the hormone associated with stress, may also be released when we experience loss or disappointment. Increased cortisol levels can lead to feelings of distress, further intensifying the attachment.

We can begin to rebalance our brain chemistry by utilizing strategies like identifying triggers and replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. That may be why practicing self-compassion and forgiveness can be important when letting go of an attachment. Allowing yourself to feel your emotions and be kind to yourself can help you healthily move through the process.

When you forgive yourself, the release of "feel-good" chemicals like serotonin and oxytocin can help you start feeling more balanced. Serotonin and oxytocin are frequently linked to happiness, contentment, and relaxation. By practicing self-compassion, you can begin to reset your brain chemistry and open yourself up to new possibilities.

Moving forward after letting go

Letting go of an attachment can be difficult, but it may also be an opportunity to start over. When you are spending time and energy working through your emotions and resetting your brain chemistry, you may feel more open and ready to explore new relationships or activities. These new opportunities can be a great chance to focus on self-growth and self-discovery.

Moving on doesn't have to mean completely forgetting the past. Sometimes, it can be vital to honor and remember the things that brought you joy and use them as motivation for what comes next. You don't have to jump into a new relationship or hobby quickly. Instead, you can focus on setting healthy boundaries and getting to know yourself better.

These moments of self-discovery can be incredibly rewarding. You may find that you're able to explore aspects of yourself that you never knew existed, potentially leading to exciting new experiences or more meaningful relationships. However, boundaries and self-care can be paramount when exploring new possibilities. You should generally take your time and establish firm boundaries with yourself and others, so you don't overextend yourself or get into an unhealthy situation.

Mental health benefits and effectiveness of online therapy

Online therapy can be a helpful resource for finding the courage to face your feelings and take steps to heal. With experienced guidance from a licensed mental health professional, you can create an action plan that works for you and take control of your healing journey. The added personalization and convenience of online therapy can make it more comfortable to take the first steps toward growth and healing.

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Do you find it difficult to let go?

While not much research currently exists on the efficacy of online therapy for stopping persistent thoughts about a person, a large body of evidence suggests that online therapy is typically just as effective as in-person therapy. If you’re interested in seeking professional help with mental health challenges, both online and in-person therapy may be valid options. In addition to attachment struggles, a licensed therapist may be able to help you with a wide range of mental health conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and anxiety.

Takeaway

It can be common to frequently think about someone who played a significant role in your daily life, even if you don’t want to think about them. To move past these thoughts, it may be helpful to first consider the root of your attachment to this person. You may also find it beneficial to identify any triggers that seem to bring about these thoughts. Engaging in new experiences, creating new memories, and practicing mindfulness and meditation can also make a difference. Working with a therapist may be ideal if you find that you can’t seem to let go of these thoughts on your own.

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The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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