How do you stop thinking about someone you miss or care about?

We’ve all been there – all helplessly hung up over:

  • The crush who doesn’t have a clue about our secret feelings
  • The one we confessed our feelings to, but rejected or friend-zoned us in return
  • The ex who, if things were a little different, would gladly keep the relationship going
  • That person you’re secretly in love with, but you can’t have because they chose to marry a horrible person

I’ll admit – forgetting about someone you care deeply about is extremely difficult. It’s one of the hardest things to do in life – and the thought of trying to “forget” someone so important to you can make you feel shameful, guilty, or even evil.

But you know what? You should feel even MORE shameful, guilty, or even evil when you DON’T try to forget… because you owe it to your long-term emotional health NOT to dwell on hopeless cases. [R]

What’s More Important Than Your Feelings?

When you think about forgetting someone you deeply care about, you immediately get swamped by negative feelings like guilt, shame, fear, and regret.

And when you go back to thinking about that person again, all those negative feelings slowly go away.

Focusing on personal goals breaks the cycle of negative feelings

As a result, the natural tendency is to continue thinking about that person you care about so much, thinking that it’s the best course of action to take.

Which, of course, is pretty dumb when you know what’s at stake.

Think about it: Life is short. What’s more important: Avoiding negative feelings in life, or achieving the results you want in life?

“At some point you will have to move on… why prolong the inevitable?”

Hands down, your results are ALWAYS more important than your feelings. Success in love and life is all about the results you get from your efforts:

  • The more you get what you want out of life, the happier, more successful, and more at peace you’ll feel…
  • …and when you get less of the results you want, the less happy, less successful, and less at peace you’ll feel. It’s that simple.

In the end, it really depends on what you want more:

  1. Happiness, success, and peace of mind…
  2. …or that person you can’t stop thinking about.

Once you’re ready to choose #1, then it’s time to move on.

Source: Public breakup survey

The survey demonstrates the average breakup painfulness is within the 6.5 to 8 pain range (10 being most painful). Looking at these statistics, we can see that the majority of people generally find breakups very painful, hence demonstrating why moving on can be so difficult.

The sooner you are less driven by negative feeling, the sooner you reach a healthier state of mind… and this article will help you do just that.

The Wrong Way to Forget Something

Try this for a second: Whatever you do, DON’T think of what a pink elephant would look like in real life.

I’m serious. Don’t think of a pink elephant.

So… did the vague image of a pink elephant form in your mind? Of course it did.

Forcing yourself to forget an ex is unhealthy and destructive

And no matter how many times you’ve tried this exercise, the result is the same: Whenever you try to stop yourself from thinking about something, you’ll STILL end up thinking about it.

That’s why it’s precisely the WRONG way to stop thinking about someone. Forcing yourself won’t work – it only worsens your unhealthy obsession.

So let’s try something else instead…

The Right Way to Forget Something

Now try this: Instead of thinking of a pink elephant, think of a red giraffe. That’s right – a red giraffe. Think of what it would look like in the African savannah.

I’m serious. Think of a red giraffe against the sunset, stretching its neck to reach the leaves of a tall acacia tree.

Develop your mind to think of new thoughts

So what image formed in your head?

Whatever it was, it probably WASN’T a pink elephant.

Guess what? You “forgot” about the pink elephant.

See the difference?

That’s how the brain works. If you want to change your thoughts, it’s a lot better to replace an old thought with a new thought… than to merely suppress the old thought.

“replace an old thought with a new thought to eliminate negative feelings”

And when it comes to forgetting about someone you deeply care about, there are three proven ways to “replace” that person.

That’s up next.

The 3 Best Ways to Stop Thinking About Someone

Now, this person you deeply care about – you probably want to forget them, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this far into this article. So let’s jump right into the three best ways to get them out of your head for good:

#1: Replacement Technique.

This is the most straightforward way of using the “replacement” technique. Instead of thinking of that person, fill your mind with OTHER people – your friends, family, co-workers, gym buddies, etc. – by spending more time with them.

Spending more time with friends and loved ones is one surefire way of developing new experiences and forgetting the painful past

The more new experiences you gain with these new people, the less you’ll think of your painful past experiences.

#2: Intentional Forgetting.

Take note of the words, images, feelings, sights, sounds, etc. that make you stop whatever you’re doing and think of that person. Write them down. They may be:

  • Songs on the radio
  • Shows on TV
  • Gifts and mementos lying around the house

Whatever they might be, write them down… and then make an effort to change what those words, images, feelings, etc. mean to you.

Selective forgetting is a tactic used to distract the mind from triggers

For example: If the word “love” makes you think of that person, then make an effort to change what “love” means to you. For instance, when you hear the word “love,” start doing something you love. Do this over and over, as often as it takes, until “love” triggers positive, empowering emotions instead of negative, nostalgic ones. [R]

You might think you’re “fooling yourself” with this technique. In a way, you are. [R] But again, what matters more: Your feelings, or your results?

#3: Scrambling Memories

Scrambling removes the emotional connection of memories by distorting them

This one’s from the motivational legend, Anthony Robbins. Think of the memories about that other person that you simply can’t stop replaying over and over in your mind.

And then, scramble those memories somehow. For instance, take one of those memories, and then replay it in your mind in an unusual way, such as:

  • In black and white
  • Where everyone in the scene is morbidly fat
  • Playing the memory in reverse
  • Playing the memory in fast forward
  • Adding funny/silly/unusual characters, storylines, etc.

What scrambling does for you is that it removes the emotional hold your memories of the other person have over you. Your memories lose power, and you gain more control over your life. Try it out – you’ll be surprised!

Here’s a video of Mind Coach Luis Angel Echeverria explaining the technique in his words:

Why You Need to Stay Busy

The key word, again, is replacement. Life is all about the accumulation of experiences. The more new experiences you gain, the less painful your past experiences become… and there’s no sense dwelling on past experiences when you can’t change them.

Accumulate new experiences to replace painful past experiences

Gaining new experiences is easy when you have a busy, active lifestyle. So if you’re not busy enough, find ways to get busy and meet new people. It’s the fastest way to get over someone.

Start Right Now

This very moment, ask yourself: What memories of that other person keep replaying in your head? What words, images, things keep reminding you of them? What negative emotions do you need to address?

This article has shown you how to properly forget them. Get right to work, and reclaim that happy, successful life you once enjoyed.

Resources & References

Still require further information on how to forget the special person? Here are some more resources:

  1. A great talk by Matthew Hussey on the #1 cure for your broken heart
  2. Jutta Joormann & Tanya B. Tran. Rumination and intentional forgetting of emotional material. Cognition and Emotion 23(6), pp. 1233-1246. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02699930802416735 Accessed Aug 3, 2017
  3. Joormann, J., Hertel, P. T., Brozovich, F., & Gotlib, I. H. (2005). Remembering the Good, Forgetting the Bad: Intentional Forgetting of Emotional Material in Depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 114(4), 640-648. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0021-843X.114.4.640 Accessed Aug 3, 2017.
  4. How to get over your ex in 5 simple steps – an interesting insight on the similarities between addiction and love on your brain by SchoolOfAttraction
  5. Lynn Myers & Nazanin Derakshan. To forget or not to forget: what do repressors forget and when do they forget? Cognition and Emotion 18(4), pp. 495-511.