It’s not uncommon to have someone that you just can’t seem to get off of your mind. Whether it’s an ex-partner, an old friend, or even someone you just met, having someone stay on your mind can be frustrating and distracting. However, rest assured that this is a common experience and there are reasons why it may be happening. In this article, we will explore why you might not be able to get someone off of your mind and provide you with actionable steps you can take to move on.
The science behind why you can’t stop thinking about someone
There are several psychological and biological factors that contribute to why you might not be able to get someone off of your mind.
The Zeigarnik Effect
The Zeigarnik Effect is a psychological phenomenon that explains why unfinished tasks or unresolved thoughts tend to stay top-of-mind. Essentially, when something is left incomplete, our minds continue to revisit it, trying to find resolution. If there is someone in your life that you haven’t fully resolved your feelings or thoughts about, your mind may continue to revisit them.
The pleasure centers of the brain
When we experience pleasure, our brains release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for making us feel good. Research has shown that when we experience strong emotions, such as those involved in a new romantic relationship or the end of a long-term one, our brains release a surge of dopamine that can create an intense longing for that same experience again.
Our attachment styles, or the ways in which we form connections with others, can also contribute to why we might not be able to get someone off of our minds. If we have an anxious attachment style, for example, we may become preoccupied with someone who is not currently present in our lives, as we are constantly seeking reassurance and connection.
What to do when you can’t stop thinking about someone
While not being able to stop thinking about someone can be frustrating, there are steps you can take to help move on.
Mindfulness is the practice of being present and aware in the current moment. By focusing on the present, you can help your mind let go of thoughts about the person who is occupying your mind. Try deep breathing exercises or meditation to help ground yourself in the present moment.
If there is someone in your life that you haven’t fully resolved your feelings or thoughts about, try to find closure. This can mean having a conversation with the person or even just journaling about your thoughts and feelings to help process them.
Engage in self-care
Engaging in self-care can help distract your mind from thoughts about the person who is occupying your thoughts. Consider taking up a new hobby, spending time with friends or family, or practicing self-care routines, such as yoga or meditation.
While not being able to get someone off of your mind can be frustrating, it’s important to remember that it’s a common experience and there are steps you can take to help move on. By understanding the science behind why you might be experiencing these thoughts and feelings and taking actionable steps to move forward, you can find a sense of inner peace and live your life to the fullest.
What does it mean when you can’t stop thinking about someone?
There are several psychological and biological factors that contribute to why you might not be able to get someone off of your mind. Some of these factors may include the Zeigarnik Effect, pleasure centers in the brain, and attachment styles.
How do you stop thinking about someone who is always on your mind?
There are several actionable steps you can take to help move on from someone who is always on your mind. These can include practicing mindfulness, finding closure, and engaging in self-care.
How long does it take to stop thinking about someone you love?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how long it takes to stop thinking about someone you love. The amount of time it takes can depend on several factors, including the nature of the relationship, the intensity of feelings, and the resilience of the individual.
Landau, M. J., & Halperin, E. (2009). The Zeigarnik effect revisited: The role of incompletion in the experience of interruption. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35(5), 669–677.
Aron, A., Fisher, H., Mashek, D. J., Strong, G., Li, H., & Brown, L. L. (2005). Reward, motivation, and emotion systems associated with early-stage intense romantic love. Journal of Neurophysiology, 94(1), 327–337.
Mikulincer, M., & Shaver, P. R. (2016). Attachment orientations and emotion regulation. Current Opinion in Psychology, 10, 1–6.