Dating and Relationship Advice

Whether you're trying to heal from a breakup or removing a toxic person from your life, you may need help getting someone off your mind. But anyone who's tried to do this knows it can be difficult, even when you consciously know it's necessary for your mental health and emotional well-being. We're here to help. Here are eight steps to help you stop thinking about someone.

1) Understand your reason

Clarify to yourself why you want to stop thinking about this person.

It might be related to pain: maybe you can no longer be in this person's life at all or in the way you want to. Thinking about this person may bring up grief or even anger.

Dig deeper: why are they so stuck in your mind? What is the story you're telling yourself about them and your previous relationship?

2) Write it down

Write down the story of what's going on. Start with only what a video camera would perceive. What is your daily life like? Don't include your feelings about it; just write down what an observer would see and hear.

Second, write about the last time you interacted with this person. How did it go? Who said what? Don't worry about getting things exactly right; just write what you remember. There shouldn't be words describing feelings in your narrative, just a description.

3) Read your story out loud

Read your story exactly the way it is. In the meantime, annotate the feelings that you experience while you're reading. Re-read it and think about the feelings you annotated — in front of a mirror, too, if you're comfortable. This process may take several weeks.

4) Write again

Write a story about how you want to feel throughout your day. Make sure it's not just a list. Do not include the person you're trying to stop thinking about. Be selective and specific in the words you choose.

This is not about having the ideal day; this is about the ideal feelings in your normal day. How do you want to feel while making breakfast? What feelings do you want to have while you're working or studying? When you engage with loved ones, whether it's your cat or your housemate, how do you want to feel?

5) Read it out loud (again)

Read this story out loud to yourself and focus on the feelings you've written down. Read slowly so you feel every word.

6) Repeat

Repeat step five daily while consciously calling to awareness the feelings you want to have. Simply imagining them can be enough to stop thinking about someone.

If it's not, toggle between reading the two stories you've written; read one story one day, the second story the next day, the original story the next day, the second story the next two days and increase the number of days you read the story about how you want to feel until it "replaces" the first story.

7) Accept your feelings

When the person pops into your mind, imagine yourself giving in to the thought and waving to it as it flows by you. Read your story about how you want to feel and call those feelings to mind and body each time the person comes to your mind. Leave thoughts about that person unclaimed: think of them as coming to you rather than yours or you doing something to cause them.

8) Be kind and gentle with yourself

This is not about getting it "right," this is about freeing your mind.