“I Can’t Stop Thinking About Him”
Whether you’re obsessing about a great guy you saw at the bar last week or your ex, who you dated for three years, it doesn’t much matter. The end result is the same – you can’t stop thinking about him. You want to text him, call him or just run over to his house.
“Dam, I can’t stop thinking about him!”
As annoying as this can be, there are some psychological and physical reasons for this guy to be stuck in your head.
As with much of what goes on in your life, it’s in large part, a matter of recognizing what’s going on in your mind and body to help you begin to work through the problem.
Along with obsessing usually comes compulsive behaviors.
If your mind is stuck on your ex, you may be engaging in compulsive behaviors such as texting him non-stop with whatever ramblings are running through your mind or trying to apologize and woo him back.
These compulsive behaviors may seem to be out of your control, but in reality, nothing is out of your control.
Learning that control can be challenging, but I know you’re not the type of woman to shy away from a challenge!
If you’re stuck on a guy you met a few weeks ago, you might have begun to imagine him in your life already.
Many times, women place a man on an undeserved pedestal, making them blind to any faults he may have.
Regardless of the reason, not only is your mind playing tricks on you, but your hormones are as well! Your body is getting an enjoyable high from the love chemicals it emits when you feel this way.
Your mind can quickly become addicted to these and coerce you into behaviors that will keep those chemical levels high.
In order to understand what’s causing these things to happen, we need to dig a little bit deeper so let’s get rolling!
You Can’t Stop Thinking About Him – Reason #1: Your RAS
Your Reticular Activating System, or RAS, is a bundle of nerves whose job it is to filter out the unnecessary information our brain receives and only keep what we need.
Some scientific models indicate that our minds receive more than two million pieces of information every second. Only about seven of those are stored for use later.
Your RAS is kind of like using Google® to search for something. Last week, you searched for ‘best apple pie recipes’.
Now, you go back and enter ‘best’ into the search bar. Before you can finish, what pops up? “Best apple pie recipes”!
Meanwhile, your RAS has been at work in much the same way. You want an apple pie recipe so you suddenly see them everywhere. They’re on the bag of flour you bought; they’re on the cover of your favorite magazine; they’re turning up on Facebook and even on television commercials.
Your RAS created a filter, much like Google® does, for apple pie recipes.
While those two million bits of information are coming in, only those relating to apple pie are kept because you determined it to be important.
Let’s relate this back to your man problem of why you can’t stop thinking about him.
This guy has been placed in your mind as important.
He’s garnered a place in the RAS.
If you smell another guy who wears the same cologne, you’ll think of him. If you see a shirt similar to the one he was wearing, you’ll think of him.
Your RAS has created the guy filter and different inputs are reminding you of him all the time. If the guy is an ex, he already holds a place of importance in your life, so that filter was long ago put into place.
You Can’t Stop Thinking About Him – Reason #2: Chemistry
This one, again, is all about your brain, except this time, we’re dealing with chemistry.
When you are in love or feel that instant flush of infatuation, your brain releases some chemicals – we’ll call them happy hormones.
Adrenaline, Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin and Vasopressin create a dangerous cocktail of hormones which go whirring around, making you feel all warm and fuzzy.
While this seems all well and good – I mean who doesn’t want to feel this way, right?
The truth is that your body can quickly become addicted to this feeling – the high of excess amounts of these hormones raging through your body.
Science tells us that your body’s addiction to these chemicals can be more difficult to overcome than an addiction to cocaine!
For that reason, your mind will begin to suggest behaviors which will keep these hormone levels higher. You will think about him and all of your good times.
Perhaps you will engage in some risky behavior like drinking too much, binge eating or going on a shopping spree.
All of these things bring you a temporary false high as you experience that same rush of hormones.
Of course, your brain doesn’t care that in the end, thinking about him isn’t good for you, it just wants those hormones and it will entice you to do anything to keep those levels up.
You Can’t Stop Thinking About Him – Reason #3: His Body Language
Often, you can learn a lot about someone by reading their body language.
This guy may have subconsciously been working to attract you to him with his body language. While he wasn’t intentionally sending you signals, you may have picked some up.
One such signal is whether or not he appears to be calm.
Someone who is nervous will be fidgety, have arms and hands flailing all over and may even stand with arms crossed.
Someone who is calm will have relaxed arms and won’t appear to be nervous or fidgety.
Women tend to find this lower-stress man more attractive. He may be more at ease talking to you, which puts you more at ease as well.
Another body language cue might be manspreading. I know, it’s annoying and I even heard some subway systems have signs up asking men not to do this.
But the truth is, if he’s manspreading, he is asserting his dominance over the space you’re both occupying.
This position, which may include him sitting back in his seat with his arm resting on the seat back beside him, is a very open and inviting position.
Some call this space maximizing instead of manspreading, which I have to admit, seems less offensive.
A third way in which his body language can draw you in is how he relates to the friends he’s with.
A man who is sullen, perhaps with drooped shoulders and not really engaging with his friends holds no attraction.
But, a man who is openly back-slapping his friends, maybe putting the occasional arm over another guy’s shoulder or giving the brief guy hug, is coming off as someone who shows social dominance.
This guy is upbeat, confident and happy. Who doesn’t want to be around that guy!?
Survive Your Last Negative Breakup
In He’s Gone, Now What?, I work on explaining the multi-faceted reaction you’re having to this breakup. No breakup is easy on you, physically or emotionally, regardless of whether you initiated it or he did. This book contains Survival Tactics which help you:
- Understand what’s going on inside you – physically and mentally – you’re not going crazy
- Learn how to process all of the emotions and stages of grief you’re experiencing
- Uncover the pattern behind your past negative relationship patterns and make a course correction
- Come out of this breakup on the other side – happy, healthy and ready to date great men!
You Can’t Stop Thinking About Him – Reason #4: Suppression
Have you ever tried to stop eating sugar? What do you think about 24/7?
Yup, that’s right. SUGAR!
It’s so annoying to want to get rid of something in your life and yet, all you can think about is that. one. thing. Give me a dozen Dunkin Donut’s glazed donuts and there gone!!
It consumes your thoughts, no matter how far down you try to stuff it.
The same thing is going on with this guy. You’re trying to suppress your thoughts of him but it’s having the opposite effect.
Some call suppression ‘thought stopping’. The problem with thought stopping is that it leads to what they call ‘thought rebounding’.
What this means is that the more you try to suppress something, the more likely you are to think about it. Along with these thoughts can come anxiety and depression.
If it’s an ex boyfriend you’re trying to suppress, you may feel depressed at your inability to remove him from your life. If he was abusive or the relationship was particularly stressful, you may also feel anxious thinking about him.
With thought stopping, you may be able to suppress your thoughts for some period of time, like ten minutes, but when that time is up, the thoughts will be even more prevalent than they were before.
In other words, if you try to stop thinking about your ex for ten minutes, in the next moments after, you’ll think about him even more!
It defeats the whole purpose.
You Can’t Stop Thinking About Him – Reason #5: Grief
This one pertains mainly to eliminating thoughts about your ex. When you grieve a relationship, it’s different than grieving the death of someone.
There are nine stages of grieving a relationship, which you can find in more detail in my best-selling He’s Gone, Now What? – Breakup book for women
Several of these stages can lead you to think obsessively of your ex. One of those is the Denial Stage.
In this stage, you are telling yourself that the breakup isn’t real. You have difficulty imagining your life without him and you believe, falsely, that he’s going through some sort of phase. He’ll be back soon.
All you need to do is wait.
Another stage of grieving your relationship that keeps your ex foremost in your thoughts is when you go on a hunt for answers.
Why did this breakup happen? You thought everything was great and now, you’re alone. Why? Why? Why?
This is an exercise in futility because it’s leading you to ultimately believe that knowing the why will help you resolve the problem. It’s an attempt to invalidate the breakup.
The truth is that knowing the why, if you can ever figure it out, won’t help with anything.
Internal and external bargaining, two additional stages of grieving, are perfect for keeping a man in your thoughts.
With external bargaining, you determine that you’ll do anything to get him back. You obsess over what was wrong and how you can make repairs.
When you engage in internal bargaining, you’re going the route of “If only I had done…” You begin to imagine a false reality where you acted differently and there was a different outcome – you’re still together.
With any of these stages of grief, your mind is playing tricks on you in an attempt to get those happy hormones we talked about earlier flowing again.
How to Stop Thinking About Him
Make Positive Changes
So, what’s the answer? How do you stop thinking about him?
Break your routine!
The trick is to retrain your brain with different thinking. This isn’t thought stopping, but rather, focusing your thoughts differently.
We are so afraid of change, and yet, change is what keeps us growing and improving ourselves. We fear the unknown and this keeps us locked into the same life, day after day.
What if…stay with me now…
What if you decided that tomorrow, you were going to go to a different coffee shop?! Your ex always seems to show up at your usual haunt and it just brings you down.
What if you decided to take a cooking class, a class on blowing glass or a class on learning to kayak? Hmm?
Or, what if you opted to take some classes to advance your career?
What if you took up dancing, playing the piano or painting?
Change Your Friendships
Maybe your friends are positive, happy people but perhaps they aren’t. At least not all of them.
When we surround ourselves with negative people, we focus on the negatives in our lives – the things we don’t have versus what we do have.
Friends who are always making those positive changes in their own lives inspire us to do the same.
Whereas friends who sit around every night drinking and lamenting over their crappy lives bring us down.
It’s time to lift yourself up with positive friends.
Remove Him from His Pedestal
You thought I forgot that you’d put him on that pedestal didn’t you? Nope.
Even if you only met him briefly, you could have placed him on that imaginary pedestal.
He was handsome – his first few inches up the pedestal.
This man’s eyes were incredible – he creeps up a little more.
He was funny – he skyrocketed up quite a bit.
This guy said all of the right things – he’s now inching up even more.
He touched you and you nearly fainted – boy oh boy is this guy moving up!
And he asked for your number and even texted you good night (before he faded into the woodwork forever) – now he’s sitting squarely on top of a pedestal he didn’t really earn.
Take his ass down!
You have glorified his actions and turned him into some undeserving superhero.
For all you know, this guy hates his mother, never flosses and purposely runs over squirrels!
His clothes are torn t-shirts he’s had since 1995 that walk themselves to the washer because he’s a lazy slob.
I don’t care who he is, never place a guy on a pedestal like that. We don’t want to be up there. It makes us uncomfortable.
A man feels your expectations of him are too high when he’s atop his perch. He doesn’t want you to think of him as some god. He wants to be equal to you, not high up in your clouded vision.
Yes, you can appreciate a man for his good traits. In fact, he would enjoy hearing a little appreciation once in a while, but make him earn it!
“Wow John! It’s really great of you to remember that I love Italian!” That, we like to hear!
Go No Contact
This one can be difficult but, if you don’t want him back in your life, why are you still talking to him?
I get it if he’s an ex and you have property or kids together. Even then, you can keep your conversations only on those subjects.
The problem is that your obsession with a guy often leads to the compulsion to talk to him. This is where you need to dig into that hobby or find a book to read.
Distract your mind from him – don’t try to stop the thoughts – try to shift their focus to something else.
If this man you can’t stop thinking about has hurt you in some way, you need to forgive him.
Forgiveness isn’t for the person you’re forgiving, it’s for you.
Forgiveness also isn’t you saying that what happened was okay.
It’s your way of letting go of the anger. People we remain angry with often don’t even realize we’re still angry.
While they are consuming your every thought, chances are, it’s not mutual.
Anger is often called allowing someone to live rent-free in your head. They occupy space something else could occupy – something wonderful.
Holding anger gives others power over you. Break the cycle!
Forgiving opens up that space and boots out that squatter who’s been holding that rent-free spot. It also opens up space in your heart for new love!
What’s a Girl to Do?
When you find that you can’t stop thinking about him, consider why he’s stuck there and begin to work through the solutions I have given you.
It’s not impossible to change your thinking, but it does take a conscious effort, day in and day out.
Yes, it’s hard, but it’s worth it because, in the end, you will find yourself at peace with not having him around.
It’s in that peaceful existence that you will find yourself happy and ready to move forward with your life!