Can’t get you out of my head
So you thought you were over that breakup, huh? The reality is a bit different: You can’t stop thinking about your ex. Maybe she got under your skin, or maybe he ended up ghosting you.
No matter how romantic connections end, it’s hard to let go and move on – especially when you can’t stop thinking about someone.
The same also goes for non-romantic connections, too, like friendships and even acquaintances.
Pretty much anyone can weigh on your mind. We talked to expert therapists to understand why it’s hard to get someone out of your head and how to do it successfully.
Why it’s hard to stop thinking about someone
When someone’s stuck in your mind, you’ve usually succumbed to rumination – obsessive, constant and repetitive thinking. Think of it as thoughts running endlessly on a hamster wheel.
How difficult it is to stop thinking about people comes down to who they were to you and what they meant to you in your life at the time, according to Jane Greer, a marriage and family therapist and author of What About Me?
Maybe a former flame had given you visions of forever. Maybe a friend offered comfort in your time of need. There are many reasons people keep thinking about others, even when they don’t want to.
And it’s not just past connections who may be running a loop in your mind. You can ruminate on new friends and acquaintances too.
The good news is that doing this occasionally is completely normal, according to Dr Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist.
It only becomes a problem when coping skills (more on those in a bit) don’t help and you feel like you can’t control your thoughts.
So why might your mind latch onto thoughts of someone?
We’re all human
Human beings need connection, says Paul Hokemeyer, a clinical and consulting psychotherapist and author of Fragile Power.
“This need for connection is hardwired into our central nervous system,” he says. “It’s primitive and instinctual, not rational or intellectual.”
And the quality and quantity of emotional connections relate to self-esteem. Our human relationships allow us to feel safe and of value in the world, according to Hokemeyer.
“They fill us up when they are good and deplete us when they turn sour,” he says. “So it’s completely natural that we will feel out of control when someone who touches us deeply enters and exits our lives.”