What it really means when someone keeps coming to mind

Does it seem like a certain someone is constantly on your mind?

Maybe you cannot stop thinking about him, and it’s driving you crazy.

If you’re looking for answers about what it means when someone is heavily on your mind or what you can do about it — I feel you.

As a self-proclaimed overthinker, I am prone to compulsive thoughts. And nothing triggers this in me quite like love and romance.

Whether I like it or not, I can easily find myself lost in a maze of thinking about someone. Sometimes so much so that I can’t sleep, eat or concentrate on other things.

But after years of trying to keep my mind in check, I’ve also done a lot of research to understand some of the causes and triggers of this.

And, more importantly, I’ve also found some really useful tools to take charge of my thoughts, rather than be at the mercy of them.

In this article, I’ll cover potential reasons why someone keeps coming to mind, and (if you want to) how you can stop thinking about them.

Is it true that if you’re thinking about someone they are thinking about you too?

I’ve seen this idea floating around, with some sources suggesting that someone comes to mind because they are also thinking about you.

Who knows, maybe there is some psychic or telepathic truth to that.

But how do you know if someone is thinking of you? Let’s face it, the only definitive answer is to ask them. Otherwise, you’re always just guessing.

Especially if this is someone you care about and hope is thinking of you too, there’s more of a chance its wishful thinking.

Usually, you thinking about somebody says far more about how you are feeling and thinking than it does about anybody else.

It’s also probably not the best thing for your mental health to go down that route of wondering whether a person is thinking about you too — which can quickly lead to unhealthy obsessing.

I really think that working out what’s going on in your own head and heart is always the best place to start when looking for explanations.

When someone is always on your mind what does it mean?

1) They create a strong emotional response in you

Maybe it’s love, a crush, or infatuation. Or maybe it’s the opposite end of the spectrum, and you are feeling hurt, anger, and sadness toward someone.

One thing is for sure, we human beings are instinctively emotionally driven creatures.

Our thoughts and feelings are closely linked. Anything that generates a strong emotional trigger in you is likely to occupy your thinking.

The same also goes for the other way around too. The more you think about something, the more it is going to impact the way you feel about it, too.

The thing is, we don’t spend much time pondering things we don’t really care about.

That means there’s a good chance this person is on your mind because you do care about them in some way, shape, or form.

2) You’re attracted to them

Biology is powerful.

It knows what it’s doing and it’s prepared to pump a powerful cocktail of hormones into you to make it happen (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

This idea of being “lovesick” is a familiar notion to us.

But it’s perhaps less about love and more about the chemical reactions happening in your body when you’re feeling attraction.

I know, that doesn’t sound quite as romantic.

Butterflies in the stomach, sweaty palms and constantly thinking about someone are common side effects of the release of brain chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin, adrenaline, and vasopressin.

A strong attraction to someone is going to mean that they are on your mind — blame Mother Nature.

3) Your brain is trying to problem solve

There’s a difference between rumination and mental problem-solving — but sometimes the two can look quite similar.

Often we need to think things through so that we can process how we feel and figure things out.

Whenever something happens, it’s natural for the brain to try and understand what is going on.

If he didn’t text you when you thought he would, he suddenly “went cold,” he is giving you some mixed signals, or a million and one potential things  — your mind might slip into overthinking.

The difficulty is: When you can’t come to a conclusion or get an answer, repetitive thoughts start to occur.

Your brain cannot crack the code or find a solution, so it just goes around and around in an endless loop.

It’s no wonder all that mental energy spent is exhausting and can create anxiety.

This is what we’d call rumination and falls more into the category of dwelling on things that we cannot change or control.

4) You’re romanticizing

Do perfect rom-com-style scenarios play out in your brain?

Can you picture him down on one knee, or envisage you two kissing in the rain?

Do you find yourself drifting off into visualizations about your future life together? The dog you’ll buy, the home you’ll live in, and the trips you’ll take together.

Sounds like you could have a common case of overly romanticizing this person.

Of course, you might be in love and at a stage in your relationship where this isn’t just a fairytale.

But this also commonly happens during the beginning of (or even before) a romance too.

Nothing has been tainted yet with the stark light of reality, so we’re tempted to drift off into the soft glow of fantasy when we think about them.

It’s natural, and most of us project onto a potential or new partner in some way or another. We’re all guilty of wearing rose-tinted glasses occasionally.

But it becomes more problematic whenever it’s taking over or when it leads to unrealistic expectations further down the line.

Life has a way of not quite living up to the power of your imagination.

5) You’re escaping

Distraction is addictive.

Anyone who has ever found themselves endlessly scrolling their social media feed when they really should be focusing on their tax return will tell you that.

The brain is hardwired to avoid discomfort and seek pleasure.

When we are rewarded (with a good feeling) by any type of behavior, we start to form what’s known as a compulsion loop.

We repeat the behavior so we can be rewarded with another little neurochemical hit of dopamine.

So if thinking of someone creates a good feeling, it’s easy to see how we want to keep repeating that. Especially when the alternative is something somewhat more mundane.

It’s a similar situation with daydreaming. As many as 96 per cent of adults will engage in at least one episode of daydreaming a day. Daydreaming can be characterized as “thinking for pleasure”.

And even though daydreaming may have been given a bad rap over the years, recent research has found it does bring health benefits — including increased well-being or improved pain tolerance.

Of course, this works on the assumption that thinking or daydreaming about someone is bringing you pleasure.

But what if it doesn’t?

There are occasions when we wish we could get somebody out of our heads, but we can’t seem to stop thinking about them.

The next section of this article will talk about that.

How to stop thinking about someone

Some thoughts we indulge because they feel good to us.

As we’ve seen, this type of daydreaming behavior has been shown to have positive effects — that’s why we do it.

But there’s a darker side that can quickly emerge.

What happens when we find ourselves constantly thinking of someone, but rather than it being pleasurable — it brings us pain?

The stinging heartbreak after a breakup, the disappointing blow of an unrequited crush, or that guy who never called after a date.

There are plenty of situations when thinking about someone quite frankly makes us feel like crap.

We wish we could stop, but 5 minutes later…boom…there they are again.

The problem is that thinking about certain situations and people can quickly become a habit.

Compulsive thoughts often feel distressing and as though you have no real control over them.

But the good news is that you can take practical steps to stop yourself from thinking about someone.

How do I stop obsessing over someone I can’t have? This is a question I’ve faced many times in life — too many in fact (boo-hoo me).

But rather than throw a pity party, here are some tips and tricks that have really worked for me to take back control of my mind.

1) Notice the thought, label the thought, then redirect the thought.

Awareness is key to changing absolutely anything in life.

We can’t alter something until we see it for what it really is. That’s why the first step is to become vigilant with your thoughts.

How many times have your thoughts seemed to take on a life of their own? 5 minutes later you don’t even remember how this train of thought even started.

If you’re anything like most of us, the answer is probably LOTS.

Thought labeling can be a really effective mindfulness technique to let go — without judging yourself.

I do this often when I catch myself thinking things I don’t want to.

It might be anything from a judgemental thought about someone I pass in the street to the beginning of a storytelling little thought about a person or situation.

Once I see it happening, I stop and say to myself (or even out loud if I’m alone) “judgment” or “storytelling”…or whatever it is that you notice going on.

Then I make a conscious decision to cut it off.

You don’t have to identify with the thoughts, chastise yourself over them, or indulge in them.

Instead, you try and build a new habit that puts a stop to thinking about this person.

It may take a little time, but eventually, with awareness, you should notice yourself thinking about them less and less.

2) Wear a rubber band around your wrist

During a terrible break-up years ago —one of the most painful times of my life — I was plagued with thoughts about my ex.

I needed to be healing, but my mind kept reopening the wounds.

That’s when I read about this technique to help bring you back into the moment and stop obsessive thinking in its tracks.

It’s super simple.

You wear a rubber band or even a hair tie around your wrist and every time you find yourself thinking about this person, you twang the band.

It sounds a bit silly but what it does is anchor you back to the present moment.

It really works for me and I pull this little tool out every time I find myself thinking about a guy that I really shouldn’t be thinking about (which is probably more often than I’d like to admit).

3) Keep busy

In the same way that thinking of this person might be distracting you from focusing on certain tasks, you can also use positive distractions in your favor.

Certain activities can help bring your attention elsewhere and break the cycle of compulsive thinking.

That’s because the mind can only really think about one thing at a time.

  • Try doing some exercise, whether it’s a sweaty workout to get the endorphins flowing or a gentle stroll in nature. The change of scenery is going to do you good.
  • Seek some company by hanging out with friends or family, or even just calling them to talk. Just 5 minutes spent chatting to someone else can really help to get us out of our own heads.
  • Get creative or spend some time on a hobby you enjoy. This is not only a fun distraction, but it can help to bring back some much-needed perspective. You will be reminded of how full your life already is, without needing to think of this person.

4) Meditate

Sometimes I feel like I’m always offering meditation as the solution to everything in life, but then again, it’s because it really is one of the most powerful mind control tools out there.

Stress management, focusing on the present, and reducing negative emotions are just a few of the many scientifically-backed benefits of meditating.

And these are exactly the things you’ll want to be doing right now to try and stop thinking about someone.

Think of meditation as a little time out for your racing thoughts — a bit like how parents might put a child on the “naughty step” until they calm down. It’s an effective way to clear the mind.

A lot of people say they struggle to stay still for meditation, but there are so many different types that you’re bound to find a style that suits you.

You can also check out this handy cheat sheet to meditation for plenty of tips.

Louise Jackson

My passion in life is communication in all its many forms. I enjoy nothing more than deep chats about life, love and the Universe. With a masters degree in Journalism, I’m a former BBC news reporter and newsreader. But around 8 years ago I swapped the studio for a life on the open road. Lisbon, Portugal is currently where I call home. My personal development articles have featured in Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, Thrive Global and more.

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