How to stop thinking about an elephant?

My particular situation: I’m trying to move on from a guy who (according to some very perceptive minds here, as well as his actions) “just isn’t into” me. I’ve gone on a few dates, set up an online dating profile, written self-empowering phrases on my bathroom mirror, cleaned my house, reconnected with old friends, focused on myself (whatever that means)…and he’s still on my mind.

Obviously I’m not contacting him or online-stalking him (unfriended him so I couldn’t) but in a few days I’ll be hanging out with some mutual friends for the first time since the blow-up and I keep finding myself imagining us meeting up and hitting it off again, and…

I really don’t like who I become when I’m thinking about him. I become crazy and obsessive and this hasn’t happened with anyone since high school, and so it’d be better for my mental health if I could just get him off my mind. It feels as though I’m telling myself, “Don’t think about the elephant,” though, and of course nothing good ever comes of that.

Have you had any experience with elephants, whether they be relationships or money or whatever? How did you deal with it?

It’s a little like when you have a chipped tooth, and your tongue just insists on going back and exploring it, over and over again. You know it’s pointless, but how do you tell that to your tongue?

I’ve found, alas, that the only cure is simple exhaustion. Let your tongue get bored with it.

Yes, your mind will keep coming back, over and over, to the thoughts you don’t want to be thinking. All you can do is sigh philosophically, wait a bit, ask your mind, “Satisfied? Can we move on now?” And, for ten minutes, do or think something else. Then the thought comes back again, and the cycle repeats.

Not fun. But, in time, the cycle lengthens. From ten minutes to fifteen, to twenty…

I know of no other cure save exhaustion. When your mind is tired of it, it is easier to move on.

For me, it’s that there’s something I still want from the situation. But there is more than one way to get what you want. I try to work out exactly what it is I want, and then find a way I can get it. Like, maybe to feel attractive, or maybe he seemed exciting and I need more adventure. Could be anything. It takes some self examination to work it out.
Whatever draws you to this person, he is not the only source of it.

I am not remotely obsessive by nature, so I don’t really have any firsthand experience to offer. However, the general wisdom seems to be that trying not to think of something is one of the surest ways to keep it on your mind. Trying to think of other things also doesn’t seem to be helping you.

Perhaps you could try not thinking of something else? Maybe a pet peeve, or a minor task you’ve left undone, or any little thing that bugs you just a bit. How dirty your windows are on the outside, or a funny noise your car makes, or some such thing. Think about this thing for a bit, enough to get just a little annoyed or worried, then try to put it out of your mind. Maybe your mind will start to fixate on that for a little while instead, providing a little time for the raw edges to wear down. When time has done its work, fix whatever you chose–wash the windows, take the car in for a checkup, or whatever, so you can stop obsessing over that.