How do I stop thinking about a person whom I’m not supposed to be thinking about? What should I do if I’m in love with someone whom I currently cannot have?

Strive to reach your goals. Just remember people are not goals.

13-29-36-52-55 / 09

Hello Diner. I am sincerely sorry that you cannot realize a relationship with someone you are very attracted to. This advice is not going to work immediately. Also being as Fortune Cookies are non-violent, I cannot advocate forcibly breaking down the obstacles between you and the object of your affections. Nobody is worth hurt or jail.

It is hard not to think about this person because you have had a lot of practice. When your brain learns, the more times the brain reminds itself of that idea, and the more ingrained it becomes. It is like forcing yourself to forget how to ride a bicycle. But, it is possible. Here are some ways that may help:

1. Ending interaction. While it is true that distance will make you miss the person more, there will be a tipping point where not thinking of a person gets easier. If you continually interact with the person, you will fall prey to the mere exposure effect. The person will seem more likeable and attractive

2. Removing reminders. Same with any interaction, anything that triggers memory of the person will make it harder to stop thinking about that person. Put away mementos and pictures.

3. Using the Stop technique. This is popular among cognitive behavioral therapists. When you sense yourself going down the path of obsessing over someone, loudly yell “Stop!” (if socially convenient) and replace your thoughts with something unrelated, interesting, and positive. On the upside, if you do this in front of the person you like, he or she will end interaction for you.

4. Shifting perspective. When you emotionally fantasize about someone, your brain looks for all the things that support your idea that this person is ideal for you. Instead of focusing on the positive, shift your perspective to notice any of these: how the person doesn’t return your affections, things about their personality you really do not like, or how the situation of your being together simply can never be. With this idea in mind, look for things that support how it is very unlikely you will be together.

5. Adjusting focus and practicing mindfulness. Simple interesting or exciting distractions will help you stop fantasizing. Meditation is a great way to achieve refocus away from that person. When you meditate, pay attention to what you physically sense (sounds and smells of your surroundings).

6. Lobotomy. This should be done by a reputable lobotomist. Ask the lobotomist to focus on the emotional parts of your brain. Hint: this is very deep inside your head, and this Fortune Cookie does NOT recommend it, but for completeness, here it is.

So there you have it, Diner: remove interactions or reminders and refocus your attention. This will seem daunting–almost impossible to do–however, your asking me this question tells me you are looking to move on. Try any of these suggestions to see if they work. Remember that you already started this journey to feel better. All this cannot happen without your willingness to stop being stuck in yearning. Be honest with yourself when you think you are ready. If you don’t want to let go, you simply won’t let go. Good luck.