Rumination: Are Your Thoughts Stuck On Repeat?

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rumination

Has your mind ever been stuck on one thought and repeated it over and over again? That’s exactly what rumination is, the process of repetitively going over a thought, or a string of thoughts, without completion. A habit of rumination can be very dangerous for your mental health, because it can make you feel isolated and that can result in you pushing people away. 

What do these thoughts look like? The most common thoughts people ruminate over revolve around dwelling on past mistakes, replaying conversations and situations in your head, and constantly thinking about your weaknesses and flaws, to a point where it becomes unhealthy. 

Rumination often impairs our ability to think straight, because in this process, we let the emotional side of our brain take over. These thoughts prevent us from coming to a conclusion and that stops us from moving forward with clearer thoughts and emotions. The problem is that when our brains enter a vigorous thinking mode, we feel that we have a sense of control over our thoughts, which may not always be the case. It is very easy for our minds to wander and enter the realm of counterproductive thoughts that don’t help us after a certain point. 

These thoughts aren’t unfamiliar to us, because ruminating is human nature. They come naturally to us when we have low self-worth and tend to blame ourselves constantly. It can also be due to depression or anxiety, because the effect of these thoughts is amplified sometimes. It also happens when we build an urge to solve problems repeatedly, because then we keep going over the problem trying to look for a solution, and most times, it is futile. 

How can you address these thoughts? It is important to learn to acknowledge and recognize your thoughts, because once you do that, you will be able to question the thoughts that come into your mind, and that helps in understanding whether or not the thought is productive. 

Try replacing the ‘why’ with ‘how’ or ‘what’. For example, if thoughts like, “Why did I do that?” or “Why am I like this?” keep repeating themselves, try replacing them with questions like, “What can I do about it?” or “How can I do things differently next time?”. By doing so, you realize that the actions that have already been done, cannot be reversed or changed, and the acceptance of the fact that sometimes things aren’t in your control, and that is okay.

One of the most important things to practice while ruminating is to stop assuming that you have the answers to everything. It is possible that you don’t have all sides to the story, and you may not know everything. Overthinking without all the answers can be dangerous to your mental health so it is okay to give yourself the benefit of the doubt sometimes. 

You can also engage yourself in activities that will keep your mind and body active, which will help in filtering the thoughts that come to your mind. You have to remember that you can’t put too much pressure on yourself and that addressing these thoughts properly will take time.

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