ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Stop Ruminating

Updated on August 29, 2011

Stop Mindless, Horrible Rumination Now and Relax Your Mind for More Important and Productive Thoughts

Circular thinking, or rumination, is that awful, mental loop we all get stuck on from time-to-time that repeatedly replays situations, conversations, and things from our pasts we wish were different.

For some people, this circular thinking can be severe, and for others, minor. However, ruminating doesn't help, and often hurts. Here are some tricks for ending the vicious, rumination cycle.

Methods to Stop Ruminating

There are several ways to stop ruminative thinking:

1.) Intellectually

2.) With the STOP Method

3.) With Kindness

type=text
type=text

1.) Intellectually Sort It Out

Our rational minds know rumination isn't healthy. One way to decrease rumination, for those analytically inclined, is to consciously and intellectually argue with yourself about why going round and round is not a beneficial idea.

As an example:

If your mind says, "God, you're so stupid. I can't believe you said that."

You can analytically argue that, while you may have said something you would like to change, you aren't stupid and this one example doesn't make you stupid. You can tell yourself that you're ruminating about a situation you cannot change and that it won't do you any good. You can also make a list of the pros and cons of your line of thinking.

You can also tell yourself that next time a similar situation occurs, you will handle it a different way. By focusing on the future, you take some of the power away from ruminating about the past.

2.) The STOP Method

When you catch yourself ruminating, internally (or externally if it is viable to do so) tell yourself firmly and loudly to "Stop!"

This technique disrupts the mind from its circular thinking and clears the path for a more positive line of thought.

Some people also find it beneficial to hum a few lines of a favorite song, repeat a rhyme, count or do multiplication tables, or make some sort of list -- things you want to do, groceries, work projects, etc.

The idea is to sufficiently distract your mind so it can more adeptly turn towards less stressful and productive thinking. You may have to repeat the STOP multiple times before the brain is reliably trained on another task. It just takes patience at first and sticking with the technique.

type=text
type=text

3.) Stop Rumination with Kindness

This is my favorite method.

If you have a habit of ruminating, you are probably a perfectionist and already hard on yourself. By treating yourself with kindness, you send two messages to your brain -- one is that you are worth receiving kindness and the other is that rumination isn't necessary or beneficial.

One reason we ruminate is because our mind is looking for a way to make the past different than it is. With practice, I got in the habit of saying to myself, "Thank you for looking for a different outcome for this. Unfortunately, it's already happened, and there isn't anything I can do about it, but thank you for trying to take care of me."

I find this calms my mind and alleviates some of the pain of whatever I'm ruminating about. It's simple, nice, nonabrasive, and usually, it works!

The Ruminating Brain

Rumination is one of the brain's way of trying to find a different outcome to situations that left you feeling less-than-positive. It's your brain trying to take care of you, albeit in an unhelpful and negative way.

If you understand why rumination happens and what it is designed to do, it can be easier to be gentle with yourself and let it go.

This negative pattern of thinking can have extreme consequences on your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. By using one of these techniques to stop the ruminative pattern, you free your brain up for more productive and life-enhancing tasks.

Free yourself from rumination now.

If you are interested in Spirituality and Self help, please visit my Spirituality and Self Help blog.

Have Tips or Tricks to Add?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      sara-bloom-581 3 years ago

      Being nice to myself is a good idea because I am really hard on myself all the time. It comes from my immediate family during childhood. I'm only now realizing that. They were really rude and unkind to me but I shouldn't still be hearing them in my thoughts calling me stupid now that I'm 61. I just recently remembered how my dad used to abandon me in the car and go drinking at the bar. I used to hide in the space under the dashboard so no one would see me to kidnap me. He once caught me doing that and read me the riot act for being a weird kid hiding like that. My mom used to yell and curse so much I'd imagine using something like a wooden clog to knock her out for a while. My brother was physically abusive to me and when he married he was the same with his wife who in turn was verbally abusive to me. Family can really tie one's psyche in a knot, can't they. Wound up marrying a man who had no respect for me either and validated the stuff I felt from my family. He had a way of sucking his teeth to show his disapproval, I hated that. He'd come in the door after work yelling at me and the kids. Of course I'd go right back at him in defense of the kids. Once told him if he didn't quit doing that, he might be met with a baseball bat one day. What kind of jerk yells like that? He has passed on now. I will try being kind to myself the next time I start ruminating which will probably be an hour or two from now. God I'm so glad to be alone and not under the thumb of those awful people anymore. But the world is full of the same which is discouraging.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: that sums up everything im feeling as well, the only person out side of my family i truly trusted stabbed me in the back, the so called friends i had are only friends when times are good, they are nowhere to be seen when i need them, every thing i knew about my life turns out to be a lie and whilst i don't plan on killing myself i just don't want to be here...wish i could just lie down n go to sleep and never wake up again

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      i dislike how so many people are choosing to make money off of suicide. i believe if someone truly needs help, they shouldn't need to pay for it. especially teenagers who have no money or source of income. they can't exactly ask their parents to buy them anti-suicidal aids without raising some red flags.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      What if you've come to the conclusion that suicide is the only way to escape a life of pain? I don't feel worthless or stupid, I'm just sooo exhausted by people continually dumping on me.

      People I thought would never betray me have, my husband, my sister, my son. Life as I knew it never really existed. Life as it actually is, isn't worth wasting my time and energy on anymore.

      So, I'd rather be dead, than to have to live this life any longer knowing people you love can be so horribly selfish just to satisfy their own lusts or need for acceptance. If my own family can do this, think what people who don't "love" me are capable of doing. I don't want to find out!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I am so stubborn that i can rarely convince myself to do any of these things, and when i feel like i want to die, i can't even remember that there are ways to cope with my negative thoughts other than self medicating or hurting myself. i can't do it... i'm pitted against myself

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I am so stubborn that i can rarely convince myself to do any of these things, and when i feel like i want to die, i can't even remember that there are ways to cope with my negative thoughts other than self medicating or hurting myself. i can't do it... i'm pitted against myself

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thank You, I have been using the STOP method at times and it does work- even if its only for a few minutes. Its major past 'BAD DECISIONS' , that keep haunting me on a daily basis and for over 12+ years they are there every day, but I also realize that part of those choices I made where because of the Misleadings of people high up in the stock market and also ceos lying to people-so I must forgive myself and use the STOP method when Negativity comes into play.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I do that all the time and just the thought of complementing myself made me cry.... but I will try one of the other ones

    • InquisitiveOne LM profile image
      Author

      InquisitiveOne LM 6 years ago

      @VoodooRULEs: Thank you. I think most people try to analyze their way out of negative looping thoughts. Having other options to choose from gives a chance of higher success and a happier life.

    • profile image

      VoodooRULEs 6 years ago

      This is a useful bit of knowledge... Thank you! I suppose I have been using the analytical method for years without realizing it.

    • InquisitiveOne LM profile image
      Author

      InquisitiveOne LM 6 years ago

      @TryNerdy: Thank you for your comment.

    • profile image

      TryNerdy 6 years ago

      Really unique lens!

    • InquisitiveOne LM profile image
      Author

      InquisitiveOne LM 6 years ago

      @ecogranny: Greetings Grace! You are right indeed. This is the least developed so far of the lenses and definitely can use some more tips in it. I agree that diet is so important -- that's another lens! Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I look forward to visiting your lenses.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Meditation, sleep, exercise, housework (Yes!) and/or eating the freshest, crunchiest, most delicious whole foods I can find in the moment are all techniques I use to stop a negative thought pattern. These help tremendously with writers' block too. Focusing on the breath, as you noted in another of your lenses, is one of the simplest things anyone can do to calm the mind, body and spirit.