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:
2.) With the STOP Method
3.) With Kindness
Stop Rumination and Improve Your Life
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.
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.
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