Rumination can become a highly destructive behaviour, and unfortunately most of us are guilty of doing it from time to time. This article will outline the damaging nature of rumination has, and provide you with a power strategy to remove it's negative effects.
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What is rumination?
Rumination is a specific thinking style that is characterised by overly thinking about particular thoughts and feelings.
It often involves obsessing over perceived problems, by running events over and over in our mind. People that ruminate have problems moving past their persistent thoughts causing their behaviour to stagnate in the realm of inaction.
All of us at some time have ruminated over particular issues in life. Often these problems are so miniscule but yet have a knack of monopolising our internal thought processes. The more we ruminate the greater the problem becomes, and consequently we dig ourselves deeper into becoming embroiled and consumed by our distracting thoughts.
The brain is a little like a giant lump of plasticine that over time becomes moulded by our thoughts. When rumination occurs the moulding process is activated, shaping your brain around these persistent thoughts. The more intense and regular rumination is, the stronger the mould becomes. If this occurs the brain is then more likely to habituate these obsessive thinking styles, making them arrive automatically in the conscious stream of thought.
I have produced a small chart below to summarise the damaging and cyclical nature of rumination:
Negative obsessive thoughts→ Negative internal feelings (anxiety/stress/anger/etc)
→ Cycles back
The internal feelings feed and amplify these obsessive thoughts, further intensifying your internal negative feelings.
The best remedy to remove the addictive and obsessive nature of rumination is to take action.
By redirecting focus away from negative internal thoughts and towards the motor responses of physical action the self-perpetuating cycle of rumination can be broken.
The longer rumination continues the harder it becomes to break the cycle, which is why engaging in external activities as soon as possible is advised.
As I discussed extensive periods of rumination create a mental mould around these persisting thoughts making it easier for the brain to access them. At this stage it is likely that ruminating will become a pre-programmed habit.