First off, thank you for reading this blog. Do you know that in the last two weeks that it has launched, over 675 people have clicked their mouse and read away? Did you know that people in America, Canada, Spain, France, the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, Kenya, and Poland have clicked to read? Thank you, thank you so very much. Keep knowledge sharing and spread the words to anyone you know who need them.
Now- onto today’s subject- Rumination. Do you ever find yourself completely locked into a certain topic? Do you ever feel like you can’t stop thinking about the same thing over, and over, and over again? Like perhaps a time in your life when your boss told you that she was disappointed in your work or you said something you didn’t mean to say to your husband, and then you found yourself replaying the situation again and again in your head? And maybe when you finally felt like it was all under control, because you finally were able to concentrate on the presentation you have to give tomorrow in front of 50 people at work, one reminder of that same little topic pops back into your head and you’re back to spinning in the chaos again?
This, my friends, is called rumination. It is the focus and repetitive thinking about causes, factors, and consequences of negative emotional experiences (Nolen-Hoeksema, 1991). It is the continuous attention to upsetting and unpleasant details.
It is the giving up of space in your thoughts to allow negativity to take over and take control. Thus, I have renamed it rOOmination, and here’s why.
Think about your brain as a house. In your home, you get to decorate it, live in it, and use the space as you want. If you were to rent your house out or let people come stay in it, you would be pretty selective on who got to rest their heads on the pillows in your beds. You would hope that they would treat your house with respect. And you would background check the heck out of them if they were renters.
Now, why oh why would you allow this to be any different in your head? Your brain and your thoughts that flow from this brain of yours are the most important aspects of you. Your brain allows you to put thoughts into things that you want to. If you are allowing your brain to continue to rOOminate, you are giving it the power to decorate bright pink walls when you want gray, or put in a vintage brown-shag carpet on the ground when we clearly are not in the 70’s anymore.
You have the control. If you are aware. And we will talk mindfulness in blog posts soon to come. So pay attention to the rOOminating, grab your paintbrush (or thoughts) and decide what color (or thoughts) you want to live in. When you find yourself rOOminating, remember, you wouldn’t allow negative people in your special space, so you should be selective about the special space in your brain. Choose loving thoughts, choose progress, choose change. Paint your brain the color that you want, and enjoy the process.
Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (1991). The role of rumination in depressive disorders and mixed anxiety/depressive symptoms. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 109(3), 504-511. doi:10.1037//0021-843X.109.3.504