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Mindfulness

5 Reasons Why Ruminating Isn’t Good And How To Stop It Now

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Ruminating vs Reminiscing. Read on to find out the difference between the two,  5 reasons why reminiscing isn’t good for you, and how to stop doing it now! Did you know that thinking over and over again about things that happened sometimes in the past has a name? No, it’s not overthinking… it’s called ruminating. I’m definitely a ruminator. Find out if you’re one, too, and how to control this excessive thinking about the past, so that you can enjoy better the present life. 

Have you ever heard of a Social Hangover? Read this post to find out what it is and what to do to avoid getting one 😊

Reminiscing vs. Ruminating​

We are all more or less familiar with the act of reminiscing: It’s when you think or write or talk about something from the past, most of the time in a very positive way. I’m currently reminiscing about the times when it was easy to roam through Europe, freely, across borders with no restrictions whatsoever. No red, orange, or green countries. So, reminiscing is all in all a good thing. To reminisce; If you reminisce about something from your past, you write or talk about it, often with pleasure. (taken from the Collins Dictionary)

Reminiscing is nice but it has an evil counterpart

As pleasant as this reminiscing is, thinking about happy memories and things that have happened in our past, it has a bad little brother, called ruminating. To ruminate; If you ruminate on something, you think about it very carefully. (taken from the Collins Dictionary)
Have you heard of this word? It’s quite new to me, to be honest. The word is new. the process that is behind this word not so much. Ruminating is thinking about something very carefully. Most of the time you think about something you did or said in a past situation. You turn it over in your mind, you overthink it so much, that you can’t fall asleep at night. Right. It’s exactly what you (or your brain) are doing when you are about to fall asleep at night and this very particular situation comes into your mind, where you (think you) embarrassed yourself in front of others.
Like that time you made a fool out of yourself at the cash register in the supermarket, because you didn’t understand that the contactless function with your card didn’t work and the cashier asked you “you have to put the pin code” and you answered “No, thank you” because you were prepared for him to ask whether you wanted a bag or not (yes, this happened. To me. And guess what, I ruminated about it for ages. But was also leaving the supermarket, while cracking up 🤭 )

Are you feeling anxious? Or stressed out? Read this post about a technique to help with anxiety and stress 😊

Ruminating is bad for you

We all ruminate. Some of us give in more to the rumination, others are less bothered by it. However, ruminating can negatively affect you for several reasons. Let’s have a closer look at those:
  1. It is keeping you from enjoying the present. The past already happened, thinking so much about it won’t change it.
  2. You’re being excessively critical towards yourself. We usually are. Most probably the other(s) didn’t even realize the thing you’re obsessing about. And if they did, they’ve most probably already forgotten about it.
  3. When you’re ruminating you’re constantly thinking only about your negative sides, at the things that are wrong with you. Unfortunately, this leaves no or very little mental capacity for you to see the wonderful and capable person you are.
  4. Ruminating makes you feel more anxious and stressed. As if times like these weren’t already stressful enough, rumination certainly doesn’t help with our general well-being.
  5. Ruminating is like there is a little voice inside our head, always ready to let you know about your (past) failures and embarrassments. this is certainly not helping with our self-esteem.
Now, what can you do to get over this whole ruminating thing? Or at least limit it. Here are 4 suggestions to make things easier:
  • First, it is important to become aware of the process. when you start spiraling, without being too harsh to yourself, just acknowledge “ok, I’m ruminating”. Without any kind of judgment towards yourself. Try that. 
Also, remember that you are not your thoughts. Thoughts are like clouds that come and go, just traveling through the depths of your synapses. 
  • Second, try to keep in mind what was already said above, about other people not caring all that much about what we do. At least not as much as we give them credit for.
  • Another way to stop the process of ruminating about the past is pushing the imaginary “pause-button” on the circling thoughts. And then think about something else. Distract yourself with something pleasant. That can be anything from listening to music, talking to a friend, going for a walk or a bike ride. This “pause-button” can also be you telling yourself STOP, and continue doing something else 😁
  • And last but not least, the good old reality check. Share your thought, the one that has been roaming around your head like cray-cray with someone who you trust. And ask them for their (more objective than yours) opinion and input. This should give you some perspective.
If you want to read more about Reminiscing and Ruminating, and in general find out ways on how to “Succeed by seeing yourself clearly” check out this book written by Dr. Tasha Eurich. It has a ton of tips on how to be more self-aware. It really helped me understand a couple of things about me and what to do (or try to do 🤭) to become a better version of myself. A more aware version of the internal processes going on in my overthinker brain. It might help you, too!

What are the things you are ruminating about? And what do you do to stop it?

Comment below or shoot me an email at melanie@joyfullymel.com ✨

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