The Antidote to Ruminating!

One of the things I learned in my psychotherapy training is to be curious about my thoughts and emotions.  “How interesting” should be your new response to strong emotion and things that trigger you and elicit negative reactions.  

Putting that to work tonight at yoga, I discovered something amazing that I want to share with all my fellow ruminators out there.

“I’ll be back” – the Terminator – no wait, the RUMINATOR!

I have found that I am a ridiculous RUMINATOR!!  I stew… I obsess. I over-think and I over-analyze. I’m curious is this a female thing????  I hear a lot about men and women having very different brains and ways of thinking… Is this a woman brain thing???  Let me know in the comments or send me a message… I would be curious to see how many of you are also ruminators – and to compare how many men vs women claim to be…. 

I notice that while this can happen at anytime throughout the day, that I often really catch myself doing this at yoga when we get to the final savasana pose – (that’s the resting, do nothing, lay still and quiet pose).  It’s in those moments of silence that I am really aware of my so called monkey mind – the constant chatter… the ruminating!!!

In the past, I’ve dealt with this by catching myself and then basically telling myself to stop and to turn it off.  I avert my focus back to my breath and to my body.  I focus on one little bead of sweat as it travels down my arm and get really present to physical sensations.  While this works in the moment as a conscious choice to stop ruminating, it hasn’t really seemed to help me to ruminate less overall.  Awareness they say is the key to initiating change yet it is clear I needed to do something more than simply being aware, catching myself ruminating and stopping myself.  I needed to find something that could stop the ruminating from occurring in the first place.

It is my belief that feelings will keep returning despite our attempts to bury them, distract or numb ourselves from feeling them or any other avoidance strategy. We need to FEEL the feelings to get through them.  We can’t go over, under or around them.  So here’s what I discovered:  my ruminating comes from deeper underlying feelings that are not being dealt with.

Try this:

Next time you catch yourself ruminating (replaying imagined scenarios, conversations in your head or stewing about what you should have, could have done or what might happen or whatever it is from the past or imagined future that you are obsessing about),  I want you to catch yourself and instead of stopping it or distracting yourself from it, I want you to question what is the underlying feeling.  It is most likely fear or a feeling of being unloved, or both.  Even anger is usually indicative of the deeper feeling of fear. What are you afraid of?  Can you acknowledge that your rumination is coming from a deeper place of fear or of feeling unloved?  From a place of hurt?  

Acknowledge that you are afraid or hurt and feel the feelings associated with that. 

Have compassion for yourself.  Your inner dialogue might go something like this:

Wow.  This is me being afraid of big changes in my life.  That is understandable.  It’s ok and normal to feel this way.

Give yourself acceptance and non-judgement.  Do not label your emotions as bad. Do not condemn yourself.  Give yourself the gift of patience, compassion and self care.  Love yourself. Just as you would a child who was hurt or afraid. Have that gentleness with yourself. 

Do things that are good for you during times of challenge.  Give yourself a bath. A yoga class.  A nap.  Give yourself a hug. 

Next time you are obsessing, try this and put a stop to your ruminating once and for all.

With love,

Melissa 💙

2 Responses to “The Antidote to Ruminating!

  • Ruminating transgender person here!!! lol….thanks though xo

    • melissa
      1 year ago

      I actually thought of that yesterday! And contemplated removing the gender piece…

      Is there truth to gender components in the way we think and behave? …and are they truly a factor of physiology or the way we are socialized?

      What do you think? Thanks for commenting! Xoxoxoxo

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