What if?… Fuel For Rumination

ruminationOne of my favorite saying is… “If you are depressed, you live in the past, if you are anxious, you live in the future, if you are ok, you live in the present”.

True as this statement is, it does not start to describe the processes that drive the disorders mentioned. However, when I deal with clients who suffer from depression and anxiety. Rumination is a key element of their thinking. Rumination of course, takes you out of the present moment and leaves the mind vulnerable to irrational thinking.

When we ruminate, we are in effect asking our mind to solve problems, something it will gladly do. This is in contrast to reflection where we stay in the present moment to analyze and learn. One of the drivers of rumination (among others) is the “what if” question. “What if this or that happens?”, “What if she or he leaves me?”, “What if I do this or that?”, or “What if I had done this or that?”.

Once this type of thinking process starts, rumination is inevitable and can last for hours, even days. It can ruin moods, start depression, fuel anxiety and sabotage plans made. It is also extremely hard to counter and can become habitual. With some, once triggered, it can become an automatic response to issues that might be easily solved by staying “present”.

I have found that two methods really help with the issue. They are difficult to practice but once mastered bring high reward. Once is conscious thinking, this means learning to recognize when rumination is starting and “dragging” yourself back into the present moment. This can be done by being aware of what is around you, in that very moment using senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste. Some will use items such as raisins or chocolate to help this.

The other is a classic CBT tool known as a thought or mood diary where thoughts and feelings can be logged and assessed. Over time, this can help to identify triggers that can foster rumination.

Dr. Nicholas Jenner is a counseling psychologist in private practice working with individuals, couples, groups and companies with a speciality in CBT techniques. Apart from seeing clients face-to-face, Dr. Jenner also runs a thriving online therapy business bringing help to those who find taking therapy online as convenient and tailored for their needs. More Details HERE

  3 comments for “What if?… Fuel For Rumination

  1. August 29, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    Yes, I think I do that. Explains a lot! Ken.


  2. August 30, 2016 at 6:20 am

    What do you think of mindful meditation as a brain training exercise to help reduce rumination?


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