To start off, you have to know what ruminating actually is. Ruminating, in the context of this post, is typically defined as always (or compulsively) thinking about ones negatives and all the bad things in there life. It effects those who think about these negative things over and over, day after day.
It can be quite draining, mostly mentally. Although, you could also become physically drained if your mind is always ruminating about negative aspects of your life, as it really isn’t good for your health at all.
For those that can relate to the above, and realize that they do ruminate, then the following 21 tips will definitely help you with stopping, or at least slowly decreasing your negative, ruminating, thoughts. Also, you don’t have to implement all of these tips as they are subjective, and won’t all apply to everyone. But, hopefully you can find great use of at least a few and start implementing them into your life.
So, lets just jump into the list, shall we?
Wait! One last note (I promise this is it), these tips are in no specific order. So number one is no greater than the next, and so on. Okay sorry, now we can really start!
1. Become aware that you are ruminating
If you are never aware of it, you will never be able to fix it! So, now that you know what ruminating is you should be able to identify if you ruminate or not.
2. Analyze what you ruminate about
What exactly is your ruminative thinking about? Find out what exactly it is, this way you will know exactly what you need to improve on in your life so it will get off of your mind.
Remember, removing your compulsive thoughts is just one part of the fix to your issue, the other is fixing what you keep thinking of so it will fully go away (with time of course).
3. Accept your past
Accept it, your past is past you. You can’t go back in time (unless you know how, then you should email me). Seriously though, accept whatever you have gone through and just take it as a learning experience.
Lets take a look at this famous quote said by many (rather depressive) people: “History repeats itself.” Okay, maybe that isn’t an exact quote, but I’ve heard people say it before to me. Don’t believe this, as it doesn’t have to take effect in your life. The only way it repeats itself is if you repeat what you’ve done in your past that was wrong. So don’t re-live your past mistakes, and avoid them at all costs.
4. Schedule ruminating time
That’s right, pencil some time into your schedule to sit down and think! Now, this one is not recommended for everyone, it’s more for the ones who need more time than others to move on from something.
This should not be a permanent step and should be slowly reduced over time, until you no longer need a rumination session in your life.
Remember: The goal is to get rid of your compulsive thoughts completely, minimizing and controlling them is just a way to slowly get better.
5. Think the opposite of your thoughts
Let me explain what exactly what I mean by this one.
Obviously don’t think the opposite of everything, but only with your negative rumination. Let me give a few examples on how this step should work:
- If you always think about the past and mistakes, try to think about your future and not to repeat your mistakes.
- If you always think about bad events that may of happened to you, try to think of all the good stuff (and the good to come in your future)
- If you are always scared of something and always worry about it, try to think about overcoming that fear and how great and free you will feel once you are no longer afraid of said fear
These examples may or may not related exactly to your ruminating thoughts, but hopefully you get the point.
When you catch yourself thinking about what is bothering you, try to think of the ‘positive opposite.’ Whatever that may be, try to integrate the positive and happy opposite thoughts with the sad or negative thoughts you face, and slowly your compulsive negativity will slowly turn to ruminating positivity (which is way better, trust me).
6. Write it down
Getting your thoughts on paper will seemingly lift such a huge weight off your shoulder. By writing it down, it’s like getting all your thoughts out there and in the open.
By doing this, you will no longer (or much less so) feel trapped by your thoughts. Give it a go, it doesn’t take a lot to write down what is bothering you.
Actually on top of that, go ahead and write down what you wish to be thinking about instead. This should consist of positivity and optimistic thoughts for your future, and life in general.
7. “What if..” needs to stop
All of your “what if’s” need to stop, right now. Stop asking yourself:
- What if I did this instead?
- What if I had done this?
- What if I just did something different?
It does not matter anymore, all of these questions have one thing in common; past tense. You can’t go back and change it, you can only realize and accept that something went wrong, learn from it, and try not to repeat it in your future.
8. Consider a therapist
Therapy, it sounds even more depressing and I get it. But like with anything, you can’t knock it ’till you try it.
This is another one of those things that might not work for everyone, but you need to at least go in for one session and give it a go. You don’t even have to say what exactly you are ruminating about, but just the fact that you are ruminating about negative things.
From there, the therapist will definitively be able to help. Remember, you must want help for this one to work as well as know what you want to change into (and no, I don’t mean clothes).
9. Be okay with it – but not too okay
Accept the fact that you are facing troubles. You need to be okay with it enough so you are not ashamed of it, and realize that emotions and compulsive thoughts can be normal throughout our lives. If you are ashamed about it (and don’t accept that it is normal), you will just want to run and hide from it, and that will get you no where.
Although, don’t be too accepting of it as this will keep you in the mindset that it’s okay to have negative rumination in your life. Don’t be ashamed, but don’t accept that there is no hope in changing your ways of thinking. It is possible to change, but you need to be open about it, and only then will you be able to start working on it (either alone, or with the help of others).
10. Uncertainty will always be there
We can never tell what will happen in the future. Not a minute from now, not a year, not ever. Don’t worry about what might happen later on in your life, live in the now.
This is another acceptance step, you need to accept you aren’t a genie and no one in the world can tell you the events of the future. It is full of anything you wish for it to be, just be sure to write your future on your own terms and it will all work out.
11. Keep yourself happy
Try to keep yourself in a happy state, at all times. Do you feel sadness starting to overcome you? Go do something you enjoy that will take your mind off of it and will put you into a happy and positive mood.
This will be different for everyone, some people will go to the gym, others will go for a walk, others will go to there favorite hobby. It doesn’t matter what the activity is, as long as you love what you are doing it will help you stay upbeat and happy.
Also, you don’t have to only do things that make you happy when you feel sadness or any negativity coming on to you. Keeping your mind happy all of the time never hurts, so try to keep it a ongoing thing.
12. Maintain mindfulness, not ‘pastfullness’
Staying mindful will help keep you on the right track to focusing on the present, and the future. Being mindful at every point of your day will help keep your mind concentrated on the now, and what you are experiencing in every single moment of your life.
Don’t maintain your ‘pastfullness’ state of mind, instead, concentrate on being mindful every single day.
By the way, do you like my new word, ‘pastfullness?’ 🙂
13. Don’t expect to get lucky
Considering this is #13, I had to do something with luck.
What this step means is simple, don’t expect some magical fixture to come into your life and solve all of your issues. You need to work on yourself everyday and don’t expect that someday (who knows when) that it will all just fall into place.
You need to fall into place yourself, and the only way that happens is if you place yourself to fall where you belong. Whoa, that was a little deep.
14. Restrict alone time
Of course, we all need alone time. I’m not saying be with people 24/7, 365. What I am saying is, maybe you aren’t going out enough, or spending enough time with the people in your life.
Make it a goal to spend more time, whether it be an extra weekly get together with family and / or friends, or an everyday phone call with people who are close to you.
Talking and sharing ideas with others will help you too, you may even find someone with the same struggles and you will be able to share what tactics have worked for each other.
15. Ever try meditation?
Meditation can do some serious magic, if you are open minded about it.
For those who haven’t tried meditation before and have no idea where to start, I highly recommend an app called Headspace. This app does wonders, especially for those who are just starting out.
Meditating (with practice of course) will allow you to escape your mind, but more importantly, escape those negative ruminating thoughts you are having. By learning to stop all your thoughts and just relax, will greatly help in your efforts to stopping your rumination.
16. Say you are sorry
If you feel like you’ve done something, anything, wrong in your life and you keep obsessing over it still, say sorry to yourself.
That’s right, say you’re sorry! But like we learned since we were little, it needs to be sincere. You need to forgive yourself for anything you think you’ve done wrong in your past, and accept it. Don’t hold it against yourself anymore, don’t blame yourself, and don’t let it run your life anymore.
Say your sorry to yourself (literally or not), mean and own it completely, and from there you will have lifted so much weight from your thoughts. Forgive yourself, now forgive others.
17. Full yourself with forgiveness
No matter how bad someone may of hurt you or did you wrong, you should try to forgive them. But don’t forgive them for that persons own satisfaction, do it for yourself.
By doing this, you let go of any frustration or anger you hold towards someone else, and you finally free yourself from that persons actions. Keeping a grudge your entire life will just keep those bad and negative events with you, and continue to drag you down.
Forgive them (however you wish to do so is up to you), and then they will fully be freed from your life, and most importantly, your mind.
18. “Serve first, seek second”
Try to go out and help, either friends, family, or even someone online with the the same (or similar) issues you are facing. You can kind of think of it as practice, and it will seriously help you out a lot (and the person of choice hopefully).
Of course you don’t want to just ‘experiment’ with tactics and tell people information that isn’t true. What you want to do is try to think of ways that you might want help, and give them that advice.
Once you seem them to start improving, you will have sort of ‘first hand experience’ on the subject, and then be able to implement the same tactics and techniques they used to get over the same obstacle.
19. Focus on breathing
Some times will be worse then others. Some points you will overthink so much and you won’t seemingly be able to escape it.
This typically happens when you are in an environment that you can’t escape from immediately, like work for example. While you are at work and catch your mind drifting and overthinking everything, just pause and take some deep breathes.
Here is an amazing little gif you can use to match your deep breathing with. It is really simple, and a great way to have steady and consistent deep breathes. Hopefully it comes of use, even I use it from time to time!
20. Have a disorder?
Have you considered you might have ADD or ADHD, or how about OCD, or just simply depression? This could be impacting your life in a huge way, and you don’t even realize it and may even be confusing it with compulsive rumination instead of a disorder.
If you suspect you may have one the above (or more), try to go see what a doctor thinks. Look up the symptoms online for such disorders, and if you have similar symptoms then you might be suffering from one or the other.
Let me just say this, if you suffer from one of these disorders, it is going to be a little bit harder these ruminating thoughts you have. With OCD rumination, it is compulsive and you it is really hard to suppress it, without medical advice anyways.
For ADHD and ADD rumination, I advise you to seek some professional advice for that as well. From there, it will be much more clear on where and how to go from there on improving your thought processes.
As for depressive rumination (if you suffer from this), you should seek out what exactly you are depressed about, and work on it. A lot of the times this will be hard, but maybe some professional advice will be of great use for you.
If you don’t suffer from one of these things then this step is rather useless for you. But hopefully it helps a few people find out if they even do suffer from a ‘official’ disorder or not.
21. Create a meaningful life
A lot of us like to dwell and overthink on the past as we don’t see any hope in our future. This happens because we loose sight in our meaning, and just find it easier to ruminate on past experiences.
This is a huge step in overcoming this compulsive way of thinking, and creating a fulfilled life doesn’t come instantly. In fact, it takes an entire lifetime. But, once we see that we are creating a meaningful life that we want to live, that is the point in which your life will change forever.
Once you create meaning, and realize it, there is no going back. Because as soon as you seemingly loose track of your meaning again, you will of known what it was like, and you’ll crave to have it back. So you will always strive for that feeling again for the rest of your life.
There it is, 21 steps on stopping, suppressing, and overcoming your ruminating thoughts. Be sure to take into account what works, and what doesn’t, for yourself personally. Not everything in this list will be for everyone, but there will be some things in the list for everyone.
If you have any of your own tips that aren’t in the above list, or want to add on to one, I’d love to hear them! It helps us all out, me and all the other fellow readers, so please share your experiences down in the comments for us all to read.