CLB 022: How to Stop Ruminating and Gain Meaning from Painful Memories

how to stop ruminating

Ever wonder how to stop ruminating?

Have you ever gotten stuck thinking about a past trauma or negative event, a problem or really any kind of setback… over and over again… you just can’t stop thinking about it… like a hamster running in a hamster wheel in his cage your thoughts just seem to run around and around and around…?

Yeah, that’s called rumination. And the results of a massive study just came out that show rumination – dwelling on the negative – may be the best predictor of depression and anxiety, as well as determining the level of stress people experience.

So in today’s episode we’re going to discuss the results of this study, what the results mean to you, plus we’re going to beyond the results and I’m going to teach you how you can turn rumination in to something to your advantage, a technique you can use to actually lessen anxiety and improve your mood.

Key Points Re: How to Stop Ruminating

  • 32 827 people from 127 different countries took part in this online stress test. Here is a link to the study:
  • Results of the test showed that people who did not ruminate on their difficulties had significantly lower levels of depression and anxiety, even if they had experienced negative events in their lives.
  • “Negative” events didn’t cause the depression and anxiety themselves… it was the rumination of these events and people blaming themselves for these events that led to depression and anxiety.
  • As you ruminate, you deepen the groves in your brain, intensifying levels of depression and anxiety. Plus, your problem usually remains unresolved and may even become worse due to the fact that you’re probably not acting on it since all your energy is focused on ruminating.
  • So the key question is then, how can we reflect on our past experiences and gain insights and meaning from them, without getting caught up in the hamster wheel of rumination?
  • When people are able to get distance from their painful memory – when they are able to de-fuse from it – and observe it from a safe place, from a place of pure awareness, it results in significantly less emotional pain, less stress and people are even able to gain better understanding and meaning from their painful experiences.
  • And perhaps most importantly, use de-fusion and pure awareness prevents you from falling into the trap of rumination which we know of course leads only to worsening depression and anxiety.

Episode Transcript

You can download the transcript of this episode by clicking here.

Home Play

Do this the next time you catch yourself ruminating or you can practice it right now by recalling a past experience or memory…

Zoom out until you see yourself within the scene, then zoom out even further so you can see the scene unfold as if you were a stranger who happened to pass by…

Allow the experience or memory to play out in your mind while you maintain that third person, distant perspective.

And use that third person, de-fused, pure awareness perspective whenever you find yourself reflecting on that experience.

Notice if you feel differently looking at things from this perspective. Do you see the event in a different way?

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