Chewing the cud?


Do you ruminate?  Do you run through things over and over in your mind?  Are you overthinking everything?

Wouldn’t it be better to be able to let things go, relax, switch your mind off?

It’s really stressful when our brain gets into a habit of rumination, or over analysis.  It can make us feel more stressed, when inadvertently all we are trying to do really is sort things out in our minds, try to understand them better, innocently believing that we are doing ourselves some good and we will reach an outcome.  Sadly this is usually not true.

The definition of Ruminate is:

  1. to think deeply about something
  2. to chew the cud

(Remember that next time you find yourself in a spin of thought!  You’re like a cow chewing your thoughts and ideas over and over again, through your four different stomachs!)

Isn’t it interesting that it’s only usually the negative things in our lives that get this much attention?  Consider that – the last time you were ‘chewing the cud’ what was it your mind was so focused on?  Was it how wonderful your life is and how lucky you are to be alive?!  I think not!

We humans are hard wired for negativity – isn’t that sad?  Negative events have a greater impact on our brains – it’s called the negativity bias.  That’s right – what you’re doing to yourself is completely normal!  We are more likely to believe negative feedback about ourselves than positive or even interpret the positive negatively!  And although joy is felt from positive experiences, we will cling onto the negative experiences more tightly.

Of course there is great learning that can come from negative events, whereas positive ones do not usually drive our development.  The negativity bias comes from early human life: paying attention to potential danger and threats was literally a life or death matter!

Our brains are using the negative information to try to keep us safe and alive on the planet.

BUT: is that thing you’re going over and over in your mind something that can potentially kill you??

I suggest the answer to this is no*.

Cognitively, we can challenge these thoughts when we notice them, and step in:

  • Stop dwelling on the past
  • Don’t spend hours guessing about the future
  • Focus on what you are grateful for in your life
  • Stop should-ing all over yourself(!)
  • Go for a walk
  • Read something that requires your concentration – get lost in a book

Ultimately stop paying attention to thoughts that you have no business engaging with.

Sometimes though as much as we feel we have tried to let go of the thoughts, they keep coming back – pesky little blighters!

Our subconscious mind (which is actually about 95% of our brain activity by the way) can work against us.  Remember it is this which is trying to keep us safe and alive on the planet, and if you are a client of mine, you will know that this part of your brain cares not for your happiness and success!  It will do anything in its power to protect you from a perceived threat (of death ultimately) – sometimes to your detriment.

With regards to ruminating, the subconscious is likely to be thinking… “I know, I can just think this through and I’m sure I’ll be able to find the answer, as to why Brian said that I don’t manage to keep calm when Patricia does.  Does he think she’s better than me?  Maybe Patricia is better than me?  OMG what if I’m not calm and I come across like a raving lunatic?  What if that’s what I am?  What if I do not have my mental health?  Oh God, I do not have my mental health, I’m a poor coper…  I know, if I just run through what was said one more time, I’ll figure this out.  This is how I managed feedback before, I know if I just find the answer I’m looking for, there must be more information, I must have missed something.  I went in the room, and Brian was there… ”  And so on!

Of course it doesn’t matter how many times you play it out, you won’t find what you’re looking for, it will never be satisfactory.  And look at the conclusions the subconscious is leaping to in my (facile) example!  All of sudden the thinker is mentally unstable, not good enough, has comparison-itis…  This was similar to Kirstie, who’s overwhelming thought was “I can’t cope”.  She had tried sort through everything in her head, but just couldn’t shake the thoughts, which were crippling her confidence, decision-making and more.

I say the example is facile, but this is what we humans do: I bet you recognise it.

So can I help: Is your inner voice too loud, or do you recognise that your subconscious is ruling your thinking?  Are you ready to let it go?  Are you ready for some peace of mind?

Why not book in for your free consultation where we can discuss in more detail how I can specifically help you.