When my daughter was in Pre-K I spent my days ruminating about her days. Were the other kids being nice to her? Was the teacher kind? Was anything at all happening anywhere near her that could possibly damage her self-esteem, squash her dreams, or set her on a path to addiction?
Why was I acting so crazy?
Was I a mom with too much time on her hands?
Was it a way to stay connected?
Did I feel like I was doing something useful by worrying?
I was emotionally wrung out by the end of the day.
This wasn’t a new pattern for me, but now that I had a daughter who was paying attention, I wanted to learn to manage my rumination habit. I went to work to figure it out and, very briefly, here’s what I learned:
Rumination is an action caused by worry. Our worry is caused by our thoughts. Long-term it won’t help to distract yourself because the thoughts that caused it are still in the background. The worry and rumination will return unless you deal with the root cause.
Here are a few tricks to help you get a handle on your rumination habit.
Hit pause and count backward from 90. This hack gets you out of your fearful primal brain and into your prefrontal cortex where more evolved thinking can happen. Worry lives in the future and our primal brain loves to anticipate danger to try and keep us safe.
Separate the facts of your situation from your thoughts, opinions, and judgments. “Joe is a jerk” is not a fact. What Joe did is a fact. That he’s a jerk is your opinion. It’s an important distinction because we have authority over our thoughts, but not Joe’s behavior.
Remind yourself that every thought is a choice. Try on 3 new thoughts about the troubling circumstance and see how those feel. Do any of them serve you better? Are they equally as believable? If you struggle to come up with alternate thoughts, try to look at the situation from another’s perspective – a good friend, a trusted teacher you once had, your friendly neighborhood life coach. How would they interpret it? When you find your new believable thought, practice it! Redirect your mind when you notice that you are re-entering the sticky spin cycle of rumination.
Give it a try and let me know how it works!
**Is worrying and ruminating interfering with your goals, your parenting, or your happiness? Do you know you’re wasting your time but just can’t seem to get a handle on it? Sign up for a free consult and get help getting unstuck! It will be like a warm bath for your brain.