A young man I met recently recommended the book “The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World” by Sophia Dembling. I am finding it quite interesting. In her chapter entitled “Just Intense Enough”, she notes that introverts often like to go into “intense territory”.  The concern is that thereis a fine line between “thinking” and “ruminating”. “Introverts are nothing if not ruminators” says Ms. Dembling. on ruminating as:

·       Dwelling on difficulties and things that upset us

·       Repeatedly thinking about past events

·       Becoming preoccupied with something and not being able to get it out of your mind

·      Dealing with our problems through this ‘learned strategy”.

Rumination is normal, but when done excessively, it is not helpful and can often be harmful. Rumination tends to focus on what went wrong, causes, and consequences, and not on solutions. Rumination can lead to inactivity, avoidance, anxiety, and depression. Uhdinger sums up rumination as a “negative downward spiral of thinking”.  Thinking things through over and over may seem like a good way to find THE solution. (Looking for “THE SOLUTION” can be a consequence of perfectionism that leads to inactivity” ~JSN)

Uhdinger suggests breaking the loop of rumination by finding the objective distance to come up with a real solution, think the plan through once more, and then start to implement it. He lists 11 ways to stop ruminating. I have added some notes and some mantras I got from Belleruth Naparstek.

1.      Identify triggers for ruminating, recognize when you are ruminating, and realize this isn’t helpful. (I tend to ruminate on why I can’t be the person I was 2-3 years ago… why can’t I have a successful career, do half marathons, go for long bike rides etc. .” I use a mantra from Belleruth Naparstek: “More and more I can appreciate my body, respect it, and take good care of it. ~JSN).

2.      Allow yourself to think about the situation one more time and then plan a next step. (I often use the mantra “I will make the next good decision I can and move on.”  ~JSN).

3.      Find something funny in the situation and use humor to look at it from a different angle.(Of all my perfectionistic tendencies. I’m generally pretty good at laughing at myself <grin>, My Belleruth here: “I understand that the time to be motivated by guilt, resentment, perfectionism,or competitiveness is over. Now is the time to do things out of love andcelebration and the joy of self-expression.” ~JSN

4.      Treat yourself compassionately; how would you respond to a friend facing this issue? (Many people have suggested actually writing a letter to a friend and then applying it to yourself. I haven’t done this on paper… yet ~JSN)

5.      FOCUS ONLY ONTHINGS YOU CAN CONTROL!! (This is a HUGE one for me! ~JSN) Uncertainty will always be there and is a big part of life.  Practice and learn to accept uncertainty. (Again, this is a REAL challenge for me!!! My niece Kylie sent me the Serenity Prayer on a beautiful card, and I look at it every day! I have yet another mantra from Belleruth aparstek related to this: “More and more, I can let go of worrying about things I cannot control and focus on my own inner peacefulness”.   ~JSN)

6.      Accept your current state and stop wanting things to be different.(Also hard for me as I have had so many changes in my “identities” o rat least how I perceive my identities.  My “Belleruth” here “I know that the more I can acknowledge and accept my feelings without criticism or blame, the more I allow myself to be peaceful, calm, and well.” and “I know that when I can live in the present, taking pleasure in the beauty and aliveness of each moment, I allow myself to be peaceful, calm, and wel

7.      Think “STOP!”or even say it out loud to break the loop.(I’ve tried this and it actually works pretty often. ~JSN)

8.      Center yourself.  BE. HERE. NOW. Let go of unhealthy and/or unattainable goals and stop fighting the current situation. Come up with a good plan and stick with it.(I have a mantra from Belleruth Naparstek related to this as well: “I know that when I can soften and let go of harsh expectations and unrealistic demands on myself and others, I allow myself to be peaceful, calm, and well.” ~JSN

9.      Distract yourself.  Use mindfulness, meditate, do some physical exercise, color, do crafts, read etc.… (I have become pretty good at this, the caution is to not fall into avoidance and thus pushing away and not accepting the situation which is probably what got me here in the first place <grin> ~JSN)

10.   Remember: youare NOT your thoughts.  Thoughts willfade away if you don’t strain and hold onto them. Examine your thoughts curiously and without judgment. STOP JUDGING situations and experiences. This will not change them and just increases distress and saps energy.  (I am veryjudgmental of myself, going back to the perfectionism.

11.   If the abovedo not help, schedule a time for worry and then stop.  Imagine putting your rumination in a “worrybox”.  Write it down and then let it go for now.


Essentially, says Uhdinger: “Acceptance rather than rumination is the key to start finding solutions.”  Thus, the first step is to realize and understand that rumination isn’t helpful. Comparing your current state to your desired state will also simply make you feel worse, as well as going through all “if… then” scenarios you can imagine. Accepting the situation, being in the present moment and allowing negative thoughts to fade away while working on an action plan what you can do is the key to overcome rumination. You can let go of the pressure that you have put on yourself after thinking about the problem one more time and coming up with a plan how to solve it (or simply accept it and be with it).




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