Tag Archives: depression

7 Steps to Help Those who Ruminate.

Sometimes I think I am like a cow. I ruminate over things.

7 Steps to Help Those who Ruminate

 

Much of my life I have spent time working on farms, I even have a University degree in agriculture. I humorously call this my degree in pastoral care.

Cows sit out in the field and chew the cud. With their mouth’s moving from side to side they chew food that has already eaten. Cows and sheep are ruminants and have 4 stomachs, so they eat their fill then they chew it later, colloquially known as ‘Chewing the cud’.

Rumination according to Wiki is defined in this way

Rumination is the compulsively focused attention on the symptoms of one’s distress, and on its possible causes and consequences, as opposed to its solutions. Rumination is similar to worry except rumination focuses on bad feelings and experiences from the past, whereas worry is concerned with potential bad events in the future. Both rumination and worry are associated with anxiety and other negative emotional states.

Do you ruminate?

I know you don’t re chew your food, well at least I hope you don’t, but do you go over and over issues all the time?

What I had been taught all my life was not true: experience is not the best teacher! It’s what you do with that experience that matters. John Maxwell

I think we all have a tendency to do this, some more than others, but if you are always looking back then you are going to stumble in any efforts to going forward.

It’s like we chew over things. Round and around and around. ‘Woulda’, ‘coulda’ and ‘shoulda’ are echoed self talk sound bites leaving you malnourished of hope.

Why do we ruminate?

  1. To feel like we are doing something about the problem. We want to change a situation, so we keep going over and over and over it, looking for a solution. This feeling of doing something can just be a subtle downward delusional spiral to the depressing reality is that there is nothing you can do. The brain, in trying to resolve its tension, looks for the answer. Any activity, including rumination, feels good. We hate ambiguity, that sense of uncertainty and lacking of clarity. We want to solve the mystery.  So like a good detective on T.V. we hunt out the clues to solve the murder and eliminate the mystery. Know that you will never know everything and chasing the past for purpose is like chasing the clouds for pleasure. It will leave you exhausted and lost.
  2. To Self deprecate. Perhaps it is a way of punishing ourselves. That below the surface of our thinking there is a deeper trail of chewing. ‘I did those things, so now I have to punish myself’… ‘This is the consequence of my actions’ … ‘This is the reaping of what has been sown’. So we stew in this cud as punishment. Any sense of forgiveness, grace or loving fathers embrace (Story of Loving father – Prodigal son) is not allowed to touch our lips.
  3.  To potentially learn. We chew over the situation to glean some wisdom from the situation. We consider experience is the best teacher yet only considered experience teaches us wisdom. Rumination can be helpful, as long as it leads to action and not just stewing and

So what are you going to do with that experience.

Are you just going to keep ruminating on it forever?

7 steps to Help those who Ruminate.

  1. Write it out. Get what you’re ruminating in your mind out of the head and on to some paper. I think writing in a journal is one of the most powerful of all mental health disciplines you can have. Here is a link to some a post I have written on journaling.

    Learning to write is learning to think. You don’t know anything clearly unless you can state it in writing. S.I. Hayakawa

  2. Problem solve it. This where writing it down comes in really helpful. Get together with someone you trust and talk about what you have written down.Tease it out to find the problem. Find one concrete solution you can (not should, could or would) do to overcome what you are ruminating about.
  3. Engage in activities that promote the positive. What activities fill your mind with other thoughts preferably positive thoughts. Hobbies, mediation, reading, running, cooking. The main point is to get your mind out of the rumination rut for a while.
  4. Can them.  Get yourself a tin can, and as the questions come up write them down on a piece of paper and prayerfully place them in the can. Imagine yourself placing them in Gods hand to hold them for you. God has big hands! Place the can up on a shelf and leave it there. After a while take that can off the shelf and see if any of your questions have been answered in the intervening time. Add more questions when they come up. see more here
  5. Schedule them. Tell your brain this ‘I do not have time to think about that at this moment. I will think about it tomorrow at 3pm’. Its telling your brain that yes what you are presenting to me is worthy of time and thought so I therefore will make space for it. If you remember to think about at 3 pm so be it, but I have found quite often that this little technique will slowly deflate the rumination balloon of any sense of self-importance
  6. Place them. Do you have a place where rumination is worse? Look for patterns of where your rumination seems to occur more frequently and/ or more powerfully. ‘When I found a place to think my thoughts my thoughts found a place in me.’ John Maxwell
  7. Displace them. I often use truth coaches to get my thinking back on track. These are little powerful insights, quotes, verses that speak truth into my thinking. Find out more here.

Remember this. Whatever you dwell on, it will get you, in the end.

It will create thinking tracks in your brain the size of the grand canyon where every situational event will tumble into.

Quotes to consider and share
  • Monitor your thinking and deliberately dwell on the virtues of your difficult friend, or negative feelings will surely follow. David Riddell
  • What you focus on gets you. Focus on the negatives/ challenges will always take you down. Focus on the positive/ good things will always give me hope.
  • I choose to ruminate, ponder and toss over in my mind good things.
  • Thoughts disentangle themselves passing over the lips and through pencil tips. Dawson Trotman
  • The thoughts I indulge grow stronger. The thoughts I acknowledge and put in their place lose their power to discourage me
  • The tricky thing about rumination is that it feels like it’s helpful, but there’s no action taken, and you don’t move forward to some sort of solution. Carla Grayson
  • He who cannot change the very fabric of his thought will never be able to change reality. Anwar Sadat
  •  To change your emotions, first get control of your thoughts. Ruts of the mind become moods of the heart. David Riddell
  •  To achieve radical change, I need to call some of my feelings ‘liars’ and choose to side with truth, against my own emotions, until my feelings come around. David Riddell
  • I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse Philippians 4:8 (The Message)

 

Exercises
  1. Use a journal to write out what you’re ruminating on. Share it with a trusted friend, counsellor or pastor and problem solve anything that needs addressing
  2. Find some truth coaches and write them out in an easily accessible place such as a small notebook you can carry at all times. When you feel the ruminations coming on, spend time reading your truth coaches.
  3. Get yourself a tin can and can the questions you are ruminating over.

Barry Pearman
Photo Credit: bogers via Compfight cc

p.s. what did you think about this post! Leave me a comment or tweet me at @barrypearman 

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You really need an Encouragement Journal

You really need an Encouragement Journal

 

I forget.

Actually, my memory can be pretty bad. I have a ‘forgetta computer’ for a brain as someone has said.

We all have a limited recall and so we need reminding, especially of positive truth.

As someone who periodically struggles with depression, I have found that I especially need my mind to be reminded. To be topped up with a positive truth.

One of the ways I do this is to be a hoarder of encouragements.

The word encouragement has its root in the Latin word cor, which literally means “heart”.
So does the word courage.  To have courage means to have heart.
To encourage – to provide with or give courage – literally means to give others heart.
Encouraging the Heart – A leader’s guide to rewarding and recognizing others” by Kouzes/Posner

Recently I had my 50th birthday.

Ok, thanks, my hearing is still sufficient enough to hear the applause. Moving on, I received lots of lovely cards and some neat presents. Friends and family came for a party.

So what I am going to do is to collect all the cards and photos and save them for a rainy day. A day when the mood and thoughts might be quite black. I will then go to these and read the truth and remind myself.

I have done this in the past with a journal. I would write any little encouragement I had in there and glue cards, notes, photos, and even tickets to sports events.

We so often let the little encouragements, the notes, the expressions of  ‘thank you’ to easily slip through the fingers of our mind.

We need to grab them, glue them, and nail the suckers down to somewhere where we can easily access them.

Ok, so here is what I want you to do.
For today take a note of every encouragement you receive. It might come via an email, a few words someone says, a note, a card, a compliment, a photo. Grab it with both hands and keep it somewhere. Write the date on it and make sure it is accessible.

I have fallen out of the habit of doing this, but I need to get back into it.

Some would call this scrapbooking, which I suppose it is, but I am not into all the fancy stuff of different fonts, colours, borders, yadda yadda yadda.

Nope, just grab the card, letter or compliment and slap it down into a large scrapbook/ journal.

What can you include? Anything, as long as it won’t become a health hazard. Yes, the meal you cooked was fantastic and you should be on Master Chef Uzbekistan, but take a photo of the delicacy and write down peoples comments. You don’t need to include a sample for later.

I know it’s tempting to create an electronic journal, and scan the cards and notes but please don’t. There is something quite powerful that happens in the grey matter when we have a physically tactile version of the encouragement. Hmm, feel the love.

Glean, grab, glue and see what it does for you.

Apology to all poets, one I am not.

Ok, now you can encourage me.

You can subscribe via the little box at the top right of the screen.

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You could even be really brave and write a comment below. I may well copy and paste/ glue it into my encouragement journal!

Barry Pearman
Image: How Kira got her mojo back by kira.belle Creative Commons Flickr