From time to time all of us may be troubled by obsessive thinking that won’t go away or can’t be defused. This type of thinking is often referred to as “ruminating” in this context. Ruminating thoughts can be pervasive and troubling for many of us. We get caught up in ruminating thoughts due to our fast pace and demanding lives. Obsessive or ruminating thoughts can result from anxiety, doubts, and fears, as well as predicting thoughts of what might happen in the future, projecting negative thoughts, stress, and worry over things that haven’t happened and may never happen.
What is a ruminating thought?
Ruminating thinking is defined as focusing on your attention – sometimes compulsively - on distress, and on its possible causes, outcomes and consequences. It rarely focuses on solutions. When you ruminate, you overthink or obsess about situations or life events, such as work or relationships. This type of thinking can result in a mental thought loop which over time can manifest into a thought addiction. The more you attempt to fight them the more intense and embedded the thoughts become. This thinking process can cause you to feel helpless and increase your distress. Many thoughts on which you ruminate are false, distorted, misleading, unsupported predictions and/or unrealistic.
Research has shown that rumination is associated with a variety of negative consequences, including the increase of anxiety, negative beliefs, depressive thoughts, panic attacks, and increased symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as addictions, emotional acting out episodes and eating disorders.
Once caught in ruminating, it is challenging to stop. You can go to great lengths to alter your thinking. Excessive ruminating can be devastating and demoralizing to your ability to function appropriately and even to your life as a whole.
9 Tips On How To Clear Ruminating Thoughts
1. Be in the moment.
You can accomplish this by grounding yourself. Sit with your feet flat on the floor and sitting with your back straight. Once you’re grounded, focus on your breathing or heartbeat which it will bring you into the moment.
Consciously connect with your thought stream. Recognize and write down all the thoughts that you are ruminating on and which are troubling you.
3. Tune in
Assess and tune into the thoughts you have identified. Determine whether your thoughts are good (appropriate, factual, real, truthful) or harmful (bad, false, diluted, distorted, misleading and/or unrealistic).
4. Slow it down
Slow down your thought stream by deepening your breathing and slowing your heart rate. Pick out the one most troubling thoughts which are the most false, diluted, distorted, misleading and/or unrealistic which you want to cancel and remove.
5. Stop your thought stream.
Visualize the thought you have targeted and highlight it in your mind, so it is brighter than all of the other thoughts. Using your imagination, pull out the thought from its position in your conscious thought stream.
6. Erase the negative ruminating thought.
Then clear (remove or cancel) the negative ruminating thought by imagining you are erasing it. Once you have deleted the negative thought and it is complete, you will have an empty space in your thought stream.
7. Replace with anew
Insert a new, inspiring, motivating or positive thought into space in your thought stream where the ruminating negative thought resided.
Repeat the new thought 4 times out loud with intense feeling. Lastly, give your new thought permission to grow and become strong. Once complete, start up your thought stream again.
9. Repeat the Process
Once you have completed clearing the first targeted thought, then move to the next thought you want to stop in your thought stream. At that point, repeat all the steps again steps - 4 through 9.
Why let yourself obsess by ruminating about what was and/or what might be when you really only have today, now? The more you practice these tips, the more skillful you will become, and your confidence, competence, and personal power will increase.
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