On our journey to living emotionally healthy lives, we must always be willing to unlearn old and unhelpful habits, and replace them with new patterns of behavior that support our growth. One such habit that you should unlearn is negative overthinking or rumination. Rumination happens when you constantly brood over negative situations in your mind. It is a very extreme form of worrying that has been linked with psychological conditions like depression, severe anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
When you ruminate, you may find yourself thinking in terms of “what ifs” or “if only”. For example, “What if I never started that business?” “If only I didn’t date him.” “If only I was more prepared for that presentation at work.” Rather than provide insight about how to resolve that situation, rumination will leave you with feelings of sadness, regret and guilt, which are some negative emotions you want to avoid as they can be dangerous to your health.
If you always find yourself ruminating, here are a few helpful tips that can help you deal with your negative overthinking.
- Replace your rumination with reflection.
Reflection involves evaluating our past experiences in order to learn from them. How does this play out? Simple. Instead of telling yourself “if only”, ask yourself, “what can I learn from this?” For example, rather than berating yourself over a failed relationship with “If only I never met this player,” ask yourself, “what can I learn from this relationship that didn’t work out?” That small shift in your thinking will help you see every negative experience as a learning opportunity that you can apply to future events.
- Think about the worst-case scenario.
Sometimes, we ruminate over events that are yet to happen. In cases like that, a helpful strategy would be to think about the worst-case scenario. I know that probably sounds like a terrible idea at first, but it helps to render your original rumination powerless. So instead of obsessing if your boss will like the new pitch you’re working on, ask yourself these two questions:
- “What’s the worst thing that will happen?”
- “Can I handle it?”
You will be surprised to find out that your answer to the last question is yes, and that you are well equipped to handle whatever life throws at you.
- Let go of what is out of your control.
Be willing to admit that some things are way out of your control, and be willing to let go of them. Ask yourself, “can I change anything about this situation?” If your answer is no, decide to let it go. You can even perform a symbolic act like writing out that situation on a piece of paper and shredding it to pieces. For things you can change, begin identifying what you can do and start doing them in small incremental steps.
- Get coaching or therapy
If you find that your ruminations are affecting with the quality of your life, you might consider trying coaching or therapy to help you. A good coach or therapist will help you use some of these techniques and practices by providing accountability and support that you might not have on your own.
Finally, remember that your emotional health matters, and if 2020 is going to be an amazing year for you on all fronts, you must pay good attention to it. I hope this helps you.