Rumination, a mindless route to unhappiness

One definition of rumination that I found:

The process of continuously thinking about the same thoughts, which tend to be sad or dark, is called rumination . A habit of rumination can be dangerous to your mental health, as it can prolong or intensify depression as well as impair your ability to think and process emotions.

I realize that this bad habit is not limited to people with diabetes but I think it makes our challenge with diabetes even more difficult. I wish I was aware of this self-defeating behavior when I was much younger and traversing a particularly rough patch involving divorce and betrayal compounded with engaging in a losing legal battle to prevent my young child’s move far away from me. I lost 10 years of my life dominated by this bad way of thinking.

I am a person with strong cognitive skills and find this ability especially useful in many aspects of my life. Unfortunately, it also makes me susceptible to replaying events over and over with no off-ramp. It could be called analysis paralysis. I wish I had better emotional intelligence during that time as I seemed intent on learning things the hard way.

I did slowly learn some tactics that helped but wished I had been more focussed on treating this insidious habit with persistent antidotes. What are those antidotes?

One of the best tactics for me was communicating my perceived troubles with a caring listener, both friends and professionals. I think however, that one tactic is not enough to counteract this bad habit. A fabric of interwoven tactics works better.

I found that writing, as in a journal, an effective technique. The saying, “onto paper, off of your mind,” describes breaking this vicious circle.

I discovered that physical exercise could distract me from my problems, but again, it was not enough to neutralize my self-defeating behavior.

One thing that didn’t work was a belief that all I needed was some transforming cathartic event that would, once and for all, relieve me of this ineffective and painful thought process. In divorce situations, I think that this illogical conclusion traps many into making premature romantic relationships likely doomed to failure. I was lucky enough to avoid this particular trap.

In the last few years, I’ve adopted a meditation habit that I think would have been a potent tactic to break the rumination trap. It’s effective but not a quick fix, however.

Anyway, you get the idea. Do you observe this self-defeating behavior in yourself? What immediate tactics work for you to break this cycle and what things have you adopted in the long-run to defeat rumination?

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