The trouble with ruminating about something, is that you can go into such a level of deep thinking, you end up with your feet metaphorically stuck in cement while your life passes you by. – BaggageReclaim
When you’re going through a tough time with a breakup it’s natural that you have a lot of questions. You want to know why the breakup happened, when you can get better, how your ex is doing. What if the breakup was your fault? Why did they treat you the way they did? Are they over you already? What are they doing now? How can you move on and heal?
If you cared at all about the relationship and found the experience painful then asking those questions is often part and parcel of healthy reflection. But what happens when those questions turn into obsessions and you find yourself stuck in your breakup pain?
Rumination Keeps You Stuck
Rumination is where you go over the same thought patterns over and over again, often for hours. It’s pretty common when your breakup is fresh, but for many people it can continue for days, weeks, months or even years after the breakup happened. Excessive rumination can take over-thinking to an obsessive extreme. For people who are involved in dynamics such as the Twin Flame Runner & Chaser, rumination can be even more destructive.
Why does this happen? Well there are very good evolutionary reasons why people feel drawn to dwell on the negative in their lives and think about what hurt them. Your brain evolved to think about danger so that you could avoid it in the future. It helped keep your ancestors alive. This proves handy when you need to remember what a dangerous snake looks and moves like – but it’s not quite as useful when it comes to obsessive thoughts about your ex.
Rumination keeps you stuck because it adds to the natural bias your brain has towards paying attention to loss, negativity and pain.
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Caption for Video – ‘For more on why we get stuck in the negatives, check out this amazing TED Talk by Alison Ledgerwood’
What Does Rumination and Overthinking do to You?
So, what are the effects of getting stuck in rumination and overthinking? Peggy Nolan says that over-thinking can impact you in the following ten ways:
- Over-thinking a problem will keep any problem a problem, which will keep you stuck inside the same problem until you quit thinking about it.
- Over-thinking a situation will make the situation worse in direct proportion to the time and energy you spend over-thinking it.
- Over-thinking anything prevents your creative problem-solving skills from bubbling up.
- Over-thinking makes you worry, and worry is nothing more than your imagination concocting a negative future state.
- Over-thinking is a time suck — you’re so busy in a negative future state or negative past situation (which you can’t change) that you completely forget about right here right now.
- Over-thinking robs you of energy that could be better focused on things that are worthy of your attention.
- Over-thinking leads you to second guessing yourself and creates self-doubt
- Over-thinking is a drama that occurs on a stage, inside your head, where you are the director, producer, actor, actress, supporting cast, key grip, sound manager, and executive assistant to the executive assistant of the casting director.
- Over-thinking fabricates problems and gory “what if” horror stories.
- Over-thinking creates heightened feelings of anger, resentment, jealousy, fear, doubt, indecision, confusion, etc., as if whatever you are over-thinking is happening in real life. (‘10 Ways Over-thinking Destroys Your Happiness’ – Peggy Nolan).
No wonder, then, that you find it hard to move on and truly heal from your breakup when rumination is consistently drawing you to such negative energy!
You can Break Free! Learn to Reflect, not Ruminate
The first step towards getting yourself unstuck is to understand why you have been stuck in the first place. We live in an age where people are generally encouraged to think about their problems, to reflect on what happened and why and to work towards self-healing and mastery over the self. So, it’s no wonder that good intentions towards reflecting and learning from a painful experience can quite quickly morph into damaging rumination, especially when you are heartbroken.
And, yes it’s a good idea to let yourself really feel what you are feeling, and allow yourself to be sad, angry and depressed during the initial stages of a breakup. But if you find yourself –
- Unable to sleep because you spend hours thinking about your breakup
- Lacking focus on positive activities because your time and energy is taken up going over what went wrong and why
- Constantly trying to ‘check up’ on your ex via social media to try and figure out what they are thinking/feeling
You have very likely got into rumination that is keeping you from moving on. But, don’t lose heart! You can learn how to reflect instead of ruminate, so you can gain wisdom from your experience and start to truly move on.
Self-Reflection is different to rumination primarily because it involves the kind of thinking that spurs you onto positive action. This means taking time to think honestly about your situation and what has happened but without falling into the cycle of obsessively going over thoughts that do nothing but make you feel terrible.
How to Break the Rumination Habit
- Understand what is happening and acknowledge that rumination has been keeping you stuck.
- Commit to training your mind to think about situations differently and accept that going over old ground again and again will not change what has happened – it will only reinforce the negativity you feel.
- Use healthy distraction to help you cope. That means making sure you are not rebounding with someone new, or using substances or other unhealthy habits to distract you. Healthy distraction works because often we fall into ruminating automatically – sometimes hours can go by and you’ve been ruminating the entire time without being fully aware of it. The moment you catch yourself ruminating find a distraction. It could be a funny video, exercise, using meditation or energy healing. Reading a book, going for a walk, making a healthy meal can all help. The trick is to find something that can occupy your mind once you identify you’re in the rumination hamster wheel.
- Ask your friends to help by not letting you ruminate with them. It’s great to share how you feel with friends, but watch out for falling into the rumination trap with them where you all discuss your ex and the breakup without coming to any kind of positive resolution. As well-meaning as friends who listen to you and talk with you about your problems are, sometimes this can fall into rumination and help keep you stuck.
- Use journaling to reflect. Write down your thoughts and use ‘What’ questions rather than ‘why’ questions. When you ask yourself questions beginning with ‘what’ they spur you into taking action, rather than staying lost in the past. For example, instead of asking yourself ‘Why can’t I make my relationship work?’ ask yourself, ‘what can I do to learn from this so I can have a great future relationship?’
“Rumination tends to be eased if we learn to be mindful; if we are able to be aware of, and understand how our own thoughts work.” – Peter Kinderman
Getting yourself unstuck from obsessive thoughts about your ex is one of the most effective ways to create the space you need to truly heal and move on. So, the next time you catch yourself ruminating, start taking control by using the techniques above. If you need more specialist help, check out the HT Healing Program and how the Sound Healing Frequencies can help you to discover deep and lasting healing.