Rumination-When we get lost in our thoughts
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Thinking about our problem is, without doubt, part of an effective way of solving them. If we need to deal with one of our life issues, we think it through, review our various options, and then choose a course of action to handle the problem. We can then take action to resolve the issue- and this might include redefining if so that we don’t experience it as a problem any longer.
But sometimes we get stuck at the thinking stage of problem-solving and go no farther. The success of thinking can lead us to engage solely in thought, as if-if we do more and more of it- we can think our way through what seems to be an insoluble issue. We find comfort in thought itself and never move into the problem-solving strategy of taking efficacious action. When we may not understand is that rumination (or overthinking) is driven by anxiety. Letting thoughts swirl in our heads over and over again is one way to soothe our anxiety- but it’s a trap because we get stuck in our thoughts and never move on to take action to solve the problem.
Rumination is more likely to occur when our thoughts are largely negative. Positive thinking encourages us to take effective action. Negative thoughts, on the other hand, because of social constraints and the negative impact they have on our self-image, discourage us from taking action. When we engage in negative thinking most of the time, we feel overwhelmed by the world. We feel stuck. We can’t see our way out of our problems. Negative thinking drives people away from us so that we are unable to share our thoughts with others and benefit from the feedback they might offer. And so, alone, we think- and think. We ruminate.
Researchers have found that women are much more likely to ruminate than men. This reflects the two-to-one ratio of women who suffer from depression in comparison to men. There are a number of possible reasons why women ruminate more often than men, including socialization practices in our society, job, discrimination, lower pay, and a great incidence of abuse. In addition to depression, rumination is associated with anxiety, anger, and substance abuse.