Rumination Is Value-less
April 9, 2022
I have a bad habit. I go through phases where I ruminate a lot. During those periods, my mind constantly cycles through the same thoughts over and over again. As a result, I overthink to a fault.
- Am I doing all the things I need to do to generate results?
- I wonder how my parents are, I wish I could be there with them.
- I am expecting a response from that client. When will it come? Why has it not come yet?
- Are my readers finding enough value in what I am sharing with them? What can I do to improve?
- I wonder how my team is feeling right now…Are they fulfilled and happy?
I know my predicament is not unique to me. Many people have told me that they struggle with the same problem.
There is a thin line between rumination and reflection. Rumination is when I keep over-thinking the same things in a loop, unconsciously. Reflection is when I am thinking consciously about some issue to get insight.
The reflection process is value-creating. Rumination, on the other hand, is value-less. This is because so many things we keep thinking about are unresolvable in the present moment-they are intangible, in the future, outside of our control, or entirely hypothetical. And therefore, there is no point in stewing over issues that we cannot do anything about.
” I have had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened,” Mark Twain is supposed to have said. He was talking about how our mind conflates normal thoughts into big issues.
Rumination strips and robs us of being in the present in the moment. People around us see us as distracted and distant.
How do I snap myself out of my ruminations?
Externalizing my ruminations by writing them out in my journal or talking about the issues swirling in my head with my spouse or friends is a great way to get out of the clutches of rumination.
Haruki Murakami, the prolific Japanese writer, said it nicely- Pointless thinking is worse than no thinking. Rumination is a form of pointless thinking that is best avoided.