Rumination isn’t something that happens to us. Instead, rumination is a choice we make to actively engage with a thought.
The process first starts with an automatic thought. For example, “What if I blush on stage?” This is not rumination yet. This is simply just a thought that randomly popped up, outside of our control.
These thoughts can be compelling though. They seem important. It feels reckless not to engage with the thought.
In this case, rumination might look like trying to figure out how not to blush or reduce the perceived dangers of blushing:
- “I wonder if there’s any articles online offering tips on how not to blush”
- “I can ask the organizer to turn down the lights”
- “Maybe I should call in sick”
Rumination is a choice to put energy toward a thought. Rumination is circular and counterproductive, even though initially it feels productive and actually dangerous not to engage with.
The way to stop ruminating is to simply (not easily) stop putting energy into the automatic worry thoughts. Leaving the question it poses unanswered. Not ignoring it or trying to push it away. Not trying to convince it of anything. Just letting the automatic thoughts do their thing without having a conversation with them. This of course takes practice!