I have often joked about having OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) tendencies and perhaps when one thinks about it from the perspective of the need for symmetry when I have the urge to straighten a frame hanging on the wall, it does not seem like there is much to worry about. This type of OCD is very easy to detect, well in my opinion. Even though I was not conscious of it at the time, when I look back now, I do strongly believe that I had some obvious compulsive behaviour – it just was not obvious to me or anyone around me that was not familiar with this type of behaviour, otherwise known as mental compulsion acts which was a huge distraction for quite some time in my life. This too was one of my Top 10 Emotional Time Wasters: Rumination
I used to spend a lot of time trying to figure certain things out. Trying to find answers. Digging deep, over analysing. Not knowing when to let go. I used to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to make sense of people, things, and situations. This was a huge distraction in my life. It used to drain me. Allowing yourself to ruminate also means that you can stop yourself from doing it. It is not easy, but it is possible. It is a compulsion that I was not aware I had. As I was not aware of it, I did not realise that I needed help then. This resulting in me spending copious amounts of time trying to figure out things that were not even my place to figure out.
To add some context, let me share an example:
After a breakup I used to think that I was innocently reflecting. I wanted to know what went wrong so that I could use it as a learning lesson. But I would find myself asking myself questions like “Why me, why did he have to cheat on me?” There was no way that I could possibly find reasons for his behaviour, yet I used to spend so much of my time crying and asking myself this and similar questions. I was brooding over things that did not add any positive value in my life. It affected my mood and my mental well-being. It was a distraction and of course not a positive one, that limited me from being involved in my current situation. It was self-sabotage and of course I see it more clearly now, also understanding that it was my coping mechanism.
Reflecting on this through this post, makes me feel a sense of pride that I was able to stop ruminating without any help. I guess when they say “experience is the best teacher” – this is apt for me. My life and circumstances changed and through lots of self-talk, I was able to leave that behind me.
The reason I chose to share this with you is because I feel that there are so many people like myself, who probably do not realise that they are ruminating and causing self-sabotage by over thinking things, draining themselves and not being able to find the answers that they seek. When instead the distraction of rumination can and should be eliminated so that you can focus on positive and productive thoughts to turn those into positive actions. To me it’s a silent mental health concern which is underestimated. I will not be surprised if you told me that you never heard of it until this post.
Rumination is not only applicable in romantic relationships but also in the context of work relationships and other personal relationships. Although I have given you context with one example, I have ruminated in these other areas of my life in the past.
Sometimes certain things do not work out. Be it a relationship. Be it a job. It does not help if we consume almost all our time thinking about why it did not work and trying to analyse the situation. Some bad decisions are irreversible and no matter how much of your time you spend trying to figure it out or trying to figure who to believe, it cannot be undone. Our time and energy can be put to better use, on the things and people that add value to our lives. We must somehow find the strength and wisdom to know when it is time to move on. If we cannot and need a little help along the way, then seek the help from someone you can open to or to a professional who will be trained to guide you with remedial tools to stop ruminating.
When I look back now, I also am almost positive that my rumination led to cognitive fatigue. Although I cannot say that I still ruminate, I do know that I still have phases of cognitive fatigue. When I experienced brain-fog last year as a side effect from Covid, the cognitive fatigue seemed to be amplified! But this is a topic for another day.
I would love to know your thoughts about this – have you ever found yourself ruminating? Is it more common that we realise?
By the way – I am on Instagram, check out my profile: @nicolasubben