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Are you one of those people who keep dealing with past situations? Surely you keep repeating yourself in your head how you could have done better. Something less stupid than saying or not "dropping the ball" in this project.
Too much is known as "rumination". It is a form of negative meditation that can prevent you from achieving your goals. This is because by remembering events in the past, you create the same negative emotions in the present. You can come to punish yourself for that void that exists between ideal and reality. You accuse yourself of being more unorganized, more ambitious, smarter, more disciplined, etc.
In addition to being an uncomfortable activity, rumination has been linked to a decrease in the ability to solve problems, increased anxiety, and even depression.
No worries. The good news is that breaking this cycle is a lot easier than you think.
The first step is to identify the triggers
It's easy when you make a list of the events that have occurred since the last time you experienced something that you often think about.
Usually your trigger list can contain things like:
Taking Bad Financial Advice Make a Big Career Change Collaborate with People You Didn't Trust Work with people who seemed smarter than you
Solve it by creating distance
Now create a little space between you and the thought that you are reviewing so often. It is a technique that works very well in meditation for gaining clarity about reality.
For example, if you have a tendency to develop anxiety thinking about the time when you did not do a task perfectly, pay attention to your thinking. Instead of thinking, "I am not competent", change your internal speech to "I feel I am not competent". You can even create more space by saying, "My mind feels like I am not competent."
This will help you realize that no matter how powerful your thoughts are (as they affect your reality) you are not them. Identify that it is impossible to get everything going perfectly. And being obsessed with something that can't be is just a waste of time. In this case, also energy that you can invest to improve yourself next time.
Distinguish ruminating from learning
Reviewing past situations is a great way to learn to improve. But in the case of rumination, the more you do it, the lower the returns. It quickly becomes a source of fear rather than learning.
For example, a study published in the Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology found that women who were prone to rumination took a month longer than the average person to seek help after discovering abnormalities in their breasts.
To change your mind from ruminating to learning, simply ask yourself, "What's the best decision right now?" Start with the first step, it doesn't matter if it's not perfect or as detailed as possible. This is extremely helpful for people who are perfectionists and are paralyzed by fear or fear of making another mistake.
Train your mind to loosen up
Once you find that your mind has entered a ruminant state, physically distract yourself for a few minutes. Focus on another activity that needs your attention but is not strenuous. It could be cleaning your inbox, filling out an expense report, or even going for a walk. When you're done, return to the task you were just doing before your thoughts start ruminating.
Practicing yoga or meditation is another great way to exercise your mind. It is impossible to stop the thoughts your mind is offering you. It is through meditation that you can train your mind to take care of thoughts, to correctly identify them and separate them from reality, and finally to bring your mind back into the present. Ultimately, this (bringing your mind back into the present) is exactly what you need to do when you are thinking.
Look for mistakes in your thinking
Sometimes rumination is activated by mistakes in our cognitive process. The problem is, we usually don't have a good grasp of these errors. Especially when we are already ruminating because this is already clouding our thinking.
The solution in this case is to have a good grasp of the mistakes in our logic before the mistakes. Over time, we can have more clarity in these moments of calm. Pay attention to what your logic dictates in these moments in order to be clear in moments of fear.
For example, Alice Boyes, PhD in clinical psychology and author of the Healthy Mind Toolkit, gives us a personal example in a book.
“When I read work-related emails, I often see a statement or two that annoy me. As a result, I am invalidating or misinterpreting the rest of the message. But when I knew this pattern in M i, I learned not to think on my first impressions. Instead, I read the mail again the next day and find that my first impression was wrong. ""
Another cognitive mistake is usually having very high expectations of ourselves or misinterpreting the expectations of others. We tend to underestimate the possibility that people who are equal to or more capable than us also have acceptance problems. We're drowning in a glass of water.
As you begin to think about the behavior of others and ascribe a cause to that behavior, you at least keep the possibility that your explanation of the cause is wrong. Or accept the possibility that we will never find out the real reason. The latter is a great way to escape the trap of constant rummaging around for imaginary reasons.
Rumination is a fairly common problem. More than we'd like to acknowledge. The first step in breaking the cycle is realizing when your mind is starting to think unproductively. Then have strategies ready when you need to retrace your thoughts back to the present.
This workout will take some time, but it is a great skill to increase your productivity and emotional wellbeing. You can change your mentality from "I should have …" to "The best thing you can do now is …".