Expanded on from Source: Colorado Biz Magazine, 2014 =>
What is rumination?
One of my favorite definitions can be found on Wikipedia, which describes rumination as “compulsively focused attention on symptoms of one’s distress and on its possible causes and consequences as opposed to its solutions.”
Rumination flows from an unsatisfied state of being and is often fueled by our self -judgments due to unmet goals or perceived failures in life. Remember, failure is simply a label we place on undesirable outcomes.
Ruminating is something we do in our mind over past negative events that evoke undesirable feelings and emotions. Cows ruminate. They chew their “cud” and swallow it only to spit it back up and chew on it some more. Cows actually need to chew on their food twice in order to digest it. They can spend up to eight hours each day chewing on their cud.
So my question to you this week worth exploration is simple: How many hours a day do you spend chewing on your cud? What percentage of your focused attention is spent on past events and possible causes and consequences, occupying precious mind space you could be using to tune into creative solutions?
Be honest with yourself. Whatever you drag out into the light of your consciousness loses its grip on you. We often ruminate over past events that ignite negative feelings and emotions. Anxiety actually flows from focused mental attention on the future: fear of not measuring up; fear of not being able to handle a situation.
Let’s explore a possible work place scenario that will often drag you into chewing your “cud” to your own detriment:
You’re busting it at work, giving it your all with your eye on a possible promotion. You have communicated clearly and effectively to upper management why the talents and skills you possess are a perfect match for the open position and would add considerable value to the company as a whole. You sit down one morning, open up your email only to read that the position has been offered to a colleague of yours who happens to work in your department.
Here are just a few choices of response available to you in this moment:
* Negative rumination fueled by ugly talk. Self judgment and imploding sound bites.
* Verbally cut your colleague down and gossip in a feeble attempt to feel superior which flows from insecurities and lack of belief in one’s worth and value.
* OR you can apply a healthy self-care system that allows you the mental head space to stand outside of the conflict, when life does not show up the way you want it to.
Explore implementing the following 5 Ruminating Remedies the next time you catch yourself chewing your cud in the face of undesirable outcomes:
1. Focus on one positive action step forward towards solution.
2. Serve another human being who is going through a challenge. This will bring perspective and levity to your situation. As you forget about yourself you make more room for what leads to lasting joy: serving others. See how many people today you can move to a smile or laughter. Whatever you give out comes back to you 10-fold.
3. Increase your safety and connection, which are two of your basic needs outside of food, water and shelter. Get out and reinforce positive connections within your primary support circle, at work or at home. Doing this will boost your confidence that life can move forward in a positive direction in light of the negative outcome you are ruminating over. Similar to opening up windows in a stuffy house, healthy supportive connections open up headspace and reinforce your ability to confidently create positivity. I have a little statement that I use when I find myself in a mental storm of negativity: be here now, keep moving.
4. Breathe in deeply through your nose and exhale tension from your body. Use one of the following flip statements to help you flip your negative mental sound bites into positivity, or come up with your own:
- Be Here Now; Focus on what I can do to access options for creative solutions.
- The solution exists, I simply need to tune into it.
- Where’s the open door. It’s not rejection it’s simply direction.
- What’s the bigger lesson in this that will expand my character in a positive direction?
- I’ve moved through conflict successfully in the past and I choose to do it again easily and naturally.
- I choose to pass this test, by making a healthy response for a greater good in my life and the good of all concerned, simply because it feels better.
5. Explore The More The More NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) technique to help associate your negative sound bytes with your positive flip statements. Use the following template to plug in your negative ruminating thought first and then link it to your positive flip statement. For example: The more I feel overlooked and under-appreciated because I did not get the promotion, The more I am able to tune into possible solutions to help myself return to inner peace and confidence: The more I need to know why I did not get what I wanted, The more I am able to release feelings of rejection and believe that a better opportunity awaits me, it’s simply direction.
Focus on what is working out for you, your available resources for optimal and attainable solutions. Concentrate on connecting with your past successes, strengths and talents.
Stepping away from the situation, listening to your favorite music, exercising and getting out in nature open up the mental windows to fresh perspectives in the midst of a negative ruminating head-space.
As Bruce Barton poignantly reminds us: “All things splendid have been achieved by those who dared to believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance.”
Dare to believe.
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