Ruminator

Ruminate: to go over in the mind repeatedly and often casually or slowly.

Have you ever heard of this term before? I hadn’t until a year or so ago while listening to personal development. I can’t remember exactly which book or podcast I first heard it on, but it stuck with me.

A ruminator is someone who dwells on things that have happened in the past. It could have been just a few minutes ago, or years prior. What is typical, is that the ruminator repeats a situation over and over in their head, trying to figure out how they could have done something different or said something to change the course of the situation.

A ruminator continues to live in the past while also trying to move forward in the present.

For as long as I can remember, I have always ruminated. I dwell on situations to figure out how I could have done something differently. It doesn’t matter if nothing apparent went wrong, I still ruminate. I feel like there is something different I can always do so I am a better person, I don’t offend someone, I stand up for myself, etc.

I don’t know why I do it. It doesn’t help me in future situations. It doesn’t fix anything.

But since I learned of this term and habit, I have been able to identify when I do it. I can notice when I’m going down a rabbit hole in my past trying to fix something. I can tell myself that I’m ruminating again and to focus my mind on something else.

I can.

But, it isn’t as easy as being able to.

For some people, like me, ruminating doesn’t stop at the thoughts of what could be changed. It goes into a whole change of mood and outlook. Once I go down that rabbit hole, I can change an entire day. It could have been a great day with amazing things happening, and then BAM! that thought hits and there I go.

I’d like to tell you that I have been able to completely reverse my ruminating, but I haven’t. From experience, I can tell you that this habit is not an easy one to break. But, I have improved. I do it less often. I catch myself quicker. And I have come up with a way to pull myself out of the thought train and move on.

When I am ruminating and I finally catch myself, it’s like I flip a switch. You know that point when you feel like you finally understand something? Yeah, it’s like that. Once I realize what I’m doing and can get new thoughts going, I tell myself “so that happened” and then distract myself with new thoughts and dreams (something to look forward to) or by doing a task. I learned this from one of the coaches I follow, I believe Andrea Owen.

This method won’t work for everybody, and I don’t have other options to share, but learning to identify when you are ruminating will make a world of difference. Living by trying to fix things from the past will not change the future. Only living in the present and working on what is happening each moment will change the future.

I don’t want to say that you should never look back, because sometimes a quick look back to learn from a mistake or situation is just that, a learning experience. The problem is when a look back turns into a long gaze back turns into replaying something over and over again.

You aren’t going there. You can’t go there.

Learn from experiences and move on. Don’t dwell on what you cannot change.

Mistakes

We all make mistakes. Small mistakes. Big mistakes. Mistakes that later become the best decision we could have made. Mistakes that others don’t even see as a mistake.

The problem with mistakes isn’t the mistake itself. Well, sometimes, but not always. For me, it is definitely living in fear every day, every hour, every minute, every second, that I will make a mistake. The fear keeps me from allowing myself to just live. The fear keeps me from reaching higher and higher in life. The fear literally runs my life.

But how did I get to this point? How does anybody get to this point?

I can tell you that I battle with this fear because of my upbringing. I was constantly getting yelled at for almost everything I did. My parents were always yelling at each other for the littlest things. I would get in trouble for everything my sisters did that was wrong in my parents’ mind.

The only mistake I couldn’t make was doing okay in school and graduating. I did better than okay in school, until college. Then I did okay. But that wasn’t a mistake.

Because I was always yelled at, I fear doing absolutely anything wrong. I had a few good years where I just didn’t give a shit. Alcohol enabled those years. I drank entirely too much. Most people would call that a mistake. I don’t. I was able to live almost carefree and just enjoy life. No, I wasn’t true to who I am as a person, but it was freeing to not care.

Once I came back to real life and started to care, my fear ballooned. I wish I could tell you that I’ve overcome this fear and I can tell you how to as well. But I haven’t.

What I can tell you is that I push the fear everyday. I push it so I can see that what I might think will be a mistake, isn’t. I push it so I can grow. Living my life in fear of making mistakes makes living a rewarding and happy life very difficult. To help overcome the fear, I work on my mind and beliefs.

I have a lot of messed up beliefs about life and how things should be. That gives into my fear of making mistakes. So, I listen to self-help books on audible while I get ready for work in the morning. I read self-help when I pick up my Kindle. I embrace those cheesy positivity quotes. I even share them. And I come here to share with you my experiences.

Fear is not easy to overcome. Fear is ingrained in all of us. It’s how humans have survived so many years. But our fears do not evolve as we get older without work. Fear will not resolve itself as we coast through life.

Don’t let the fear of making a mistake hold you back in life. Challenge yourself. Break yourself.

IMG_20190701_064840_020000