Written by: Seada
If you have ever watched or seen a tornado perform its magnificent work, instantly you will not hesitate to take cover. A tornado is powerful. It uses its force to pick up anything in sight: houses, trees, animals, people, and vehicles. Rumination has the power of a tornado. Rumination is the repetition of negative thoughts. As you begin to think of one negative thought, it rapidly spirals into another negative thought; such as,
What if I don’t get accepted to school? What if no one likes me? What if someone makes fun of me? What if…What if…
“What if” questions are anxiety provoking questions; what if stems from the unknown. If anxiety provoking statements sound familiar to you then you have been ruminating. There are simple tools we can use to interrupt the spiral of negative thinking or thinking traps.
Step 1: Becoming Aware
- By paying careful attention to your negative thoughts, you become aware of the spiral. Creating awareness of our thoughts is not as simple as it sounds – I wish it was! So, try a family or friends challenge: encourage them to start to pay attention to one another to help all of you slow down your thoughts! The person who becomes aware gets a prize! Now that’s a win-win situation.
Step 2: Develop a Plan of Action
- Rather than being caught in the tornado effect, develop a plan of action. An action plan flips the script from “what if something will happen” and converts the statement into an action to cancel out spiralation.
- For example, let’s say you have a habit of jumping out of bed in the middle of the night. Every awakening your mind signals you check if the front door is locked. *ALERT* your mind is now almost fully awakened since its assuming a potential threat. You may proceed to check if the door is locked, and as you return to your comfortable bed write down on a piece of paper you have completed the task of checking if the door is locked. *AMYGDALA SHUT DOWN* The next time you wake up in the middle of the night with a panic, roll over to the side of the bed to read that you’ve already completed the task of checking if the door was locked, instead of physically removing yourself from bed. This is called a negative reinforcement. *AMYGDALA SHUT DOWN*
Rumination is a psychologically taxing habit. If you attempt to consistently maintain a plan of action and flip your script rumination will seize. Power to you!