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Readers Respond: Do You Ruminate? What About, and How Do You Stop?

Responses: 54


Updated October 05, 2009

Many people ruminate from time to time. Whether it's a disagreement with a spouse, a situation at work that seems unfair, or circumstances in life that plague our thoughts, people have the tendency to ruminate--to negatively obsess--about many different topics. (In fact, according to a poll on this site, roughly 95% of my readers ruminate often, or at least from time to time.) Do you ruminate? What topics do you seem to ruminate about? What helps you stop the rumination? Share your thoughts, and see what other readers have to say!

As far as I can remember

My recent break with my girlfriend got me to do some research on why I think so much. Thats when I came across Rumination. I could never figure out why I would take one situation and run it thru my mind all day. I thought it was just trust issues because of everything ive seen in my life. Parents, friends, neighbors etc... I remember when I was a freshman in hs when I found that my girlfriend had kissed another boy. My mind went absolutely crazy. It created so many other things that they did and nothing was going to prove my thoughts wrong. Well same with my most recent girlfriend. She got a text from an ex and my mind started to wander. To the point that they were rekindling. It didnt happen of course but because of what my mind created, it caused tension between us. I'm glad I came to this point where I can now recognize what I'm doing and find ways of coping with these bad ugly thoughts. Joining a gym. All of these responses have really opened my eyes to new ideas. Thank you all!

There is real hope

I did a search on 'how to clear my mind of other thoughts' and eventually ended up here. Until now I had never heard of the word 'rumination'. Being able to label the condition and getting an understanding of it has brought me some peace and has given me hope that I can take steps to break out of this vicious cycle. I've probably been ruminating most of my life but the cycle I'm in now has probably been going on for at least 6-years and I've noticed over time it's gotten worse. The things I ruminate about are just silly things that have never happened. A few months ago I realized that for the longest time I could no longer clear my mind and mentally escape so that I could do something simple like live in the moment of enjoying a favorite song. I want that back. Those were much happier times for me. I'm tired of my crappy, negative attitude, it has adversely affected my life. My plan to deal with this is to start meditating, start journaling, and do something artistic like coloring.
—Guest Michael

Killer Rumination

My boyfriend broke up w/me 5 months ago for another woman and I can't stop thinking about it. I have been in and out of psyche wards and can't work because of the percieved trauma. I am starting to get ahold of it now, and am able to push the thoughts away sometimes, but they still occur. The only thing that works right now is to consciously push them out. All I can think about is what I did wrong. It's very painful and self-destructive. I wish I could stop, but hopefully as time goes on the memories wil lessen.
—Guest Cynthee

Answering Back

Hi people!! It's a nice feeling to find out that I'm not alone in this :) Sometimes when someone teases me or says something rotten about me, I kinda ignore it...but it feels as if I've let the other person get away with it and I start feeling inferior about myself...I keep ruminating the entire conversations over and over again; it's killing my mind. What can i do to feel confident again??
—Guest ronnie

The Impaler

Couldn't have said it better myself. Beautifully said.
—Guest kristin

Been There

I have been dealing with obsessive-worry thoughts for the last 10 years and now I have found a name for it. Wow - can't believe I have wondered all this time what is wrong with me and now I have found it.
—Guest kristin

Art Helps

Going over past events and past conflicts in your head is so hard to stop, it becomes a very negative way of thinking of which we begin to think is reality and react to people in a hostile way. For me, the only thing that gives me peace is painting, drawing, or just colouring in with crayons calms the inner voice.
—Guest Jasper

Been There Done That

I ruminate virtually everything. Past social encounters, work, new opportunities. It is for the largest part debilitating. Lead to peptic ulcers. I see some people say prayer, faith; well I grew up in a religious family, I prayed a lot, asked for wisdom and insight, asked God to take control of my life. Lately I wonder if God exists. I've been through hell with psichiatric treatment for depression and bipolar. Cost a fortune to learn that psichiatry is very much a pseudo science. Even the most referenced and applauded ones are somewhat clueless. It remains that one shrink's opinion will differ from another as if it is just another philosophy. Physical exercise like jogging and yoga, I found, gives just more time to tumbledry the same thoughts. Next I'll try martial arts of some kind; it seems to require a lot of focus thus ruling out rumination and sometimes might provide the opportunity to hit the blazes out of someone who might see it as part of the sport.
—Guest myside

Bye Bye Paris

I was recently in a break up of 12 year relationship. I was about to propose when I found out about an affair. I came back to my home town and, although I was sure that is the right thing to do, I started ruminating about the past and I saw all the bad things that I did without considering the good. I contacted my ex begging to come back because, I ruminated, if I can think of these negative things then so can she! I destroyed the possibility of anything possibly happening in the future considering, in my view, we had a long history and that it might be salvageable. Now I found that I had a low level depression that would lift sometimes and that I always ruminated for most of my life. The only thing that helped was the gym, which also helps with the depression, self esteem and anxiety. I am starting zen meditation now but it really depends on the day if it helps. I am in the process of letting go especially now that I realized that she gave up on me because of an illness; talk about loyalty!
—Guest MrSensitive

Boyfriend's Ex

It's so funny that someone has already posted something on a boyfriend's ex. It was almost word-for-word my ruminating thoughts. I've looked at past conversations he has had with his ex and I think about what I've read constantly. I replay their entire conversation in my mind. I compare my relationship with him to how his relationship with her seemed to be. I convince myself that he is still in love with her and that I will never be able to match up. I picture them together, I can barely be around his family because I freak out, wondering if they liked her more and what-not. I constantly seek reassurance from him and it drives him nuts.
—Guest relationships2


Nothing is either good nor bad; only thinking makes it so. Also, conquer the symptoms by treating them with indifference.
—Guest tbaird


I ruminate about my children's childhood. How could I have done a better job? How could I have kept them away from others that I found out later hurt them? How could I have appreciated them more? My mind concentrates (like a terrible loop) on the negative while ignoring all the positive that I did with them and for them. They are now in high school and I feel that I have missed so much. I am a super mom now focusing on their every want and need to make up for the past when I didn't treasure them daily like I should have. Does anyone feel the same way? I've heard that lot of parents feel that time flew by and that they could have done more for their kids. Is this true? The only thing that gives me some peace (yet minimal) is when I challenge these thoughts. Like the people in my life, at the time, only hurt them once (neglect and yelling) when they were being babysat by that individual. I give solace in the fact that I made sure that it didn't happen again.

Chronic Ruminator

I'm so glad I found this now I know I am not alone. I was a chronic day dreamer as a child finding escape from bad things in thoughts that made me happy however that turned at some point as long as I can remember focusing and repeating conversations with people in my head until I was sure to find something wrong with the way I handled the conversation or situation. I would pick it apart in my brain. Now mid thirties I can't stop racing thoughts about what will be, was and what could of been. My main focus now... my husband's infidelity, since it came out 3 yrs ago I obsess over the affair, graphic thoughts of the two of them, how it happened, how I could of handled it differently and more. Now I also obsess about how he might still be cheating with about every female in his life even when it's unrealistic! No wonder years of therapy, medications and more haven't worked. It's not a chemical imbalance that meds will fix, it's my own thought pattern. Now if only I can find out how
—Guest Mary

It's Like A Tape Player!!!

Ok well I ruminate about my best friends ex-girlfriend. How stupidly pathetic is that? At first i couldn't give a crap about what happened in his past, until I uncovered that everything he ever told me about that relationship was a LIE! I then became obssessed with the idea that I was just a re-bound and that he was still in love with her...it became so obsessive that I would actually imagine entire conversation that he had had with her, him stroking her hair, making love to her. I would wake up in the morning and it would last all the way until I was exhausted, literally emotionally drained by the end of the day. I couldn't speak anyone, I could hardly socialize...because I felt this was disturbing my thoughts. It drove me INSANE. It led me to question him continuously, psychotically over his past again and again and again. The anxiety got so severe I could barely walk down or up stairs as my legs would shake so bad. I tried therapy, I tried Valium. ANTI DEPRESSANTS... it was my savior.
—Guest relationships

Past Conversations/Messages/Events

I have had this problem for many years. I find myself not being able to let go of things like conversations/things someone said to me/things I've said etc. It's not only negative things I have a hard time letting go of it's more often things like compliments I've had; it's as if i worry that i will never get any feel good comments from people again so I feel the need to remember and ruminate over the ones I've had. I find that when I am feeling depressed/anxious I begin ruminating over good thoughts from the past which then makes me feel anxious for not living in the moment and not being able to concentrate on daily activities. I've been thinking that it's some kind of ocd because i find myself getting anxious if I can't recall memories exactly. It is also dangerous because when I am driving etc I am in my own world, yet I can't snap out of my daydreaming.
—Guest Gd81

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