Do you ever find yourself mentally replaying the same devastating thoughts? Many of us do, it’s called rumination, and it can make you miserable. We all have moments of depression, fear, and pain. These emotions can help us grow if we allow them to. However, once and awhile for some people the memories become caught in a loop. We replay them over and over without learning from them. When that happens, we don’t grow, we become stuck in our past. Below are some suggestions from an author who has lived in this thought process too long and how she became “unstuck”. For persons wanting to know more the book is called “Live Free” and is available on Kindle. The following practices has helped the author to break the pattern and learn to grow.
Practice One: This exercise is related to meditation but is much shorter. Get comfortable and for 10 seconds don’t think. That’s right, don’t think. If you find, the self-talk coming back just take a deep breath and push the thought away. When you first start this practice may be very different but in time it will become easier. If you wish as you get better, you can add more time to this exercise.
Just remember that rumination can be addictive. Our brains insist that we revisit the trauma and feel the emotions over and over. This method will help you break that cycle and reset the mind.
Practice Two: Part of the problem for those who ruminate is that their minds have become stuck in the past. It sometimes has more reality than the present. While dreaming of the type of future you want can be beneficial it can never happen without the present. So set aside some time today and just be. Notice the sounds and air around you. Connect with your world. Feel your body as it is here and now. This mindfulness exercise can reconnect to the present and your place in it. It clears the past from the brain and allows you to reconnect with the world and people around you.
Practice Three: This practice comes from Nathan Solace and has been used successfully by the author of the book. We can control our thoughts, they just seem to happen. It doesn’t have to be that way. Stop for a moment and think of a word, any word will work. Let’s take the word Dolphin, now in your head just shout that word and see what happens. Odds are you can picture dolphins in your mind. Go ahead a try it. You have just broken the loop. You may during the day, but that’s OK. Do it as often as you need until you can guide your mind away from the traumatic thought and back to where you want it to be. This practice also works on bad days when that last little thing has you upset. Just shout your word and reprogram your brain back to where it needs to be.
Practice Four: Some of our difficulty is that we just let our minds wander where they will. This is a good way to let traumatic thoughts and negative self-talk into your mind. Instead, try to concentrate on what you are doing at that moment or the next. I don’t mean to think of the future just the next moment. Perhaps you have a couple of blocks to your car. Instead just letting your mind wander think about your surroundings, the people, and scenery or think about where you need to go next. If you have problems controlling the thoughts, then stop and concentrate on something you need to do. Make up a list in your mind, or even make up a story about the little boy you just walked by as he plays. This practice will help you break the loop and make you more aware of the world around you.
Practice 5: In this practice, you become a witness to your life. When bad thoughts emerge, just step back and remind you that the past traumas are not who you are. They happened to you, but they are not you. You are a witness to the events, you know they happened but they simply belong to another time and the person you were then. By using this method, you put the past where it belongs, behind you. This practice will help you separate the past from the present. You have grown and changed; that other person lived a long time ago.
Use these practice to help you break the loop and learn to live today so that you can create a better tomorrow. Just remember that you are not alone. This problem is common, especially with people who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I know, I have the disorder, and I can tell you that the above practices help keep the past where it belongs.