Does your mind ever get stuck?
Repeatedly thinking about painful, emotionally negative experiences is significantly unhealthy for many reasons:
It's like picking at scabs and never letting them heal. Pick, scab, pick, scab ad nauseum. Kept up long enough and it not only becomes a habit but also forms a scar. Of course infection can occur as well.
- Increases likelihood of depression by intensifying and prolonging sadness and anger
- Increases risk for substance / activity abuse (-holisms and disorders).
- Fosters negative thinking and attitudes and diminishes problem solving.
- Elevates stress responses and risk for cardiovascular disease.
- Repeated, prolonged discussions and expressions put excessive burden on relationships.
- Inhibits positive and productive motivation, initiative, and focus.
We want to disrupt the cycle as well as address the root cause of the rumination.
How might we do that?
For more examples and deeper explanations, pick up a copy of Emotional First Aid by Guy Winch.
- Engage in tasks / activities that will demand your attention
- moderate to intense cardiovascular activity
- puzzles, ie. sudoku, jigsaw
- computer games
- mental exercises, ie. envisioning a project (home improvement/ work-related)
- test them out to see which one is most effective at various times and places.
- Enlarge your perspective
- See yourself in 3rd person to gain new insights and resolve
- Close your eyes, imagine the scene; zoom out as events unfold
- Follow the event from beginning to end.
- Ask why instead of how; seek to understand multiple paths to action (others and yours).
- Reframe anger
- Change the meaning of events to an understanding that makes the event less infuriating.
- Find the positive intention in your offender.
- Identify the opportunities (for growth, change, improvement)
- Embrace the learning moment: View negative situations as strategic puzzles (of ourselves) that require creative solutions (to fortify and mature us)
- View the offending person / hurtful event with a larger, deeper contextual perspective.
- A new resolve that redeems [what saddened, disappointed, or victimized you] to spur you in a new direction; a shift in mindset that changes your attitude towards your challenges; changing what you perceived as destructive to actually being helpful.
Gaining control over emotional scab-picking is essential for ongoing maturation, be it personal, professional, or organizational (families, corporations, non-profits, etc). Emotional hygiene is a keystone that mustn't be overlooked, so is physical strength training but we'll save that for another time.
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