Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.
Animals that ruminate are called, not surprisingly, ruminants. They include cows, sheep, deer, camels, llamas, and more. To ruminate, for these animals, is to chew the wad of grass, swallow it, bring it back up, chew it some more, swallow it again, repeat. Repeat. Repeat. At some point, there is simply nothing more to be gained from chewing that same cud over and over again.
People, too, often ruminate. It’s not a cud that we chew. Instead it is thoughts that we bring up over and over again, running them through our minds endlessly, long after we’ve squeezed every bit of good from that thought.
Ruminating isn’t good for people. It causes anxiety, doubt, and depression. I can’t begin to tell you how many people come to my office because they are exhausted from endless rumination. Usually, they’re trying to think up a “fix” for something that they simply can’t fix. Often, it’s not their job to fix it. However, they can’t leave it alone, and they hope that some idea will magically pop into their heads that will save the day. Rarely does that happen.
Frequently, parents are guilty of rumination over their children. The mental rumination becomes verbal, and the kids tune out. They’re not hearing a word. It’s far better to say it once, set boundaries and consequences the parents are willing and able to carry out, and then just shut up. It doesn’t take a child long to figure out they’d better pay attention the first time.
So how do you know if you’re mentally and verbally ruminating? Here are some clues. If you catch yourself saying things like this, you’re probably ruminating:
“How many times do I have to TELL you. . . .”
“Okay, if I have to say it one more time. . . .”
“I’m going to count to three. . . “
“I’m so tired of hearing my own voice. . . .”
I was at the grocery store the other day, and I heard a mom count to three about ten times. The only way that little ritual works is when the parent is able and willing to follow through on the promised consequence. If you keep saying “One more time” you’ve lost the battle and the war.
Rumination leads to depression. No one can run the same negative tape all day long every single day without falling into some degree of depression. Learn to stop the ruminant thought and replace it with something better. For me, scripture is the cure. Or a hymn that I love. Or a conversation with a positive, uplifting friend.
Ruminating, for us, is more harmful than it is helpful. Stop it.