I had dinner with a friend recently and a couple of things were said that just didn’t sit right at the time. You know that feeling where your gut reacts and you know you have to breathe before you even consider speaking. I knew that I needed to go and away and process what I was thinking before I decided what to do, with how I was feeling. And let me tell you, I did years and years of acting out how I was feeling in the moment and most of the time it did not serve me well.
Well man oh man did I milk the hell out of that conversation in my head. I thought about every possibility of why my friend acted the way they did from childhood issues, to perhaps they are just exhausted, not self-aware, just plain selfish, to perhaps I am overreacting, to it’s all my stuff and how I need to take a good look at myself and stop being so hard, back to …they need to learn about the impact of how they connect and then back to me and what a judgmental friend I am.
I seriously let this conversation, and all the potential reasons for it, regurgitate over and over again in my head for way, way to long. Then of course what happens…. It becomes a THING. Because I have spent so much time thinking on the same possibilities over and over and over again it’s all consuming. I bet you’re thinking… you teach this stuff Georgia. What are you doing? Yes I went there as well.
So I know why this was a very unhealthy process. I call it ‘ruminating all over yourself’. It’s not pretty and it’s not helpful. There actually is a condition called ‘Rumination Syndrome’ which is a medical condition described as ‘the effortless regurgitation of meals after consumption’. I have taken artistic license and will use it in this context and suggest it is ‘the effortless regurgitation of thoughts after a conversation or situation’. And let me tell you people – this is dangerous ground.
One average we have 50,000 thoughts per day. 95% of them are repeated (regurgitated) and 80% of them are negative. We ruminate on the same thoughts over and over and most of them are detrimental to ourselves, our relationships and how we ultimately connect with others. We tend to fester on things that are often not even correct. They are mostly based on our feelings and opinions and speculations – not on the facts.
For many of us, the person we trust the most in our world is…. ourselves. So if this is the case and we ruminate on mostly negative thoughts then what happens when we speak negatively, punish or talk down to ourselves? Or what happens to those we connect with?
Yes we can get lost in anxiety, frustration, blame, resentment. We might lose our confidence, kill our self-esteem or end up in the wrong places or even the wrong conversations because we let things fester.
Practicing the process of killing the ANTS is a good start. ANTS = Automatic Negative Thoughts. They will come, whether you meditate, yoga or busy yourself stupid. You have no choice. But you do have a choice of accepting them and ruminating all over yourself or to kill the ANTS.
Which will you choose?