This involves seeking out new or additional information that adds to or changes the current view of the self or the environment. In the above situation, Jeffrey might inquire as to how much it would cost to repair the damage and when the repair shop would be available to do so. This would help Jeffrey see his culpability from an accurate perspective and understand what is necessary to correct his error. Knowing what he needs to do to make it OK with his father could provide some relief.
Optimal introspection is often achieved through the application of multiple techniques at the same time. Any activity that shines new light on your situation should be considered introspective.
Rumination – Unhealthy thinking technique
Rumination is a process of reviewing thoughts and information repetitively. Thinking about yourself or a situation in the same way over and over again will not likely yield a different result. Rather it is likely to create frustration and a sense of helplessness and hopelessness that will increase your stress. Here are some examples of how Jeffrey might ruminate:
- “I shouldn’t have taken the car. What a fool I am.”
- “He will kill me when he finds out.”
- “I hate being controlled by my parents.”
- “My friends will think I am a jerk.”
Ruminating over thoughts like the ones above will only cause Jeffrey frustration, which will increase his stress. The frustration causes stress and associated discomfort while also making him feel helpless to improve his circumstances. He is stuck reviewing the same material over and over again with no progress.
Defeating rumination begins with identifying it and differentiating it from healthy introspection. When thinking about your difficulties increases your stress, chances are you are ruminating. Refocus your thinking toward the processes of introspection, such as the ones described above. Try to be flexible in your thinking, as you are trying to see things differently from the way they first appear to you.
Refocusing your attention will initially require a lot of effort. As you become more comfortable with introspection, it will become more natural and less effortful. At the same time, your stress levels should decrease as you minimize rumination. It will give you a greater sense of control over your life.