Rumination is often considered as an offspring of rigid thinking and blame. These thought patterns are closely involved in the generation of negative thoughts, stress, anxiety, and depression. This is why you need to learn to stop ruminating and rigid thoughts when you hit rock bottom.
Rigid thinking, blame & rumination
Negative thoughts, powered by rigid thinking & blame, are a predictor of anxiety and depression, making us feel burnt out, exhausted and empty. Rigid thinking or mental rigidity is our inability to generate or accept a different perspective or emotions. It is characterized by refusal to acknowledge someone else’s viewpoints, lack of empathy, a strong sense of compulsion to do things in specific ways, and a need for predictability. It prevents us from appreciating alternative approaches or solutions to a problem. Rigid thinkers strongly hold on to generalizations & preconceptions and have high expectations that are usually left unmet. They are highly inflexible, have difficulty with changing old habits, thought patterns, and attitudes, have a strong need for perseveration through repetitive words & gestures, and become hostile or scared when facing unexpected obstacles or changes. In essence, rigid thinking is an inability to change. Unfortunately, the only constant in life changes. Hence, rigid thinkers frequently experience stress and anxiety which pave the way to the onset of different mental health problems, such as obsessive-compulsive and schizophrenic behaviors.
Blame is often regarded as a coping mechanism to deal with difficult and painful situations and emotions. Although self-blame can sometimes motivate us to improve ourselves through reflection, in the long run, irrational blame can result in serious mental health issues. Blame can make us falsely believe that we are not worthy and we are responsible for everything. It can poison our minds and keep us from moving ahead and living a better life. It is a damaging feeling that stops you from being productive and doesn’t allow you to heal. Studies have found that self-blaming emotions can lead to feelings of hopelessness, inadequacy, decreased self-worth, and depressed mood.
Both rigid thought patterns and self-blame lead to rumination, which is a psychological construct involving conscious, recurrent thoughts on a specific topic. “Rumination is a form of perseverative cognition that focuses on negative content, generally past and present, and results in emotional distress,” explains a study. When we have rigid thoughts and are unable to consider other perspectives, we become trapped within our preconceived notions and ideas about what and how life should be. Sadly, life always has its own plans regardless of how much you plan and prepare for it. So when faced with situations, challenges, failures, or opportunities that you didn’t expect, you feel unprepared, afraid, and disappointed. You may start believing that you are incompetent and unworthy or coping with life. This is where the blame seeps in. You believe your life is a chaotic mess because nothing is going according to your thoughts and beliefs. You feel anxious, stressed, guilty, and useless… all thanks to overthinking and rumination. But as you think only about the problems and not the solutions, you simply punish yourself psychologically.
Rumination & mental health
Rigid thinking, blame, and rumination can affect our mental health adversely, impair our thinking and lead to negative emotions. Research shows that unconstructive repetitive & rigid thoughts can not only result in the development of psychiatric disorders, but it can also affect our physical health. When we ruminate, we focus on our problems, their probable causes, and consequences, instead of possible solutions. It is a process of thinking about the same intrusive, negatively-tinted thoughts repeatedly and continuously. It is considered a silent cause for psychological conditions, such as anxiety, neuroticism, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and depression. It can also impair our cognitive abilities to think & process feelings.
Research reveals that rumination is associated with affective disorders, memory control deficits, impaired suppression-induced forgetting, inhibitory control deficits in attention tasks, depression, and suicidal thoughts. “Rumination has been widely studied and is a crucial component in the study of cognitive vulnerabilities to depression,” states a 2008 study. As ruminative thoughts primarily have a negative tone, the persistence of such thoughts results in depression, believe researchers. One 2016 study has also found that rumination is related to “abnormalities in neural networks associated with emotional regulation and executive functioning,” along with internalizing disorders in adolescents. The study found that such negative and intrusive thought patterns “not only amplifies levels of distress and suicidal ideation but also extends physiological responses to stress, which may partly explain the high prevalence of physical and mental co-morbidity in youth.”