How rumination and rigid thinking affects us
Rumination and rigid thoughts can affect our mindset which can directly impact our lives. For instance, we all have certain ideas about what a committed, lasting relationship should be like with the right person. Whether we have learned from our parents, neighbors, relatives, or movies, we have this belief that a relationship with the “right” person or our “soulmate” will be magical. We believe that it will be a loving, caring relationship filled with happy experiences, memories, vacations, parties, and endless, unconditional love. We believe that we will raise the perfect children and live happily ever after. But rarely do real-life relationships turn out like that.
The basic problem with that belief is that we do not consider the real problems that will eventually crop up in our relationship. Firstly, there is no such thing as a “perfect” relationship. Secondly, relationships require constant work, compromise, adjustment, and sacrifices. You need to love yourself as much as you love the other person. You need to constantly express your love for your partner and show them how much you love them years after you get married. You need to learn how to manage conflicts in a healthy way, listen to your partner, understand their emotions, be empathetic, avoid being complacent, and take responsibility for making the relationship work. Relationships don’t come with any guarantees.
Yet as you have grown up believing that a relationship with the right person will be perfect, your mind fails to make provisions for the umpteen relationship challenges that you are bound to face. Your mind starts to believe that any sign of problems or difficulties in a relationship is toxic, abusive, and bad for your mental & emotional health. So when you are in a “real” relationship, your mind finds it unacceptable & painful. The relationship is not what you expected it to be and that makes you unhappy. You feel empty, depressed and blame yourself and your partner for the failure of your relationship. However, the fact is you have let your relationship fail due to your own unrealistic expectations. Your thoughts and beliefs about an ideal relationship have let you down.
This is what rigid thinking does to you. The more you get entrapped in your preconceived beliefs, the more you blame yourself and others and the more you think about all the negative experiences. You keep yourself from being happy in the relationship and when you realize that, you blame yourself, leading to the onset of depression. But you are not the one to blame here. The problem is not with you. The problem is with your inability to have a flexible mindset, accept other perspectives, and see a relationship for what it is – a complicated yet rewarding experience. And to reach there, you need to change your thought patterns and prevent rumination.
Ways to deal with rigid thinking, blame & rumination
If you are suffering from the consequences of such negative thought patterns, then there are certain strategies that can help you overcome them and develop a more positive and healthier mindset and attitude. Here are a few ways to deal with rigid thinking, blame & rumination –
1. Identify and avoid triggers
Rumination is often triggered by our fears, anxieties, and insecurities. Intrusive & negative thoughts often occur due to specific stressors like fear of failure or losing a loved one, recent traumatic experiences, low self-esteem, an upcoming stressful event, low self-esteem, perfectionism, facing fears & phobias, etc. In order to change your rigid beliefs and tendency to ruminate, you need to identify and manage your personal triggers and associated factors that lead to such thought patterns. If possible, restrict access to such triggers as long as they don’t affect your quality of life.
2. Change your mindset
Removing or changing strongly-held damaging beliefs that you have been harboring for a long time is undoubtedly challenging. However, in order to stop ruminating all the time and being imprisoned in your rigid thinking patterns & blame, you need to find ways to develop realistic optimism and adapt your beliefs. Learn to replace your negative thoughts with natural, positive thoughts. You can start the process by identifying your thought patterns, accept that it is something you need to change, recognize what changes you want to make, and develop behaviors that can help to accomplish your new goals.