rumination – good or bad

There are certain thoughts I have that feel unproductive. Not that every thought I have needs to be properly productive. But rumination – as some doctors have called it – just feels bad. It feels bad for me to be thinking about the same things over and over. I know they are just thoughts. And thoughts are just thoughts – meaning I can let them sit. I can give them space. I can let them marinate in their own place. But they are really just thoughts. Saying this – and at least writing it – feels empowering at the minimum. Last year, I had a lot of change. More change than I have had really in my life. And it happened all at once. I say a lot. It was a lot to me. But sometimes I remember that people go through a whole lot more. People really are dealt bad cards in life. It’s not their fault. I mean I like to convince myself that things are my fault. That as an individual I do have agency. But alas. I don’t blame all the people. People are dealt bad cards and it is really just bad luck. They are born perhaps in a bad place. And yeah they go through real shit. My stuff. My change. It was cosmetic in comparison. I was so lost in my own head. So damn frozen in my own head. So stuck. I could not see the reality. I could not zoom out. And breathe. And take everything more lightly. Even now it’s hard at times. Sometimes I get stuck in these anxious fits. These times where I am so so concentrated on one or two ideas or things or feelings. And I cannot get off of them. That’s perhaps why I run. Or lift weights. It is not why. But it’s one reason I do. Because those things distract my body enough and give me something to focus on such that I feel – I feel really present in the moment. And so I started this talking about ruminating thoughts – I woke up with one this morning, this compulsive ish urge to just like think about past things that I know I cannot change. But now…now I have thought about it…and guess what…the world has not changed. Nothing has changed, really, since I thought about said things. Again, proving how unproductive it is. I know this. Yet I still do it.

And so, I came to write.

I am hearing about more and more people getting interested in writing. More people want to write than used to – more people are talking about the benefits of writing. And I mean. I agree. I have been daily writing for such a long while now. It feels like part of me. It feels like a core part of my practice and identity and something I really think I care about.

I had second thoughts recently. I wondered if there was such a thing as writing too much. If writing too much was actually a corruption tool. Corruption of my brain. Making me overthink things. Perhaps be overly anxious about things. Perhaps I could see with too much sensitivity at least on particular topics – and perhaps that hurt me.

When I get nervous, I actually like to turn to writing. Writing helps me sort things out. At least most of the time. Sometimes the arc is not so straightforward. Sometimes it is more like heading to the arena to directly fight the boss battle. Sometimes that is scary. Sometimes, well often really, when I write I am facing the emotions head on. The ruminating thoughts. As opposed to letting them sit. But then I write and open the gates of ideas and just let them run. They are going to run anyways. It is either in my head or out of my head onto this page. And once I give them distance. And space. Well they wither and go away. It really is a miraculous thing. At least to me. This power of language. The power the words have to actually control your body. Weird how that works. Simple ideas. Captured in words. Have the ability to literally drive your actions. The brain mind body connection thing. That thing. Wow that thing can be really influential and impactful on your life. Getting a grip as to how yours work – how all of this *stuff* just connects. That can be really important.

I get trapped thinking about the past at times. And then I over-compensate by trying to do more and more in the future. As a way to make up for it. That does not necessarily give me peace, though, with the past. The past is the past, and I feel that I should just be able to accept it.

What genuinely does help me – and it sounds so weird to say and honestly I feel weird about doing it – is just thinking about death. Thinking that one day we’re going to die. Thinking that one day, it’ll all be over. And any thoughts we have. Any fears we have seared into us. Any of that stuff. Well it will just be gone. It will just miraculously go away. And wow. That hits differently. That makes all this life we live just feel…different.

Like why don’t we go for it more? Why don’t we just…make this life count. We literally only have one. Why not pick the more entertaining one?

I pair this idea with a new idea I just thought about – has anyone ever written about the benefits of rumination? I just went on a bit of a rant above talking about all the negatives of ruminating. Of obsessively and unproductively worrying. This is perhaps a derivative of the psychologists’ view of the formal concept of rumination. Inherent in the definition is the word unproductivity. That this thinking is default unproductive. I wonder if rumination has a neighbor or cousin or whatever that is basically obsession as a good thing. Caring about something, as a good thing. Sure it may hurt and be hard. But maybe…maybe that is enough motivation for something to matter. Maybe that is enough motivation to actually get things done.

I think there is a lot that could one day be written about the positive benefits of what some people today would describe as negative traits. This is one of them, but there are many.


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