How to Stop Ruminating and Feeling Depressed About Your Life
So, you’ve been feeling a little crazy lately.
You just can’t seem to take your mind off your problems, and the harder you try to shut down your mind, the more it revs up. Pretty soon, you find yourself thinking about worrying about over thinking, which makes you feel even more like a lunatic.
If ruminating, obsessing, and worrying feels like a terribly compulsive habit to you, you’re not alone.
People who struggle with anxiety and depression frequently struggle with overthinking. However, according to research, anxious people who struggle with problems like rumination are actually more intelligent than the general population. So if your thoughts are out of control a little too often, you’re probably a highly intelligent person. While this piece of research doesn’t solve your problems, it can help you to understand why you’re so inclined to get dragged into thought.
What is Rumination?So what is rumination? Rumination can be defined as the habit of constantly identifying with thoughts that play over and over again in the mind, kind of like a broken record. The word “ruminate” comes from the Latin word for chewing cud which is the less-than-genteel habit of cattle which grind up, swallow, regurgitate, and then rechew their food. We’ll explore what “identifying with thoughts” means a little later.
If you want to learn how to stop ruminating, this article will share with you some tried and tested ways to calm your mind and find peace.
Why Do We Ruminate?
According to research, we ruminate for a number of reasons, including:
Types of RuminationDepending on your predisposition, rumination can be:
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According to one study published in 2008, rumination can be broken down into the following “flavors” (which can be either beneficial or harmful):
Why Exactly Does Ruminating Cause Us to Suffer?Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose. —Eckhart Tolle
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, rumination can be defined as the habit of constantly identifying with thoughts that play over and over again in the mind, kind of like a broken record.
But what does the “identifying with thoughts” bit mean?
The reason why ruminating causes us to suffer so much is that we believe in and attach ourselves to these thoughts, almost automatically.
However, if you have ever explored the origin of your thoughts, you would have discovered that thoughts simply arise from nowhere — they are completely spontaneous! Yet despite the fact that we don’t control our thoughts, we actually believe we are our thoughts.
Here’s a small experiment. Tell me, what will be the next thought in your brain, and the next, and the next, for the next 30 seconds? Can you honestly tell me what all your thoughts will be? No, of course you can’t. Any intelligent person would be able to see that they don’t know where their thoughts come from or what they will be. This, by the way, is why so many people are attracted to practicing meditation: meditation helps you to see that you are not actually your thoughts. Not only that, but you don’t actually have to believe the thoughts that enter your brain.
Did you read that?
You don’t have to believe every thought that enters your brain because they are random fluctuations of energy. YOU are the one that gives meaning to your thoughts and identifies with them. When you stop identifying them, you can see that your thoughts are just like heavy clouds that come and go. They mean no more about you than the weather does.
So if you are not your thoughts because you do not create them, and they are so transient and changeable, who or what are you? You are the space or conscious divine presence beneath your thoughts that observes everything. You can discover this for yourself: what has been with you since your birth that has not and cannot be changed? Your body, personality, DNA, name, gender, thoughts, and feelings can all change … but what remains unchanged?
The reason why ruminating causes us to suffer is because we haven’t found space within our thoughts to witness with clarity our own minds. Instead of seeing the whole ocean we get lost and tossed about in the waves of our thoughts.
In order to learn how to stop ruminating, we need to learn how to break the habit of believing that we are our thoughts.
How to Stop Ruminating and Feeling Miserable About Your Life
Mateo Sol is a prominent psychospiritual counselor and mentor whose work has influenced the lives of thousands of people worldwide. Born into a family with a history of drug addiction, schizophrenia, and mental illness, Mateo Sol was taught about the plight of the human condition from a young age. As a spiritual counselor and mentor, Sol’s mission is to help others experience freedom, wholeness, and peace in any stage of life. See more of his work at lonerwolf.com.
21 Signs You're Experiencing Soul Loss
“Soul loss is regarded as the most serious diagnosis and the single greatest cause of premature death and serious illness by the traditionals, and it’s not even mentioned in our Western medical textbooks.” — Deepak Chopra
In our society, there is a mysterious phenomenon occurring known as “Soul Loss” arising in all people of all ages, genders, races and backgrounds. Indigenous people have known about the occurrence of Soul Loss for millennia, and understand it as the result of an inner fragmentation caused by unawareness, a traumatic experience, or, an intense shock to the mind and body. When we experience Soul Loss, a part of our Soul – or living essence – ‘hides’ or shuts away, hindering us from expressing and experiencing our true potential and wholeness as human beings. Oftentimes entire aspects of our psyches are completely blocked out or repressed.
While for many of us Soul Loss may sound uncomfortably familiar, this experience is usually temporary, and with the proper Soul Work these lost elements of ourselves can be reintegrated into our lives.
What is Soul Loss?During my introduction to shamanism and the methods of ritualistic ‘soul retrieval‘, the basic understanding of Soul Loss that was expressed was that parts of our souls travel off into other realms, or alternate realities, sometimes being possessed by spirits. In the shamanistic perspective, when these parts of our souls are not recovered, we can’t seem to find inner completion or wholeness.
Before psychology, this explanation was the only way primal cultures could explain such a common phenomenon in order to find ways to treat it – and it was immensely effective.
Soul loss is in fact the rule rather than the exception. As individuals, unless we have become Awakened Souls we lose our soulful energy every time we identify with our egos; every time we seek to feel whole through addictions, stimulation seeking, dogmatic beliefs, conditional relationships, and workaholism.
Aside from our incapacity to feel whole, when we experience Soul Loss we begin experiencing feelings of weakness, fatigue, depression, anxiety and emptiness. We just know something is missing from our lives – but many of us struggle to discover what exactly is missing. To understand Soul Loss as a loss, or disconnection, from the most vital parts of who we are, is known in psychology as ‘dissociation‘ – a root of many mental maladies.
The Psychology Behind Soul LossOnce we recognize our souls (or consciousness) as an intensity of energy – anything that creates a reduction in this energy will result in listlessness, moroseness, and depression.
To create an imbalance within the psyche is to allow the individual parts of the personality (e.g. the shadow self, anima, animus, etc.) to make themselves independent and thus escape the control of the conscious mind.
Psychologist Carl Jung understood this process as relating to our ‘psychic libido‘. Jung proposed that our psychological personalities were composed of different ‘complexes’ (or parts of our sense of self), and the primary one of those responsible for control over all the others was our ‘ego’ which is the mental image we have of ourselves, or what we believe ourselves to be. Our conscious energy can be weakened due to one of these ‘complexes’ escaping the control of our ego and becoming autonomous, therefore leeching all of our ‘psychic libido’ energy and creating a psychological imbalance that shatters our natural wholeness.
So what causes one of our psychological ‘complexes’ to emancipate itself and become a tyrannical usurper of consciousness? Often the answer is that identifying with something harmful, or experiencing a trauma of some kind creates this phenomenon.
An extreme example might help explain better:
Imagine that a young child is molested or abused. In order to cope with the horrendous experience, the child escapes by disassociating, or detaching themselves, from the situation. In the process of protecting themselves, the child creates various alter ego’s, or entirely different personalities within themselves as a defense mechanism.
In psychology, this is treated as “multiple personality disorder” (now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder). It is easy to understand how tribal cultures would have perceived this as a loss of the Soul. But essentially, psychological disassociation is nature’s way of protecting our physical organism against intense trauma and loss by blocking these wounding situations out. In the end however, it is our responsibility to protect our spiritual organism, our soul.
But Soul Loss, or psychological disassociation, is not limited to these extreme cases and can be found in different degrees in most people. Addictions, eating disorders, identity disorders, post traumatic stress, depression, codependency, narcissism, low self-esteem, and adjustment disorders are all common causes for Soul Loss in our superficial, fast-paced, materialistic modern societies that are mostly devoid of all sense of sacredness.
A young woman who dreams of being an artist but has to live up to her parent’s expectations of being a doctor will lose a little bit of her soul, ignoring an essential part of her being. Or suppose the young woman does go ahead and follows her dream of being an artist, but deep down she still depends on her parent’s approval. She then either blames them to avoid taking responsibility for pursuing her passion, or she grows low in self-esteem because she is not accepted by them. This story might sound familiar to you.
Fortunately there are many ways of finding wholeness again. A lot of the material Luna and I write for LonerWolf is a form of ‘Soul Retrieval’, where we help you to become aware of aspects within yourself that you may have been ignoring. We do this by encouraging the development of authenticity, for self-exploration, self-love and self-transformation.
Next, you will be able to apply this knowledge of Soul Loss to yourself. Are you experiencing it?
Signs You Might Be Experiencing Soul LossThere are a variety of physical, psychological and spiritual symptoms pertaining to Soul Loss. When we experience Soul Loss – or parts of our soul ‘hiding away’ or disassociating from us – the result is a loss in soulful energy, or the very vitality of our lives. This loss of energy prevents us from living healthy, fulfilling and creative lives. Sometimes Soul Loss can last for a whole lifetime, resulting in the development of a self-destructive person who we often refer to as a “Lost Soul” in our language.
To recover these lost parts of ourselves, and to become balanced, whole and centered once again, we must first identify the symptoms of Soul Loss within us. Below you will find some of the most common symptoms: