2 Aug, 2022

How to Stop Ruminating and Start Living



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“Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

Rumination pertains to how cows and other ruminants chew and digest their food. It also refers to how humans brood on negative thoughts. Ruminating, overthinking, or dwelling on negative thoughts will only hinder us from being the person we want to become.

How long have you been ruminating? What opportunities and how much time have you lost dwelling on these negativities? Will you have a healthier, wealthier life, and have better relationships with the people around you if you keep ruminating?

Listen to today’s episode and let me give you some insights on how you can stop ruminating to have a much better life.


⚡️ Ruminating is different from reflecting. Reflecting is to get a better understanding of             things.

⚡️ Ruminating leads to depression and anxiety.

⚡️ Ruminating comes from fear of expressing one’s feelings and thoughts.

⚡️ Stop Ruminating: Live a life worth living

  • Be aware
  • Look from different points of view
  • Focus on being grateful and other positive things
  • Know who you want to become, develop an action plan, then act
  • Have people you can lean on
  • Choose to love instead of fear

Important stories:

🎯 00:36 Douglas Bloch defines rumination

🎯 04:14 Dr. Tracey Marks discusses the default mode network of the brain and rumination

🎯 11:10 Studies on the mentality that I came across

🎯 15:32 Mladen Sormaz’s on cycles of thought and rumination

🎯 17:40 Story of Jimmy Savile

🎯 24:01 My coach’s observation on how Indigenous people convene

Send us a message and tell us what is your biggest takeaway about this episode. 👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼


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About Pete Cohen: Pete Cohen is one of the world’s leading life coaches and keynote speakers. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world have been motivated and inspired by Pete’s presentations. He has professionally impacted the lives of thousands of people worldwide, including business executives, professional athletes, and everyday people.  Pete focuses on the importance of closing the gap in our lives between where we are and where we want to be, both personally and professionally.

It’s then all about coaching you to remove the obstacles that are in your way and helping you install the habits of success.

Pete is the author of 20 published books, several of which have been best-sellers across the world, including Shut the Duck Up, Habit Busting, Life DIY, and Sort Your Life Out. He has also presented his own show on TV called The Coach and was the resident Life Coach on GMTV for 12 years.

Pete Cohen 0:00
Happy beautiful amazing day. It's Pete Cohen. It's the Future Self podcast. Today's podcast is called How to Stop Ruminating and Start Living. I'll see you after the theme tune.

Speaker 6:21
greater things that are expecting some the great thing for the spectrum from my Hey, have you ever heard the term rumination, rumination or ruminating something a cow does when it chews its food over and over again. We depressives are very much like house and that we don't chew our food over and over again. But we choose our thoughts over and over again. We ruminate on our thoughts and most of these thoughts are negative. For example, have you ever caught yourself thinking about the same thing over and over and over again? It could be the breakup of a marriage or a job loss or a bad investment. You made them one south, just chewing these things in your mind over and over again, digs you deeper into a hole it actually reinforces circuits in your brain that are negative and makes you hard to get out of that hole that you dug for yourself by chewing over those thoughts again and again. And again.

Pete Cohen 7:30
So thank you for Douglas block talking to us. Then Douglas is a depression counselor, and I really love his definition of ruminating and that's what we're going to be talking about today in the podcast. So I first came across that word, but really didn't pay much attention to it. But I love words I love to think where does that word come from? So we talk about what holds us back in life and I think most people know it's excuses. It's procrastinating. It's ruminating, it's getting distracted. But the word ruminate, it really does come from what a cow does. And a cow has a number of different stomachs. And what it will do is eat it will eat grass and chew it in its mouth and then digest it into its stomach. And then some of it will be assimilated but some of it will throw it back up again and chew it some more. And just keep doing that and then when I first heard that that's what ruminating is. I just thought wow, how many of us, we actually do that? We go over and over and over things in our mind. And you know, getting to know yourself. Getting to Know Your mind is truly fascinating. I think it's one of the most incredible things that any human being will ever do. And from my experience in in terms of what we do, we're just interested in one thing we are interested in you we care about you every single person who listens to the podcast that we put out or YouTube or any of the lives that we do anywhere. We genuinely care about people. And we want people to be able to look at themselves. And be curious, be curious about the experience of being yourself. To not label it as right or wrong or good or bad. positive negative it just is. And it's our incredible ability to do something with what is that every single thought that we have. There's always a choice. And I can't even begin to tell you what I'm learning about myself right now. Like the learning that I'm going through right now is probably some of the most deepest, most challenging learning of my life. But I don't want to distract myself away from the experience of being myself. And I'm sure I'm not the only person in the world that has spent a large period of my life looking for something outside of myself. That was always going on inside me in the first place. But rather than running away from that, taking ownership of the experience of being myself, like I say, to be curious. So I want you to just to listen to Dr. Tracy marks talking about ruminating just have a listen to what she says. This is really fascinating

Speaker 10:18
is that the default mode network is the area of the brain that controls stimulus independent thought Said another way is that it's the area of your brain that controls what you're thinking when you're not actively focused on something. It's like background thought. Studies have shown that people are more unhappy when they spend a lot of time with their minds wandering. Functional MRI scans looking at brain activity show that the default mode network in your brain is more activated when you're ruminating. What's the difference between this and intrusive thoughts? intrusive thoughts are thoughts that pop into your mind when you don't want them to. And you're usually trying not to think about them, but they intrude and interrupt what you're thinking about. And this is different from rumination where you tend to settle into the thoughts and brood over them. You may not like them because they make you feel bad, but you're not working that hard to avoid them. And in some cases, you may even welcome them because some people feel like they need to think about these things.

Pete Cohen 11:23
What so, you know, this is really just interesting that we that we can listen to other people I think one of the most powerful things is to look at things from number of points of view. This is something that my coach who I worked with for 16 years and never forget he always said to me, Pete, it's not about right and wrong. It's about what is and what you do with what is what you're experiencing and then being able to look at anything from multiple points of view. You know, if you were standing in front of me and I was trying to be right, well, my right is actually your left. So when we can look at the world through other people's eyes, we then get an opportunity to look at the world differently. And that's what I would love everyone to do to have the opportunity to think about rumination from a different point of view of why we do it, how it affects our life, because it is one of the most interesting conversations that we're ever going to have. So to ruminate is really, it's not about reflecting reflecting isn't necessarily a bad thing. You know, when something happens and I think it's also something often people steer away from the ever heard that expression. lessons in life are repeated until they're learned. I mean, have you ever heard that expression? Do you think it's a good one? Are you the sort of person that repetitively find yourself in similar situations, similar scenarios in your life and you think I've been here before you know is the universe working in some way that's almost trying to teach you something or put the obstacle in your way for you to navigate around it or over it, to overcome it, so that you can then go on to something else that is even more challenging the thing that you went through before you know, if you look at your life right now, and look at it like a movie, this is the movie of your life, and and that's yours, and that's my movie. I can tell you about my movie in terms of what I'm looking to do in my film, which is the film of my life, which is being recorded right now. Is About Love is about being love giving love listening, inspiring. Helping people when they think about the future, they think about the future in a way where it excites them and they think you know what, this is who I want to be, I want to be this person. And it's not that they then would think that there's something wrong with themselves the way that they are. They're just striving to give more of what they have. And deep down I think that's a choice. Just like love is a choice and fear is a choice. But sometimes these things seem really hard to do. And when we look at our life, one of my friends who I was talking to yesterday, was talking about when you lean on somebody why you would lean on someone who you turn to when things are difficult. And it was talking about life being like the seasons, the seasons of your life and some seasons are more difficult to navigate through. And I find myself now in a situation that is extremely challenging, but at the same time, it's making me more aware of the makings of my mind. So ruminating is it's what a cow does, it's swollen, something it kind of digests a bit of it, then it brings it back up again and it keeps doing it. That's what a lot of people do. When we talk about reflection reflection is where you know, it's not about going over and over things. It's to see you want a better understanding of something reflecting I remember someone saying to me once that we don't learn from experience we learn from reflecting on it. But brooding is what some people might call ruminating what that's where there's a constant cycle of no negative thoughts, which often leads to people abusing themselves in other ways, which then leads to depression and anxiety. Because they want to get away from the negative thoughts. So ruminating really is when to dwelling on a failures focusing on negative feelings, outcomes.

Pete Cohen 15:48
And I'm sure that's something we've all done and I came across three studies that I just wanted to share with you that I just think is really, really interesting. And the point I'm trying to make here is about working, that there is work involved, if we want to change our ways and obviously the first way is just to become aware, to be curious and I think once your sometimes the bigger the problem, the more opportunity there is to be aware of the experience of being you and just like a doctor Tracy was sharing just there this default mechanism that is in our brain that I think is just looking out for problems. Looking out for trying to protect us stop us from getting hurt and maybe other people getting her. So if you looked at a glass right now I'm looking at a car I'm actually looking at a glass right now. And it is half what is it? Is it what is it half? What is it? Can you tell me? Half full half empty. And what's really interesting is that that half full mentality that people have people often like that it's because it's looking for, for the gain half empty mentality is one of loss that there's something missing. And there were three studies that I came across and one of them was a type they had two groups and they were told about a surgery. And then the people were told that with this surgery group one there's a 70% success rate with this surgery. And another group were told there's a 30% failure rate with this surgery. And what was really interesting was obviously the ones who's who saw a 30% failure. were less optimistic about having the surgery versus the people that 70% success rate. But then what they did with this study is they then told the people that the 70% success rate also had a 30% failure rate. They told them that and then they also told the group that and then that really affected that group, that group then when they thought oh wow, hang on a second. This is out. You told me it's got a 70% success rate. Now you're telling me it's got a 30% failure rate that massively affected their the way they felt about the surgery and the group that were told that it had a 30% failure rate. And then they were told it has a 70% success rate. It didn't have much bearing on changing the way that they thought because the thought had already been sewn and that fascinating. And then there was another study that was done about a governor in America. And one group was told that this governor had out of saved 40% of jobs and lost and then the other the other group were told that 60% of people lost their jobs. And again, it was the same thing that when this was turned round that when the fort when when they were told the first group that the governor saved 40% of jobs. And then they were told, well, actually he lost 60% of the jobs that then change their mindset. And the group that had initially been told that 60% jobs have been lost. And then they were told Yeah, but you say 40% Again, the thought had been sown. And I think what the point I'm trying to make here is that we have to maybe working hard is the wrong word. But it's definitely allowing those thoughts to come and letting them be rather than trying to fight your thoughts and fight yourself. So what do you ruminate on? You know, we live in a world where unless we change our perspective, our perspective tends to say the same I mean, it was the same with the with the crash of the economy, that if you look at the way people felt through that, it almost they went with it. In 2008 People went down to a feeling of feeling stuck and and less optimistic and even when the economy went right back up in 2011. I think from you know from the crash in 2008. I remember reading about the impact that this had on people that even though the economy rose people's pessimism, state stayed because the seed had been sown. And again, if you think about what's happened, you know, I think what a lot of us have been through in the last few years has been very, very difficult this massive impact of the virus than the impact of wearing masks and the impact of like fear and worry and people often don't really talk about how they're actually feeling and they tend to go over and over and over things. They don't want to reveal their vulnerability to people

Pete Cohen 20:42
and now if you think about what's going on in parts of the world where there's war again, you can imagine that there's this fear that is attached to expressing how you're thinking and how you're feeling. So just understand that you know, you're not alone. If you have thoughts that go over and over and over in your mind. But is the answer to run away from the thoughts to distract yourself from the thoughts? Well, again, there's some really interesting theories about that. And you know, what is the right way? What is the wrong way? What that's up to all of us as individuals to find out what what is the way that works? So this is a guy called Morden so Mazz who is a professor at the University of York just have a listen to what he says for a second, but the second

Speaker 21:30
part is spotting points for the rumination is happening so cycles of thought happening very frequently in between thought probes. At that point, you hit them with a thing that is a game. And it's something like Tetris works quite well, because it's really immersive. Studies have shown in the past that just three minutes is actually enough to sort of disrupt that emotional network that the brain is trying to talk to, because, you know, Tetris got nothing really directly to do with those networks.

Pete Cohen 21:52
And can I just say so, this was a study that they did, where they were just looking at how people were feeling and seeing when they were ruminating. And then this study evolved and they would encourage them when the when the dominant thoughts came to get them to engage in some form of activity, you know, again, and they found that they kept doing that they interrupted the pattern pattern enough. So what could you do when those thoughts come?

Pete Cohen 22:29
Could you distract yourself? Could you thank the thought for being there? What's really going on behind the scenes and this might seem a bit random, but on Netflix, I think it came out yesterday and I actually watched the first one. There's a two part documentary series about a guy called Jimmy Savile. Now, most people in the UK who grew up in the 70s and 80s grew up knowing who this person was, is extremely famous. was a DJ and also number of TV programs. One called Jim will fix it. Where you know, children wrote letters and adults for Jim to fix something you know, for someone to go meet the Queen or I don't know, fly to the moon, or something. Not that anyone did fly to the moon on GMO fix, and then he would arrange it. And he died a number of years ago, but then all these allegations came out and they were absolutely horrendous. They were absolutely so many things that were going on behind the scenes. And I when I watched this I was I watched it because I used to really watch we used to watch it every single week. This is someone who I really used to I used to do impressions of this person. And I just don't think people I think some people knew what was going on but people didn't want to speak up and these rumors were going around for a long, long, long time. And I wonder how many people went over and over the thoughts this isn't right this can't happen. And what is it finally take for things to change? And I was watching it and it was really quite disturbing and I didn't sleep particularly well or shouldn't have watched it really, you know, literally an hour before going to bed. But it's amazing when people can openly express themselves. You know, that's why audio, podcast or other ways that you can speak and then often give people an opportunity to speak humans do very well when they can express what they're thinking and feeling. And like I say in my life right now and in the seasons of my life. It's difficult, very difficult, very challenging. That the fact that I have a number of people that I can share what is going on in my mind and be curious about the makings of my mind. Can we choose what we think you know, with with with what we're doing with everything that we're doing right now.

Pete Cohen 25:34
We're trying to help people. Always lean on me when you're not strong you owe

Pete Cohen 26:37
somebody. So, all I've ever wanted to do is to be someone that other people can lean on and help people make sense of the experience of who they are. Where they are. Help people realize they don't have to be who they thought they were. They don't have to be their past. They can be more, they can become more. They can have more fulfillment. They can grow, they can contribute. And I've let people lean on me for so many years. But I'm only as good as my ability to let people lean on me, as I am allowing myself to lean on others. You know, it's like a complete circle. And when you've got people that you can lean on and people that you can genuinely be yourself. This is what I see. I've seen it for years. I've seen this defense mechanism of people not wanting to reveal themselves to others fear of what other people might think. But when your perspective changes and when we look at how to stop ruminating Well, I don't know whether you'll ever stop it. But just to be aware of it. Being able to make sense of it being able to distract yourself away from it by focusing your attention on something that takes you out of that space. puts you into a space where maybe you start to appreciate where you are or you feel grateful for where you are. Because otherwise, we'll just be a victim of what we've experienced before. And what I love to say to people is what got you here, it's not going to get you there but where is it that you want to go?

Pete Cohen 28:38
Right? So if you believe that we're all made of the same stuff, and energetically we can all connect with each other when you're struggling, what better antidote is there or what better therapy is there than having others around you that you can speak and you can talk and you can let out you can make sense of what's going on. Surely that has to be one of the most powerful ways that people can move on, from what is going on or deal with what is going on. When my coach was alive. He told me over the four years that he spent working with world hunger, traveling around the world living with indigenous people where they weren't allowed to interfere they just had to watch and he said you wouldn't believe the amount of places you'd go where everyone would sit in a circle. And you create the circle of anyone could speak and people would share what they didn't know or they didn't understand or what they were struggling and everyone came together. To help each other. That to me is kind of when you see the best of human beings and life isn't easy. Life isn't always the way we maybe want it to be or anticipated to be. But what a beautiful thing that a human being can put out a human beings hand or both arms, give someone a hug and look at someone and say what can I do for you? That's why Martin Luther King said you know that one question that we should all be asking each other which is, you know, what can I do for you? How can I help you? How can I support you to make sense of that experience to make sense of the rumination which is the continuation of thoughts that just keeps spinning. And as Dr. Tracy marks talked about this kind of default mode, this negative default mode that we have is looking out, anticipating of all the different things that could happen. That's when the mind starts creating fantasies illusions. That's why in Buddhism they call it Dukkha. In Hinduism, they call it Maya. Of this, this the nature of the brain that's kind of almost trying to trick you. Or maybe not tricky, because I don't know you. Some of you I know but I don't know all of you just to be curious and to put a smile on your face. And one of the things I have learned so much around fear and love is the fear to love 100% all in but when you love with all of your heart, that's where the greatness that I see in myself really comes to town. And then I look back and I realize that a lot of the ruminating that I've had in my life has come from a place of fear of fear of not being good enough the fear of loss. But to choose to love to me is to choose to be human is the choice to be whole. And again, this only comes my own learning from being curious about the experience of being me. And knowing that sharing that experience with others gives me an opportunity to change.

Pete Cohen 32:35
So this is six years of the this podcast which was originally called Mi365 which is the name of our business, Mi365 is all about My Intentions now delivered getting people's minds right and helping people doing what they say they're going to do as they progress and get better. But we changed the name of the podcast of Future Self because what we're looking to do or what we've started to do is to help people gamify the experience of life as they start to bring into play their intentions and intentions can be also the intention to stop doing something that doesn't serve you and just to make progress and to understand that you will meet your future self one day. Everything that we do every single day is a vote for the person that we're going to become. And I vote for love. I vote for kindness I vote for gratitude. I vote for peace. But if that's what I vote for, I've got to have the intention of doing the activities that lead to that, to give that to the world. So when you know what you want to give to the world when you know what's really important to you, and you want to practice that every single day life becomes easier because there's something to do. And one of the things people do is ruminate going over and over and over things. And I'm sure a lot of those people need help. I think we all need help from time to time. And everything we do is based on helping you become the person that you want to be. So from the bottom of my heart and the top of my heart and the middle of my heart and every fiber of my being. I want you to know that I have your back as best as I can. And other people have got my back and who's got your back and whose back Have you gotten? Who could you go to today and tell them hey, what can I do for you? How are you feeling about where you are right now? And then you hear the ruminating thoughts that come out? Around or what I'm concerned about this? I'm uncertain about that. And just to hold your space for someone and you can hold that space for yourself and realize the best is yet to come. Thank you so much for listening to the Future Self Podcast. Really, really appreciate every single one of you and guess what? We'll see you next time.


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