Have you ever seen a cow chew it’s cud? It’s gross. I’m not going to get into the scientific reason why they swallow and regurgitate, but here’s a thorough explanation if you must know more. Interesting fact: cows spend 8 hours a day and 40,000 jaw movements eating.
How did I arrive at these cattle facts? And more importantly, WHY did i even want to know?
I’ll spare you all the details of my head trip leading to a cry fest and “whoa is me”. I pay my therapist to listen to me. Inevitably, at the 55 minute mark, she’ll stop scribbling, look up, and give me one pearl of wisdom that is supposed to solve my problem(s). She told me to stop “ruminating”, and gave me a book that I’ve already lost. When my husband got home later, I asked him what “ruminate” means. He answered, “a cow that chews it’s cud.” That threw me for a loop, so I googled away on the correlation of me and cows.
Humans ruminate a bit different than cows. Ours manifest in our brains with 2 basic components:
- compulsive, focused attention on one’s angst
- all the negative causes and consequences. (opposed to possible positive solutions)
ok, so I’m a worry-wort. It runs in my family. I’ve become a bigger Chicken Little as I get older, but so what?
I couldn’t let it go with that conclusion since my worrying nature forced me to dig further. Turns out that there IS a difference.
To worry is healthy concern of potential current and future risks. To ruminate is replaying bad experiences in the past and thinking they will happen again. If thoughts are things, then ruminating only predicts the inevitable failure. Again.
So, how do i stop chewing like a cow and stop running like a hamster on an endless wheel?
Here are 2 simple ways I started that have helped me stop:
- FORGIVE YOURSELF: Psychologist Susan Nolen-Hoeksema says “the organization of our brains sets us up for over-thinking.” Our thoughts and memories are woven together, not organized separately in neat boxes of “that happened, get over it.” and “This thought is something new.” Get rid of the bad box and open the new one.
- FORGET ABOUT IT. Move on. Even if it’s not perfect, you’re stepping out of the box of shame and into your new future.
Does this make you HAPPY? It makes me smile. My jaws thank me from chewing over my silly past.