Comments (39)

  1. Cait Wotherspoon 13.01.2017 at 13:03

    Good explanation Tim, very helpful. I love the steps from rumination to introspection, it makes life more pleasurable.

  2. 13.01.2017 at 14:04

    Thanks Cait, I’m glad you found it helpful.

  3. Rohan 01.02.2017 at 23:25

    Nice article Tim. Very helpful. I am myself trying to beat the ruminating habit and turn into productive introspection and your article is very helpful

  4. Tim Hill 02.02.2017 at 06:56

    Hi Rohan, I’m glad you found it helpful for you. Ruminating can be a difficult thing to get on top of but I think the first step is to discover that you’re doing it, and the second step is to decide to address it. Clearly, you’ve passed those steps and are on the way to making changes. Good on you, and good luck!

  5. Sampat 16.05.2017 at 03:19

    Yes. What you said happens to me all the time. I ruminate quite often but at the same time I try to draw some conclusion from it. The problem is how not to think about the past?

  6. Tim Hill 16.05.2017 at 12:58

    Hi Sampat, I think there is asome value in trying to draw some conclusions, but I would perhaps try to move my attention to other things when you start ruminating. A good way to do this is to take a deep breath, let it out, then imagine that you are stepping out in a new mental direction. A really key thing is not not be critical with yourself about ruminating – this is a sure way to stay trapped with it. All the best!

  7. Anmol devgan 18.07.2017 at 07:48

    Hello sir today u make me soooooooooo relief , today I’m able to know what actually im doing by thinking my past Sir I want to tell u that in 2016 I was in depression nearly about 5-6 months because of may reasons but the main damage is done by my girlfriend Sir some times in night I cry a lot like 2 yr old kid actually main reason is she done already sex with someone and she just shows interest in some other boys even after 5 year relationship with me but I have too much regrets that I had wasted my time and money on her . Today I just want to change my past and most of time I think about my past I’m just very very very hurt from inside

  8. Jane 22.11.2017 at 05:14

    What about when you constantly keep on thinking about a time in the past that was amazing and you keep on wanting to go back there?

  9. Tim Hill 22.11.2017 at 08:54

    Hi Jane, thanks for your comment. Although wanting to return to an amazing time in the past is really natural, it can also be very uncomfortable and a source of sadness that you can’t return there, especially if some aspect of the memory has changed (such as you have lost a person in the memory, or you or your circumstances have changed).

    I think in these situations we need to find a way to still draw pleasure from the memory, even though circumstances have changed. We need to find a way to enjoy the amazing things that have happened to us and to savour the pleasures of our memory, without that pleasure being wiped out by the knowledge that the amazing times have ended. To help us do this, it can be useful to think of the memory as having two parts; the pleasurable part, and then the part that isn’t pleasurable (the loss that came after). This can help us focus on the part that is pleasurable, and replay that for that is worth. It can help if we remember that, even though the amazing times have ended, they were still amazing and there’s nothing wrong in staying with our pleasurable memories. I think this separating the memory into two parts is similar to what other people mean when they talk of ‘letting go’.

    I have talked a little mor about this process in another blog post (

    I hope you’re able to enjoy the amazing memories, Jane, without so much pain.

  10. Shaun Watling 24.01.2018 at 10:31

    Very helpful and so glad I came across it. Thanks!

  11. Tim Hill 25.01.2018 at 11:29

    Hi Shaun, I am really glad you found it helpful – thanks for your comment.

  12. Rachel 21.02.2018 at 03:59

    Great article with excellent ideas about how to change unhelpful thinking – thank you for sharing!

  13. Tim Hill 21.02.2018 at 08:10

    Hi Rachel – I am glad that it’s been of help to you, and hope it helps sort things out! Thanks for your kind words.

  14. Amresh kumar 20.03.2018 at 19:16

    Dear sir, you have given very consistent explanation, it has also been explained some how in Srimadbhagwad Gita.

  15. Tim Hill 20.03.2018 at 20:08

    Thank you Amresh for your comment; I was not aware that what I had written was also explained in the Srimad Bhagavad Gita but I thank you for making me aware. I hope you found what I wrote useful for you.

  16. Robert Hammel 29.03.2018 at 06:47

    Great blog post. It’s so hard to have a positive present when we are stuck in the thoughts and emotions regarding the past.

  17. Tim Hill 29.03.2018 at 07:34

    Thanks for your comment, Robert. You make an important point; any hope we might have for living a satisfying life inevitably means making the most of the present, and this becomes impossible when our present thoughts and emotions are consumed by the unchangeable past.

  18. Mary Ann 08.05.2018 at 22:20

    This is the best article i have ever read on ruminating (and I have read many)! I am constantly dwelling on some very recent negative events of the past, one of which caused me great embarrassment. Doing so has caused me great anxiety, so much so that I have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and am currently on medication. Rumination has also caused me to lose sleep. I am currently working with a therapist to try to overcome this. It is very difficult. I know that ruminating serves absolutely no purpose and is self-destructive. Thank you for a very insightful article.

  19. Tim Hill 09.05.2018 at 09:43

    Thank you for your kind words, Mary Ann. I’m very pleased that you were able to find the article useful for you. I am very glad to hear that you are working with a therapist. Being able to talk to someone about the problem who is understanding and gentle but also resolutely helpful can do a lot to help you overcome it. Your words illustrate that even though we know better, it can be hard to stop doing it (which can make us even more self-critical). I wish you all the best with it.

  20. Julianne 15.06.2018 at 04:48

    What a great article! I do have a question… What defines the “past”? As I work through a broken relationship my spouse says I always talk about the past. I view the past as being a substantial amount of time ago, he views the past as a conversion from the day or days before. How do you decide what is past and what is an unresolved problem in a relationship that must be addressed. We both work with separate therapists and get two different views…or at least our perception of the views. I am not without my communication struggles but believe we must talk through the conflict(mostly excessive drinking) before we can move forward.
    We never break through the conflict just discuss it and not resolve anything. How do you differentiate talking through conflict and hanging onto the past?

  21. Tim Hill 15.06.2018 at 11:07

    Hi Julianne,
    That’s a good question. In one sense the past is everything in history older than the current second, but for the purposes of the article, it is about the problematic past. You and your spouse are both right in a sense – you are are both talking about the past – but it seems like ‘the past’ means different things to both of you. Even narrowing further, it seems you are saying that your spouse thinks you don’t have a problem with the past because he doesn’t agree about what ‘the past’ means. Essentially, the past is problematic if you feel it is; if you spouse doesn’t agree, then it likely makes it more problematic.

    Although I don’t think I’m in a position to advise you – I don’t know you – it does seem that talking through things doesn’t change things – and it’s change you are looking for. From an Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) perspective, couples often need to get beyond the familiar patterns of interacting to connect with the deeper emotions and attachment between them before change can happen.

    I hope this helps.

  22. Geraldine Judd 29.09.2018 at 00:44

    Thank you so much for your article, it really opened my eyes.

  23. Tim Hill 01.10.2018 at 17:35

    Hi Geraldine,

    I am glad you found it useful, and thank you so much for saying so – it’s really appreciated.


  24. Ashley 10.10.2018 at 01:21

    I often think about my past; mostly about past hurts within the family and an ended relationship. I constantly think about my actions and even say out loud “What the hell was I thinking”?! I replay conversations that have happened, things that happened in the situation and even think about the things people said to me – and sometimes, I even respond to the thought out loud. I do have depression but this article made me think could it be anxiety too? Is it more than just depression? A certain song will come on and it will bring back memories of an ex: and it’s extremely detailed – when the song comes on I automatically think about this person, the apartment I was living in at the time and my ex… things that went on in that apartment (I haven’t lived there in 3 years). I figure there must be a reason why but I can’t seem to get a grip. I won’t even be thinking about it then like a light switch, it pops up in my head and there go the thoughts about the past again. I’m wondering if it could even be a form of PTSD…

  25. Tim Hill 10.10.2018 at 19:08

    Hi Ashley,

    It is hard for me to say what it is without knowing you. However, I do know that many people experience intrusive thoughts like this and they can be very specific. I do also feel that for many people, these thoughts can dissipate over time. They just get drowned out by the other events that happen to us; things that are more recent often have a greater call on our immediate thinking. One thing that is hard to recommend with this is to be too hard on yourself – you aren’t actively bringing the thoughts to mind, and to be critical of yourself just emphasises how much these thoughts can have a hold on you.

    I Hope this helps.


  26. Angela 07.02.2019 at 08:00

    Wow, such wonderful information, was really wondering why after 50 years I have gone back to a really great time in my life and relive it again and again. Resulted in my smiling more, feeling great love, understanding the why of it could not be. Of course that makes me sad but still feels good to visit. Had never ever before thought or even remembered much about it. I truly felt zapped back there and felt there had to be a reason. Thank you will be looking for more of you.

  27. Tim Hill 07.02.2019 at 11:55

    Hi Angela,

    Thanks for you comment, and I am glad that you found it valuable. That’s a very human thing to do isn’t it? – to take ourselves back to a time from the past and to have a mixture of feelings about those times including sadness, warmth, regret, wisdom, acceptance etc. It can help us realise that resolution of things is rarely a simple thing, with a simple outcome; instead, there can be a lot of complexity and multilayering. In a sense, perhaps it is those complex feelings that are most appealing to us.

  28. David 12.02.2019 at 22:26

    Really interesting article Tim. I have always thought about my thoughts and I ask myself “what’s wrong me”?. I have thought to talk to a psychologist but haven’t done yet!
    It’s a relief to know that i can get over my thoughts!
    I will search more about it!
    Thanks a fortune!

  29. Tim Hill 13.02.2019 at 11:10

    Hi David,

    I am glad that you found what I wrote helpful for you. Feeling that there is something wrong with us is a very human thing to do; it would be hard to find someone who hasn’t had those thoughts, and it can be just a product of the modern world – we tend to show just the best side of ourselves to people, hiding the parts we are not sure about or which we feel will be unacceptable. This is one of the side benefits of therapy – having someone say ‘you aren’t crazy, everyone has thoughts like that sometimes’ can be such a relief.

  30. Juless 26.03.2019 at 20:34

    Thank you for this post! It is very helpful. What I noticed about thinking about the past that is kinda difficult to move forward when someone (like my sister) keeps dragging you down about it. It is always the same thing, at times when something doesn’t fit her mood or situation. I tend to think she might have a problem either depression anxiety or something else. But what I noticed for 14 years long is that when she drags me back into the past (some traumatic events) I am getting myself in the stage of overthinking, drepressd, disturbing sleeping, angry sad and all of those emotions togheter. When she is not bringing the past in conversation I never thought about it, but when she does I ruminate kinda of months and I don’t feel good about it.
    I broke my relationship with her since I felt that that vicious circle is dangerous to my health. But what you wrote above about the past is exactly what she does to me and my father and everyone who she is upset with so I think she is in that ruminating stage for years since this always comes back. I don’t know why does she has a problem? I tried to talk that she finds help but she says she ain’t the problem she is not “crazy” was her response. I don’t know how to help her but I choose to help myself by breaking relation completely since it felt so toxic to my mental health. I am now 7 months further with therapy and is getting better but every time she tries to contact me gets me back to the first stage. It is very difficult.

    Ps sorry for my English is not my mother language. And thank you again for this article, helps a lots!!

  31. Tim Hill 28.03.2019 at 14:46

    Hi Juless, thank you for your comment. This does sound like a difficult situation with your sister, one that you seem to be working on resolving. Getting some help with these hard family problems is a good way to go; hopefully it will lead to a better outcome for you – and a better outcome for her too, in the end.

  32. Mulundu Zulu 21.06.2019 at 01:24

    My goodness, this article has made me aware of what I was doing that would make me so unhappy. I was ruminating, pointlessly spinning the wheels in my mind and headed nowhere fast. Thank you very much for this article, I can guarantee you that from the moment I read the definition of rumination my whole outlook on life changed. This article is life changing. Thank you, Sir.

    NB: Great minds think alike, your wisdom resonates with holy texts…

  33. Tim Hill 22.06.2019 at 08:34

    Thank you very much for your comment, and I am glad you found it of use to you.

  34. Joseph Lee 01.07.2019 at 00:05

    Tim, thank you for sharing. We now understand our thoughts better. These two words “introspection” and “rumination” and understanding what they mean help us to clearly categorise our thoughts. This is basically the first and important step. And next most important step will be “how” we are going to transform rumination thoughts into introspective thoughts and then taking the needed actions. Thank you, Tim, I am working on it. You are a great help.

  35. Tim Hill 01.07.2019 at 11:02

    Hi Joseph, I am glad you found the post helpful. You’re right, the distinction between the two is very important, but it is hard for us to instinctively recognise which one we are doing at the time. Some of the questions that you can ask yourself are ‘Am I learning something about my self?’ and ‘Is this way of thinking new to me?’.



  36. waqas 24.07.2019 at 09:14

    Since my grandmother and father passed away I have been in the state of rumination and it is affecting my life in a negative way. For instance, I should be planning for the future or doing what matters now but I would rather waste my time in listening to songs which would remind me of my past. That’s no bueno 🙁

  37. Tim Hill 24.07.2019 at 16:36

    I am sorry to hear about your losses. Whilst rumination can definitely be unproductive, humans also have a need to grieve our losses, especially if they involve the loss of something or somebody that was very important. This grieving process can take a long time – it is impossible to say how long it might take, and I don’t know of a way to make it go faster. However, no matter how unproductive it might seem, I would encourage you to take the time you need to grieve your losses.



  38. Aditi 12.10.2019 at 22:21

    Hi Tim,
    Most of the it it okay with me but sometimes I become very anxious I start to think about the past how as a child I grown up and how I played how people in my life has aged I start to look around where I was sitting. It feels so bad it seems like everything has changed so fast even I cannot understand it.
    I do not know why these things are happening
    And I am 15.
    Please guide me if you could

  39. 17.10.2019 at 21:51

    Hi Aditi, thank you for your comment. I’m not sure I fully understand your situation, but I do know that I don’t know you well enough to help. I don’t know if it is possible for you, but I would really recommend that you find someone that you trust from your own community or family that you trust that you can talk to, someone who will listen to you and try to understand your fears and anxieties. Finding the right person to talk to can help us so much when we are troubled by what we think. I hope you’re able to find someone that you can talk to.



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