Comments (82)

  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. Tim Hill 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 (http://timhillpsychotherapy.com/too-many-regrets/)

    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.

    Tim

  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…..like 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.

    Tim

  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?’.

    Regards,

    Tim

  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.

    Regards,

    Tim

  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. Timothy J Hill 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.

    Regards,

    Tim

  40. SANDRA 20.10.2019 at 16:16

    My daughter randomly talks about past events. Concerning people who are not important in her life at all. Just any event that happened in the past. Then she has to tell someone about her thoughts. She will ring me or her siblings. Or sent a text. The topics can jump from one to the another. Is that OCD?

  41. Timothy J Hill 22.10.2019 at 12:44

    Hi Sandra, It’s very difficult to know what’s happening or help from the distance, given that I don’t know your daughter or her circumstance. However, if you were concerned a good place to start would be your doctor, who might then be able to make some recommendations for further action to take. I hope this has been of help; I know that it can be worrying when you feel something is wrong, but you’re not quite sure what.

    Regards,

    Tim

  42. Assia 12.12.2019 at 02:42

    Hi Tim and thank you so very much for this amazing article.

    I myself, just starting to be more aware of my thoughts and their patterns, I realized I had this constant what if scenarios about the past, if I only made that choice, If I only haven’t done that and how my life could be now if I chose differently.. to the point there is always always a similar thought coming to my mind, in a specific moment of the day and I realized how harmful it is and how helpless it feels, like I’m trapped in the present instead of healing the past, learning and creating more of what I would enjoy.

    Thank you so much for this insightful moment and the new awareness you brought into my life.

  43. Timothy J Hill 12.12.2019 at 07:19

    Hi Assia, thank you for your kind words, and I am so glad that you found it valuable. Being aware of what you think and the patterns that you unconsciously fall into is so very important as it can be a sign that you’re on the way towards making changes; as they say, awareness is the first step.

    All the best for the future – Tim

  44. Kitty 03.02.2020 at 18:38

    Thank you so much Sir for sharing your knowledge to us. It is helping me a lot. I was trying to avoid myself thinking about the past and probably mostly resisting myself to it. I realize now that I am most introspecting the whole time. Thank you so much! I am glad to google it out and find your article. Thank you so much!

  45. Yuli 04.02.2020 at 16:32

    Is this a just phase? Will it go away? Or is it some mental health issue? I’m curious since these past events keep cycling over and over again when depression hits me out of nowhere. I mean they’re good memories of the past, but somehow I keep comparing them to the present which doesn’t help with my depression. I try to be more positive and such but it doesn’t really help.

  46. Timothy J Hill 05.02.2020 at 23:11

    Hi Kitty, I’m glad that you’ve found what I’ve written useful for you. – Tim

  47. Timothy J Hill 05.02.2020 at 23:15

    Hi Yuli, thank you for your comment. It does some time and practice to be able to have some control over your thoughts, and this is especially hard if you are feeling depressed; but it’s worth persisting with. I can only recommend that if you remain concerned about these thoughts that you seek out some help close by. – Tim

  48. Sandi 29.02.2020 at 19:33

    Extremely interesting … I recently met a woman that ppl avoid and if find listener short lived because she tells these family problems and how badly they treated her and still do. I love ppl and the Lord has used me thru many yrs to help others I seem to have great discernment (78 in August) When this gal came into my life after she tricked me to go an hour out of my way for a ride I was told Beware manipulative. I found out she wanders looking for attention using the past issues as communication and I at first pushed her away after the 30min drive turned into over 2hrs. But I prayed for her as I found out she is new tenant where I live. She did try very hard to push herself into my life but I held out two weeks before pending my door to her. I did tell her she was wrong to not be truthful about the ride. Ok now hoping you can help me some just do not know where to turn. For three weeks have spent many hours with her, mainly because I live alone with several disabling issues, and wanted not to be another to avoid and shut her out. I have not been able to get her to stop repeating her past… which of course I have no way to check out these stories. I have said all your suggestions..which made me feel better… I used like a hamster running and going nowhere. But so far nothing, than twenty times Can I Live With You, thank you for being my friend. She is 51, married third time for three yrs but husband wants to kick her out. Desperate tonite I google for help and how I found your article and seem to fit. Sorry so long as concise as could explain.

  49. Gopi patel 05.03.2020 at 17:01

    Well thanks for posting such an outstanding idea.[edited]

  50. Tim Hill 05.03.2020 at 17:54

    Hi Gopi, I’m glad you found it useful – Tim

  51. Tim Hill 05.03.2020 at 17:56

    Hi Sandi, thank you for saying that. I’m sorry that I can’t be of specific help to you in your situation, but I do hope you find a resolution that sits well with you – Tim

  52. julius 18.03.2020 at 09:33

    I am very grateful to have encountered this article,,Its happening to me right now. My wife talks everyday to an outside co-worker. They usually talk between the hours of 8pm and 10pm. She does tell me they talk because he sees her as his sister! She talks about him all the time, his dreams and goals within the company. She seems to happy to be on the phone with him. He supposedly is married with kids but that never stops affairs from happening, that I can tell. Ive had thoughts of finding him or confronting her but I have also heard that could drive them closer together. Not sure what to do. I just feel lonely and stuck. until i found a reliable help online who help me reconcile our marriage back together again,, he is capable of any life issues, good luck to you all,, Amen

  53. Rachael 09.04.2020 at 00:40

    Hi
    Thank you Tim,
    I enjoyed reading this.
    I find i ruminate the most when I’m trying to sleep or just sitting quietly. I find myself thinking about past relationships, how I could of been with that person now and how they have moved on. And I made bad choices and it’s why I don’t have him no more.
    I also think about abuse from childhood and re live moments and then feel great sadness.
    I have many reasons to be happy but something is missing and I find myself going back to much happier times with an ex. Times when I didn’t ruminate.
    I want to be at peace and I wonder are there any daily Excercise’s that we can do to help us think forward or presently. Because always living your life in regret is very tiering. I used to be very happy I my life. But now I’m in a relationship with someone who was very emotionally unsupportive during my pregnancy and I can’t get past how he was even though he’s trying to change. I wonder if this is what can make people ruminate is not being content and at peace with what we have.

  54. Mudit Gupta 26.04.2020 at 21:59

    Hi Tim,

    Thanks for the nice explanation. I am ruminating for almost two decades and it encapsulates failures or perceived humiliation in many important dimensions of life starting from childhood to youth and now middle age. Often I practice motivational activities/changes in lifestyle that relieves for a few days or weeks. But it seems that ruminating has become my permanent character which cannot be erased.

    Can you share some thoughts about the character where one cannot give up ruminating permanently because he/she knows that switching to self-introspection would not yield much now? So that lessons learned would not help anymore as things are obsolete now and the society and its rules are completely changed. There would be no recurrence of past “mishandled” events so that one would encounter them judiciously next time with a winning smile.

  55. Marion Garkie 04.05.2020 at 05:28

    Why has it taken me 72 years to finally see the light. When I read your article, I realized that is what I’ve been doing all my life. Rehashing previous hurts, bad situations, etc. I have been to 3 psychologists, but, no one had clicked on to what was happening to me. I wonder, can this train of thought scummed my good and ordinary memories that my family and friends remember, but, I don’t? Thank you for enlightening me.

  56. timandpolly@gmail.com 04.05.2020 at 08:48

    Hi Mudit Gupta, I do know that it can be hard for us to make changes, especially where we are discussing things that we have been repeating for a long time. Sometimes I feel that the most we can do is to keep doing our original behaviour as our first response, but then to follow it up with a second, learned, thought – in this case “Oh, I have just noticed myself ruminating again”. I’m not sure I agree that self-introspection isn’t valuable when it comes to issues from the past because it’s my belief that the same things repeat over and over again in slightly different guises – a natural occurrence given the strength of endurance of our personalities.

    Tim

  57. timandpolly@gmail.com 04.05.2020 at 08:50

    Hi Marion, I’m really pleased that you have found some value for you in what I have written.

    – Tim

  58. Matt Martone 04.05.2020 at 12:50

    Very interesting article. But I still find myself in question about why I keep going back in time, and almost wish I were back there. I can think for hours about my past. Always seems I go back to different stages, places, and friends. I find myself buying vintage toys I had, because they remind of something, maybe an easier time of life? I listen to music from my “glory days” which can chance from middle school , to high school, and even into my early twenties. I am very happy with my life, madly in love with my wife, no kids, except for my job, we own a pre school. So why am I so fascinate in my earlier life? I never think about my 30’s or 40’s really, and I’m 46 now and feel like I’m wasting the present and not paying any attention to my future? I’m always walking down memory lane, in my head , almost daily .

  59. timandpolly@gmail.com 07.05.2020 at 15:39

    Hi Matt, I’m not really in a position to help, but I wonder if you might find some answers through talking to a counsellor or someone similar in your community, something that will help balance the past and the future for you – Tim

  60. rhino 15.05.2020 at 09:07

    Thank you, it helped me.

  61. Bill P 08.06.2020 at 10:09

    June 7, 2020. I hope you get this, it was very helpful to put a name to name thoughts, thank you. My problem is that at 68, sometimes, these ruminating thoughts transform into a virtual waking dream of things that never happened, but, cause me to react in a violent way (in my head) and then I stress out even more as to whether or not I have Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.

  62. Helen 10.06.2020 at 02:31

    Hi Tim,
    Really great article. I have been struggling with rumination for a really long time, and I have only recently realised that I have a problem. My main thoughts are about work and different jobs that didn’t go well, especially a boss and a workplace that made me feel so stupid and incapable.
    I do not realise that I am thinking about the past until the intense feelings of anger, despair and sadness hit me. I then realise what has made feel that way and I am reminded again of a particular event. This happens to me at least once a day. Sometimes I will be having a chat with my family and then I will for some reason be reminded of an event and then I am straight back there.
    My biggest hangup is that I am stupid and I feel like the majority of the events that I ruminate over support this belief. Any help or insight to this would be really appreciated.

  63. timandpolly@gmail.com 10.06.2020 at 09:25

    Hi Bill, I’m sorry to hear that. Perhaps a visit to your doctor might be something that would help give you some answers.

  64. timandpolly@gmail.com 10.06.2020 at 09:29

    Hi Helen, it’s difficult for me to give you specific help at this distance. However, finding someone who is understanding and a good listener to talk to about this might be helpful for you.

  65. Steve Sybesma 16.07.2020 at 16:33

    There seems to be more to it than you suggest between rumination and introspection. Sometimes I want to go back into the past for historical reasons…to know missing details and knowledge that is lost to history. Sometimes it’s because I feel it was a more innocent time and considering how upside down society is these days, the world ‘seemed’ more peaceful..though not necessarily as the Vietnam War was raging in the mid to late 60s but as a kid where I lived, it was not apparent…only on TV when Walter Cronkite reported about it.

    I have a terribly strong nostalgia for those times. I wish I could go back and be abandoned there. Sure there are regrets I have about the way my childhood went that were completely beyond my control and I wish things could have been different. But that’s all part of the romance of the past that I’m attracted to.

    So you see I’m not confined to your definition of how I think about the past…I have differing reasons…they could be a combination of the two ideas you have, plus a lot more.

    I find it an enjoyable pre-occupation quite often…and at 58 I have no children and I face a worrisome future alone. I simply do not have any great appetite for the future, as I don’t plan on being around much longer. But the past is where my life was (as bad as it often was because of what I suffered), but it’s where my pride is also for I survived that.

    It’s not a thing that drives me into depression, and I do actually suffer from depression…but I do not experience my thinking about the past as a negative thing. I experience a sweetness about it and am somehow able to filter out the nightmare of my childhood.

    So I will always do this the rest of my life since I don’t feel any compelling reason to stop.

  66. timandpolly@gmail.com 16.07.2020 at 18:56

    Hi Steve, what you say is quite understandable; it seems like the past gives you strong feelings, and that those feelings are on the whole positive ones, tinged with pride and a sense of satisfaction (or accomplishment, perhaps). I think I can see why you see no reason to stop. I can imagine that the only reason you might want to stop is if you had a more compelling future or present – but just my musings, as I don’t know you. All the best – Tim

  67. Steve Sybesma 18.07.2020 at 16:42

    Hello Tim,

    Yes, there’s a satisfaction of a sort with the past…maybe solely because I somehow survived it (and it was extremely awful at times that I’m surprised I managed to push through) and have what I would say is modest success in my life (materially/financially but not in any other way). I have a nice home that’s paid off, no debt of any kind…but I also realize I don’t have a lot of time left and never had children and that bothers me as I could leave this world completely alone (aside from my female partner who is two years older). The present also bothers me greatly as I don’t know what kind of world we’re about to enter. I spend a lot to time trying to learn about things in the past (both while I was alive and before) that I had some type of connection to, usually not about people in my life but about places and events. I also enjoy the culture I grew up with and cannot find any satisfaction in modern culture (for over 20 years now) which seems to have disintegrated into a very base and uninspired mess. There is tons of things to keep me mentally occupied thankfully. I tend to live inside my head a lot and have never felt a strong need for close friends. There are downsides to that of course.

    Steve

  68. Joanne Torres 30.07.2020 at 22:55

    This was really useful to come across. I am trying to train my mind away from one particular area, I just seem to have started re-visiting (I’m 51 now ) and for some reason seem to be more focussed on this particular part of my life in the past. I am curious as to why it has started now.

    I would love some counselling – but it is often extremely expensive here in the UK – but will keep visiting your blog Tim, these insights definitely assit.

    Thank you
    Jo

  69. Helen 09.08.2020 at 04:11

    Hello Tim

    I’m very thankful for your article as it made me realize I am definitely ruminating. I’ve always had night terrors but they are drastically increasing and the increase seems to have occurred with the ruminating Also thought it might be due to the fact I’m soon to hit 60. This article has made me realize I do need therapy and plan to reach out to you soon. Thank you
    Sincerely,
    Helen

  70. Alex 20.08.2020 at 11:44

    Thank you so much for this article! It has really put my mind at ease and has allowed me to figure out what has been going on with what I think about.

  71. Cranix Stein 28.08.2020 at 05:02

    You have explained very clearly. it makes me get a way out of my head dipping in the past. Thank you very much,

  72. Jani 03.09.2020 at 15:04

    Thanks a lot Tim, this article is very helpful, you mentioned the issue I face very precisely which earlier I have not been able to understand if i am the only one who has this habit of ruminating. I myself is looking for professional help as i have been feeling of uneasy every day and this article clarify what I am facing. I saw the message that you are retiring, too bad for me as I am really looking for professional help for my psychological issue. Other than ruminating it is also about regret and self blaming that why I only understand what i want after it is too late.
    Anyway thanks Tim for the article.

  73. Kumar Swamy 18.10.2020 at 15:31

    Hi Tim,

    The incidents which I had in my past is not at all going from my mind.

    I am still 22 years old. When I was studying b.com I had one backlog in first semester and felt very sad because I had never failed in exams before. And later I made that subject clear.

    When I reached the 6th semester I got selected in campus selection. And I thought of doing MBA in correspondence as well. Here at work place at the beginning it was normal and later that work pressure was very high which I cannot explain in simple words. I was logging in at 6:30AM and logging out at 8:30 PM.

    For doing MBA we have to provide the convocation certificate to the college. then I went to my degree college and applied for the convocation certificate. After two weeks I went back to college to collect the convocation.
    But I had a big shock from the college office team that I have one more subject backlog. After listening to that shocking news my eyes filled with water and hands and legs started shivering. But I had no idea how to convince our parents about the incident because I had already paid the MBA feels also. And however I
    Told everything to my parents and they only told me not to worry and not to make this kind of mistake in life time.

    But in work place also the pressure started to become very high. Which I cannot even digest.

    From there I became very weak because of this work and tension of clearing of the degree backlog. Along with that I had a love with a girl but I haven’t express with her.

    Later I got cleared that subject and rejoined MBA after an year. And also I resigned the job and stared searching for the job. later I got a job and at the same time MBA first semester exam started. For that reason I requested the HR to postpone my joining date and they agreed with that.

    After finishing the MBA exam I got a joining date and went to job for almost two months. But I was unable to forget those work pressure and a girl for previous company. At the same time lockdown started because of the covid-19.

    From march to till today (October) I was at home only. But I haven’t came out from the incidents of my past. Now I have lost my sleep and also very much of headache. I had went doctor for checkup and they preferred me the sleeping tablets. ever now also I am with same hangover.

    Please advice me how to overcome from the past.

    -Kumar Swamy

  74. timandpolly@gmail.com 19.10.2020 at 11:22

    Hi Kumar, I am sorry that you had this experience, and I hope that you are able to find some relief from it. Unfortunately, I can’t offer any specific help for you – this is much better to come to you from someone you know, either a professional or someone else that you know and trust; that sort of person is much better placed to really help you.
    Regards,
    Tim

  75. Sheryl 19.10.2020 at 16:38

    Can there be an element of the past being familiar and the future being scary ? I went through a bad time and ever since, I feel the urge to look up people from my past way before it happened. Any thoughts ?

  76. Melissa Cahill 09.11.2020 at 02:52

    Thank you for this article, it helps knowing I am not alone in the ruminating way of thinking.

    I often find myself dwelling on the past.
    I get to the point where I am so angry with myself and feel guilty all the time. I never have anything nice to think about, always the bad, negative and humiliating memories. I am so filled with regret and self hate that It has started to affect my life, I am a mother of 4 boys and battling this depression and constant anxiety over things that I can’t change.
    The last 6 months it has become unbearable.

    Thank you again, J wasn’t sure that J would fine much during my google search.

  77. Martin Brown 15.11.2020 at 06:33

    I keep thinking of the past , regrets , bad choices of job etc now that I am 66 , not saved enough for later life , people thats done me wrong , worry about my children’s future , since forced due to coronavirus was still working part time , miss having a purpose thing am now too old to start again , daughter has OCD a worry , what can I do to improve things , thinking back , people are better off than me , but I know not all are .

  78. Lindsey 16.11.2020 at 14:36

    Hello Tim,

    What an outstanding post! Thank you for providing a clear and concise definition of how thinking about your past can influence your current life as well as your future.

    There is so much in my past that I constantly ruminate over. Although I feel regret for so much of my past behavior, I can’t understand why I continue to waste my time on any of it?

    I can’t even escape these constant regretful thoughts in my sleep, because they are vividly imagined in what seems like very current life experiences while I am in REM sleep. How can I get rid of this terribly harmful habit that I feel like I have had all of my life?

    I take an antidepressant everyday, but it is still difficult for me to not feel depressed. It definitely doesn’t help that I am constantly playing back the most humiliating, negative, and painful mistakes that I made in my past. Not only do I know that I have a low self esteem, I also have very high anxiety for no reason whatsoever!

    Should I exercise more? I ask you this because the last time I can remember ever feeling remotely happy and fulfilled in my life was right after my father died and I had to come home to Minnesota from New York for a semester and I started working out a lot because I was so depressed. I had to break up with my boyfriend. My father just died, and my mother didn’t even want me to live at home with her for the rest of the semester. I ended up losing too much weight, (5’2″ tall, was 78 Lbs?) so they (my psychiatrist, mother, friends, rehab clinic, etc…) made me gain at least 20 pounds and to stop working out so much. I really didn’t think that I had an eating disorder, because I ate and digested food every day without any binging or purging behavior, so I don’t understand why I couldn’t work out as much anymore. So, I did do what they told me to but I haven’t been happy with myself since.

    I also used to pay hundreds of dollars per month on seeing a Psychologist, but it was a lot of money with little progress.

    I am 42 years old. I’ve never been married. I have no children. I was adopted when I was 4 years old from South Korea by my very loving American family.

    My brother died when he was 24 and I was 17.

    I have no relationship with my 52 year old sister.

    My father died of suicide my second year of college when I was 20 years old.

    I have a descent relationship with my mother.

    I have been in a relationship with my current boyfriend since June 2012. We have lived together for the past 6 years and we just moved into a large house in SI.

    I don’t plan on having any children or getting married because of a number of reasons.

    My ex boyfriend who I moved to NYC from Las Vegas, to be with, and I also thought was the love of my life, died recently from a drug overdose. I went to his funeral and got back in touch with his best friend who has moved back to NYC. He and I have had a relationship in the past as well.

    I realize that this is a lot of information to take in. You might not even think that I am telling you the truth, but I seriously am. I’ve probably left out a bunch of important information. Actually I know that I have left out some important information,

    I’ve been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, and I’ve been diagnosed with having depression since I was 11 years old. I can remember being depressed even when I was child. I wish that I could get rid of all these regretful times in my past because I feel that it is putting me in a constant cycle of failure in life.

    Sincerely, Lindsey

  79. Hannaa 20.11.2020 at 22:37

    Hello, thank you for a very helpful article, I just wanted to ask how can I escape the past when even my present has the same thing happening in it which ends up reminding me of the sad parts of my past and its like a loop that never stops because I keep thinking the past is where all it started and it still happens today. I feel nothing is changing even though my life did change like: I got married I’m having a baby soon , but even with all that happening I keep think “oh I should have dressed like this on my wedding “ or “oh I should have took this or that design instead”, even in happy moments my brain choses to think of the missing parts or the things that didn’t go right it’s always regret regret regret. I feel trapped cs I can’t even enjoy my present nor plan well for my future I feel like I’m always thinking what could have I changed in the past , it took over my brain that I dont have any motivation. I was never like that as a young girl ,but I’m not sure what changed ? even I think about that what did change in me that causes me to alway regret the past and can’t move on and I can’t even focus on my present nor future? Why does my brain do that? Even when I dont think of my sad parts of my past and don’t regret it , things tend to come in my dreams and disturbe me why? Im also always complains to my sister about our past since we both lived the same story. Its a never ending loop. I want to change and stop my brain from doing whats it does but I find it hard.

  80. Genevieve O'Connor 20.11.2020 at 22:47

    I’m glad I found this post. I am moving away from a city and a job after 15 years and I am clinging onto this past, even though I was unhappy … I seem to be dwelling on it so much even though friends and family are telling me I have a fresh start and great relationship now and the future will be better. I keep thinking I am making a mistake and believing maybe that previous life of loneliness was meant for me because it was my reality for so long.

  81. Dawny 09.01.2021 at 01:05

    I suspect that Tim has now retired as he has stopped commenting but I’m posting anyway as other people still appear to be doing so.
    I relate to many people on here. It would appear that there is no easy answer to why some of us persistently ruminate. I suspect it’s a misuse of normal introspection, where the brain keeps going over problems we have had to find a solution, but because the situation has long since passed there is no answer and we get stuck in a loop.
    A lady named Jo commented that she was suddenly focussed on a certain part of her past. I’m the same age group and I suspect that this can be triggered by the peri menopause. I’ve always noticed that hormones play a part in rumination as does stress.
    It is incredibly hard to work out whether you are officially mentally ill when you experience these thoughts and accompanying feelings but it certainly can be a very unsettling experience to keep going over negative memories.
    Like others on here have said, I haven’t found any form of psychotherapy that stops rumination. Until last year I did very well on my antidepressant but, as I near menopause, my mood is less stable and that makes the rumination worse. It is truly torturous at times!

  82. Tim Hill 09.01.2021 at 09:54

    Hi Dawny,

    You are right – I have retired, but I do occasionally address some of the comments that have been added to my site.

    I thought I might address your point “I haven’t found any form of psychotherapy that stops rumination”. Another way of thinking about this is that as humans, we have a number of modes. One of these is thinking, another is bodily experiences, another may a form of spiritual experience; there may be other modes as well. Some approaches to stopping rumination might be that we change one for of thinking mode (rumination) with another form (planning for the future, feeling gratitude etc). However, you are still in a thinking ode, so it might be that could easily return to another form of thinking mode. What can work for some people would be to switch mode altogether. For example, vigorous exercise, a massage, even taking a shower – any sort of activity where your body is flooding your mind with sensations – creates conditions where it is very difficult to ruminate. It may be that something like this may help, as a form of mindful practice might.

    Regards,

    Tim

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