When mistakes happen, it always stings. However, if you can recover and learn from your mistakes, it could prove to be a powerful turning point in your life in the long run. But if you endlessly relive situations, wishing you’d make a different choice, then you’re never going to move forward.
That mental replay when fretting over mistakes is called rumination. We’re worrying about something we literally cannot change. As a result, we end up berating ourselves again and again. Rumination isn’t just mentally exhausting; according to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), rumination is “closely linked to poor problem-solving, anxiety, and depression.” The good news is that if you’re the kind of person who keeps their mistakes on loop, there are simple strategies for breaking this toxic pattern.
Identify Your Triggers
What causes you to fall into rumination? Look back and make a list of what puts you in that negative headspace. HBR provides common example triggers that lead to rumination.
• Collaborating with people you don’t yet trust
• Being around people who seem smarter or more ambitious
• Taking a step up in your career
• Making major money decisions
When you become aware of your triggers, you can catch yourself before you spiral.
Get Some Distance
It’s helpful to get distance from your problems, but rumination will follow you, even if you hop on a plane to some far-off island. Learn to get some psychological distance from your worries. You can do this by reframing your thoughts. If you find yourself thinking, “I’m unworthy,” correct yourself to “I’m feeling unworthy.” Sometimes, when you feel your rumination taking over, it can help to brush off the thoughts by saying, “That’s just my ruminations working overtime.”
Learn the Difference Between Rumination and Problem Solving
People who ruminate tend to be worse at problem-solving. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology found that women who ruminate tended to wait longer to see a doctor after finding a breast lump. Rumination can cause you to put off making important decisions. To break out of rumination, HBR suggests asking yourself, “What’s the best choice right now, given the reality of the situation?”
You can’t just forget about your mistakes. How will you learn from them? That being said, you can’t let your mistakes take up space in your head. Breaking the pattern of rumination is the only way to make sure 2019 mistakes don’t become 2020 hang-ups.
Thanks for reading,
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