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Stop brooding: Brooders live dangerously

Everyone knows brooding. Thoughts revolve around the same topic, often around a problem. Our minds just do not calm down. The worries grow and a solution cannot be found at all. Such brooding is dangerous. If the carousel of thought cannot be stopped, it will eventually hit the psyche. We end up in the pondering trap and become unhappy and sick. Especially when brooding becomes compulsive. We'll show you what common causes and triggers are - plus tried and tested tips and methods that you can use to stop the brooding ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Causes: Why do we brood?

Playing brooding and questions in your head is completely normal. By definition, “brooding” means that we think long and hard about something. Again and again. Such thoughts can never be completely suppressed or stopped. This can be the repeated search for a solution. Or brooding over and dealing with future developments. If these thoughts are threatening, we worry.

In fact, they are often intelligent peoplewho are prone to brooding. They reflect more and are particularly self-critical. It becomes problematic when brooding becomes chronic and stressful. When weighing, pondering, turning and turning leads to a derogatory carousel of thoughts. Then those affected focus only on abstract scenarios, on fears, deficits, mistakes and negative feelings. This is what distinguishes brooding from solution and action-oriented thinking, which is more focused on the future and is concrete. Typical topics are:

  • Existential fears
  • Relationship conflicts
  • Childhood and parents
  • Worries about the future
  • Self-image and impact
  • Feelings of self-worth
  • Questions of meaning
  • Decisions and consequences

Who tends to brood, should mainly deal with the triggers. Often there are traumatic experiences or unprocessed negative experiences behind the brooding. They are not infrequently accompanied by feelings of shame and school, as well as excessive self-criticism. In a professional context, frequent causes are also criticism of one's own performance, working methods or results. Brooders take this (too much) to heart. It gnaws at their self-esteem and self-confidence. Not least because they made both dependent on external recognition.

Brooding: Sadness is the longest emotion

From morning to evening we go through a wave pool of emotions. Most feelings go away as quickly as they came. But there are exceptions, as a study by the University of Leuven shows. Some emotions linger a long time. Feelings of guilt, for example, have a longer lifespan than feelings of shame. Worries are more lasting than fear. But there is one feeling that makes us ponder for a particularly long time: sadness (see graphic).

Five days - that's how long we need to get rid of the lump in our throat. Behind this comes the hatred that you carry around with you for 60 hours. “Brooding,” the researchers say, “is the main reason why some emotions last longer than others. Emotions associated with brooding last the longest. "

Brooding: The Consequences of Negative Thoughts

“Brooding is like rocking: You are busy, but you are not making any headway.” - The quote gets to the point: The persistent headache regularly leads to a kind of endless loop. And those who brood a lot are more likely to develop unpleasant obsessions. The consequences include:

Studies show: Everyday brooding causes just as much stress as the trigger itself. So we're only doubling our suffering. Or relive the anger and causes over and over again. Or as the scientists put it: Constant brooding is a state of "excessive self-awareness" that keeps the stress level at a constant level - regardless of the actual event.

Michigan State University researchers found that chronic brooders were at higher risk for PTSD. The abbreviation stands for "post-traumatic stress disorder". It is known among other things as war and soldiers suffering. Even more: Brooding can be a sign and warning signal of the onset of burnout or depression.

Brooding is a saboteur

What happens in the mind of people who brood particularly often? - Simone Kühn, scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, pursued the question in several studies. Result: those who brood speak to themselves - and activate the conflict centers in the brain. Especially brain regions such as the left inferior frontal gyrus and the cingulate cortex are particularly active in brooders. They are associated with quiet inner speech ("self-talk") and with conflicts.

It is true that so often a post-traumatic stress disorder is revealed in those affected. But even healthy people can be severely affected by ruminations. Typical: Even in pauses for thought, they talk to themselves internally and thereby stimulate their conflict centers in the brain. In doing so, they only sabotage themselves and possible solutions - and on top of that, they become more unhappy.

Brooding works like a "fire accelerator" on negative feelings, is also convinced Tobias Teismann, head of the Center for Psychotherapy Bochum. Anyone who is once stuck in the pondering trap will rock their thoughts further and further and reinforce negative memories.

Stop Brooding: 8 Tips

Constant brooding can be a huge stumbling block. Anyone who constantly ponders, doubts, hesitates and gets stuck. Your own thoughts can sometimes be so loud and dominant that they fill the room. Then there is only room in the head for fears and worries that overshadow everything else. Even simple solutions. It is difficult to turn this cycle off and stop the carousel of thought. Of course, you can't say to a brooder: "Stop brooding!" As to a depressed person: "Be happy again!" But there are a few tips and ways you can stop brooding or at least contain it:

  1. Create a distraction

    Many people brood when they have nothing better to do. So find alternatives and give your thoughts a different direction. Read a good book, talk to friends on the phone, or plan a vacation. You automatically stop brooding because you concentrate on other things.

  2. Recognize patterns

    Brooding quickly becomes routine. Thinking and behavior patterns can easily develop from this. Another reason why it is so hard to stop brooding. By exposing triggers and thought patterns, you can break them. Question when you start to brood and what topics you are constantly dealing with. In this way, you can recognize early on when the brooding begins - and avoid such situations.

  3. Use stop signals

    A tried and tested technique for stopping brooding is what is known as a thought stop using stop signals. As soon as the brooding begins, say to yourself: “Stop!” Or “Stop!” Or “That's enough!” Sounds silly at first, but works in practice. You interrupt your train of thought and then lead it in a new - constructive - direction. Anything else doesn't help anyway.

  4. Write down thoughts

    When you write down and note down, you organize your thoughts at the same time and gain more clarity about the cinema in your head. Many a horror flick shrinks into a silly comedy. The effect can be increased if you contrast the negative thoughts with realistic facts and actual experiences.

  5. Why ask

    Brooders often ask “Why?” - “Why me? Why does that always happen to me? ”But the question only aims backwards, searches the past for causes, quarrels with fate or wallows in self-pity. Rather ask yourself: "What for?" - The question of WHY looks ahead and transforms strokes of fate into a station on a path that pursues a goal. And that gives hope and encourages.

  6. Take a 2-minute test

    If you notice that you are brooding, take the so-called 2-minute test: Allow yourself the thought carousel for a moment - and after two minutes ask yourself: “Have the thoughts brought me closer to a solution? Did I understand something that was unclear to me before? Do I feel better now? ”If the answer is“ No, ”consciously stop your thoughts. From now on, brooding is destructive. By becoming aware of the process, you can end agonizing thoughts.

  7. Evaluate differently

    Whether we experience thoughts positively or negatively depends not least on our attitude towards them and their evaluation. If you think about it, think it through and think it through anyway - why not be positive right away? Be grateful for what you have achieved and make the most of setbacks. Errors are "helpers" - simply by rearranging the letters!

  8. Distance mindfully

    Realize that these are only thoughts - not facts! When pondering, many people make up pictures that are just that: worst-case scenarios. But none of them has arrived yet. To stop the ruminating thoughts, come up with an alternative attitude. “What if?” - can also be played out positively. With a few mindfulness exercises you focus more on the moment and the worries shrink back to normal.

Stop brooding: 3 good reasons

Brooders are constantly stressed, frustrated, and unhappy. They control their thoughts - not the other way around. You get more and more into it and threaten to get sick. There are three good reasons why you should stop brooding:

  • You're listening again
    If your thoughts are drumming so loudly that you cannot concentrate on anything else, the chance to listen to others will be missed. The stream of thoughts can be calmed down immediately through active listening. Listen to good friends, play your favorite music. Or listen carefully to nature!
  • They watch more
    Just like listening, watching falls by the wayside when brooding. As a result, many beautiful and positive things are overlooked and not noticed. Often they are much more important and also much more relevant in terms of numbers than what worries us.
  • You get to know your feelings
    Negative thoughts create a pessimistic attitude, a bad mood and a clouded view of the future. Cut out the brooding, regain control of yourself, and better understand your emotions and triggers.

However, if the brooding cannot be stopped at all, you should consult a specialist and doctor. This can be a real anxiety disorder. Therapy is also not a shame if you want to break out of the downward spiral of brooding. Psychotherapy can help combat the causes instead of just laboring on the symptoms.

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November 28, 2020Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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