Rumination

by Rhett

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, rumination is defined as “obsessive thinking about an idea, situation, or choice especially when it interferes with normal mental functioning.”

I have a problem with rumination. I didn’t think it was a big problem until I read that some people don’t ruminate. I would have been less surprised learning that some people don’t poop.

Does anyone else ruminate? Have you found anything that helps?

100 thoughts on “Rumination

  1. Learning this word/concept– and dealing with it through prayer, meditating on different thoughts, reading the Bible, etc.– were the key to ending the bulk of my wife’s struggle with depression (and getting off meds) a decade ago.

    This also reminds me of “A Beautiful Mind” (and the related 60 Minutes interview) where John Nash discussed his need to be on “a diet of the mind” to deal with his mental illness.

  2. One of my children ruminates. Not all the time, but she is a very straight forward thinker, so if something diverts from the expected path she can’t let it go. Case in point, she decided to grow, from seeds, some herbs. She bought everything with her own money, read up on how to do it, when to water, when to add feed. We went away for the weekend and I didn’t tell the person feeding our cat to also feed and water the plants (little sprouts) because I didn’t want her to have to walk through her room and deal with it. All weekend long she kept bringing up her plants, and if they would survive, and can’t we just call our neighbor to water. Super annoying behavior that was consistent all weekend. The plants survived one day without water. I could have lied to her about watering, but I wanted her to know that things can still be okay if they diverted from “the rules”. It’s a slow journey.

    I can’t think of anything that I ruminate over, but I sort of wish I had this ability in some aspects. Just thinking of a problem at work I’m dealing with. One of the deliverables it out of my hands, so I need to keep following up (nagging) and then letting the client know that it is still not complete. But I forget to, because “out of sight, out of mind”. I’m now getting burned by the clients, and basically if I ruminated and followed up, brought in additional support, etc, maybe it would be better?

  3. I ruminate. It does get in the way of my mental health and is an issue I’ve been working on using CBT. I have to interrupt my own thought process, which is hard. I ask myself a series of questions to help put the topic away.

    So for LT’s daughter:
    What happens if the plants don’t get water? They could die.
    How long would that take? The plants would have to go a few days without at least.
    Will I be away that long? In LT’s case, no.
    So, since I won’t be away long enough for the plants to die, can I let this go? Yes.

    That’s an easy cause/effect example. The harder ones for me relate to people and relationships. I’ve found that when I get stuck, I have trusted people I talk with. Or I tell myself the situation like my trusted person is telling me. Then I give them advice or how to deal with the emotion. Then I practice that on myself.

    It works. It really does. But it’s effing exhausting. It’s why I have zero capacity for anything this year.

    People don’t ruminate? Are those the same people who don’t have an internal monologue? How do these people talk to themselves? Out loud? I’m so fascinated by that….

  4. I’ve done a decent job of learning to tell the mean lady in my head to STFU. But it still happens. Last night was an excellent example. Alas, it requires a backstory.

    I have been working on a matter since it came back last fall. I am dealing with a very passive-aggressive co-counsel who has the primary contact with the client, so most of my instruction comes through her. I have inferred from her behavior over the past @ 6 months that she wants to replace me with a friend of hers,* and in a series of incremental steps, she has succeeded in doing so. It came to a head this week, when her buddy presented a crappy memo on the same topic I had worked on a year ago, I responded with a very polite e-mail noting my concerns with the analysis at various points, and her response was that, well, since no one had looked at this before, her buddy had to dive in and do all of this. Yeah, no: her buddy flatly ignored all the work I did last year, didn’t chat with me or consult me, and then just slid right by the key legal issue. So I responded — equally passive-aggressively, but in a way that delineated the work I had done and phrased it as I just wanted to be sure she had looked at that, and I was so! happy! to hear that she did! And then I told my friend in the Firm who is the primary client contact that it’s time to tell the client that we need to just let the other lawyers take over, because I am just $@%!Y tired of dealing with a situation where every. single. email. and. call. is either gaslighting** or a dig so subtle you can’t even call her out on it (or, in most cases, both).

    So what happened last night? I couldn’t stop playing the possible conversation with the client over in my head. Do I try to illustrate the passive-aggressive? And if so, how do I do that without looking like I’m whining/making excuses? How does the conversation go? What were all those little incidents that happened over the past six months, and look at all the things I should have done to handle them differently, and how do I talk about that now if it comes up? Or do I just deal straight-up and say she needs to turn it over to the other lawyer or replace me, because she’s not getting value from my time (they’ve relegated me to the work a 3rd-year associate can do at half my price). Etc. etc. etc. — options, alternatives, what if it goes this way, what if it goes that.

    And I could NOT make my damn brain shut up. I was up for all hours of the night, just in anticipation of this one call that hasn’t even been scheduled yet — and dreading getting back on the computer/phone with co-counsel again today and dealing with more of it.

    *After decades with my mother, I have a Ph.D in divining unstated inferences and expectations.

    **Standard conversation:

    Client: what color is the sky?
    Me: sky is blue
    Other lawyer and buddy: I don’t understand — the sky is frog. [Buddy nods: the sky is frog]
    [further discussion ensues about how the sky is frog and they just don’t quite understand why I’d be saying it’s blue.]
    Later that day/next day:
    Other lawyer: I’m so glad you’ve agree that the sky is blue and we’re all on the same page!

  5. I definitely think about things in depth to come to solutions or decisions. What I don’t do much of is second guess decisions that were already made. I mean, I have regrets, but I don’t tend to wallow in them that much. I will remember – “We really should have done X, let’s not make that mistake again.” But I don’t do a lot of obsessive thinking about it. I don’t know if that is what is really meant here by ruminating.

    I will say this – I am not one to ponder the meaning of life or philosophy. (sorry RMS) I am unconcerned with questions like “why are we here?” This always comes up on personality tests.

  6. Do I think about how I should have handled a situation at work or with a friend differently? Sure – sometimes. Do I need to vent about doofuses and a-holes sometimes? (thinking of LfB’s example) Absolutely!!! Is it getting in the way of my other thoughts? Only if I’m still really actively angry.

  7. I need further explanation or an example to decide if I qualify.

    I have a bunch of certifications without which it would be very hard for me to find a new job. I check on them every once and a while as you need to be retested to keep them active. Well I went to check on them and they were gone. OMG! OMG! I’m never going to work again. What are we going to do! All our future plans are ruined! What’s the nicest condo in Florida I can afford just on social security? etc. etc. Click here if you think there is an error. Send an e-mail. Spend the weekend obsessing. Monday. “Sorry, we’ve just updated our system and your records ended up being attached to you old user name.”

    Now as soon as I saw they were gone I checked my e-mail to confirm I had received an e-mail about a year ago confirming everything was in order. So I knew it was fine. But I couldn’t stop worrying about it.

  8. I’d say I’m similar to Ivy. I rarely ponder questions like “why are we here?” and am more interested in given that we’re here, how do we make things better? I do have a strong interior monologue – but I don’t usually ruminate. I will sometimes if there’s an interpersonal conflict or challenge or I’m feeling really frustrated or irritated. I find going for a run and letting myself vent to myself during the run helps.

  9. Rhett, I ruminate about anything and everything and I have no idea how to stop. So I’m no help at all.

  10. Rhett, just think of all the people you know who can’t be bothered getting certifications or a steady job, and yet somehow the sun still rises and they have somewhere to live and food to eat :). Have you ever met anyone who is actually eating cat food?

  11. I’m very much a ruminator. For me, it tends to be about work issues more than other things. Rhett, your 10:59 example rang really true to me. I am contemplating therapy to try to address it.

  12. I am definitely a ruminator. My brain’s preferred time is 3am-5:30-ish, so that I can get back into a deep sleep in time for the alarm and this awake super groggy.

    I am a fixer by nature, so my most common topics are the well-being of loved ones and how I can help them fix their lives. I’m aware no one needs my advice, so then I have to try out different conversation approaches to find one that might work. (Then in real life, when I casually bring something up and they immediately agree, it throws me completely off.).

    It’s weird because I’m pretty decisive in my day to day life and don’t second guess myself. This is really just a middle of the night issue, and primarily on life-issues rather than work stuff. My grandmother and mother had/have the same sleep issues, so I’m assuming this is just a way for my brain to fill the time at night. I guess that’s the first thing I need to figure out – chicken or egg?

  13. Have you ever met anyone who is actually eating cat food?

    Yeh!! YEH!! There is the neatly dressed homeless man who hangs out in front of Starbucks. He used to spend his days in Starbucks before the pandemic. He has his granny cart with all his worldly belongings. What’s his story? Maybe he lost his certifications!

  14. Hey, I don’t worry about why we’re here either!

    My ruminations are really useless. A lot of it is waking at 3:00am and remembering something mean I said to Steve Iverson in fifth grade, and Steve totally didn’t deserve it, and I was just being an insensitive little shit. Anti-depressants help with that to some extent, but not entirely.

  15. I am straight up in the Rhett camp on this one. It has only been made worse in the last year in a half by realizing that yes, the bottom can in fact, fall out of everything. Like Rhode I have to make a conscious choice to stop myself from going down the rabbit hole. Meditation helps. Also, I read a book last year titled, “Get Out of Your Head” by Jennie Allen (she’s a Christian author so if that’s not your thing, it might not be the book for you). The entire book can be summed up with her statement that, “You have a choice.” You don’t have to keep thinking thoughts that come in your head. You can choose to think about something else. This sounds so simple, but when I start drifting into unhelpful thoughts I will tell myself, “you have a choice.” I work very hard to think about things I want and not be whipsawed by the unhelpful voice in my head.

  16. I ruminate but it’s gotten better since my anxiety was really bad (2016-17). Now I just find myself feeling anxious but not rising to the level of the unending internal monologue about any particular thing, just the anxious feeling, so sometimes I have to figure out what it is that’s bothering me so I can tell my lizard brain to shut up. Limited success, but it’s better than it was a few years ago when I could cry for 2 hours about some imagined pain in my side >>> everything is terrible. Right now I think it’s a few things that are taking up space: (1) when will my knee feel better; (2) when will my wrists feel better; (3) when will I be able to get the vaccine; (4) what should we do about the kids’ school; (5) what should we do about camp this summer. So even if I’m not internally monologuing about it, I have those things taking up mental space and making me worried.

  17. ” I do have a strong interior monologue – but I don’t usually ruminate. I will sometimes if there’s an interpersonal conflict or challenge or I’m feeling really frustrated or irritated. I find going for a run and letting myself vent to myself during the run helps.”

    @SSM – This is me exactly too, especially the exercise part to work through a problem.

    That HBR article made sense to me to. I tend to want to move from thinking/venting to action pretty quickly. And if there is no action to take/out of my control – then let that part go.

    I can think of examples where this wasn’t the case & I spent a lot of time worrying about things that were out of my control, but they are more rare. I remember feeling extremely anxious in the first few weeks of the Covid situation last March. I couldn’t sleep – I kept thinking about all the what ifs and couldn’t concentrate on anything because I was so tense thinking about all the things that could go wrong – for us, for the world, etc. That took more time to get through than usual for sure.

  18. I am not a ruminator. That’s because I tend to take action ASAP. I don’t procrastinate much at all. Things come in, they are attended to and moved to the done pile. Or if pending, they are moved to the to do list. The to do list is checked every morning. Nothing on the to do list can be done at 3.00 am, so I sleep fine.

    In Rhett’s losing certification worry, I’d email, wait the required time for them to get back to me and then call. I wouldn’t sit there worrying waiting for them to get back to me.

  19. Occasionally yes. More the situation LfB describes, where I’m dealing with a difficult personality at work and my brain can get stuck thinking about it. Rarely the type of situation Rhett describes.

    What helps me the most is meditation. I use the meditation studio app on my phone and
    there’s a meditation for everything. Listening to one about letting something be, or focused breathing, lets my brain have peace.

  20. This post prompted me to call the guy at TIAA and ask him where on their #$!*& website is my cap gains information. I also downloaded the regular tax documents and now I’ll do the HSA stuff. Then I can stop ruminating about them!

  21. I ruminate in the short term irrational worry sense. I ruminate in advance, mapping out endless variations on conversations about to occur on contentious topics in the near future. I ruminate in the deep past, replaying humiliations, missteps, and my own cruelties to others going back to wetting myself in first grade. But I sleep very well. I would be happy to drown out that sort of auto replay in my head with external stimuli such as music or podcasts or audio books, but the internal feed is like the chassis rattling music coming from a bass heavy souped up sound system three lanes away at a traffic light. Outdoor activity is best to clear my head, and engaging video plus audio second best. Even in human company I will drift into my head and sometimes even starting vocalizing wrt to internal monologue. My family just eye rolls.

  22. There is definitely an element of how the brain the wired, and you have to train your brain to think/take action in another way. Just “taking action ASAP’ isn’t going to work for ruminator types.

    Rhett – I have a coworker who forgot to get his 24 hours of Continuing Ed and had his license expire (every two years you need 24 hrs). This is a big deal and any sales he made once it expired is fraud and could mean jail time (and it happens). He was told that they could reinstate it if he did all 24 hours by the end of the week. He asked if he could just retake the exam, and the guy was like, we’ve never had anyone ask that before, but I suppose you could. Now the exam takes several hours, is fairly difficult, and includes sections that we do not work in or sell. He last took the exam 25 years ago. A lot of rules and regulations and what have you have changed. He went, passed, and back in business. That is the confidence of a true salesman. I would have quit my job and found a new career.

  23. Rhett – on the lost certifications, would you call it rational or irrational? Like, what do you think the probability is that they actually were all lost? And how difficult would it be to start getting them back to the point that you are employable again? In the moment, would thinking through any of this help, or is it something that you logically know is completely irrational, but still can’t stop thinking about it.

    I haven’t been losing any sleep since last November when I had that two week thing at work that I felt like there was no way I would ever be adequately prepared for. It went fine; it wasn’t flawless. In my mind, it could have been a lot better, but considering the reduced resources they were willing to commit to it, and what I delivered given those constraints, I think they got an excellent value.

    DW has more nights than I do waking up at 3 am *thinking* about stuff. A lot of it has been COVID and school related: when were her parents — even my parents — going to get vaccines, was irreparable damage happening to our youngest because elem. school instruction has been such a joke this past year, etc. Sometimes I wake up at 5:30 and she’s gone, either moved to the guest room or the couch so as not to wake me up, too.

  24. “Have you ever met anyone who is actually eating cat food?”

    Yes! And worse. Bad things happen a lot. To undeserving people. I ruminate a lot. I hadn’t realized that people do not.

  25. is it something that you logically know is completely irrational, but still can’t stop thinking about it.

    Totally. I knew 99.999999% it was fine. But the thoughts would keep popping into my head.

  26. Re: certifications – my professional certifications are on a 2 year cycle. I recently realized I hadn’t tracked them very well last year and spent an hour locating them in emails and reaching out for new copies due to corrupted files. I have 9 months left but was in a panic because of the corrupted files and my poor record keeping. Turns out I need only 6 more credits – so 2 -3webinars? – to be completed by year end. What a relief!

    I have a tough decision to make about the kids’ schooling and have been mulling the options and trying to get better information about our choices for months. Once I (with DH of course) decide our course of action, I’ll be able to let it go. Just not there yet.

  27. “DW has more nights than I do waking up at 3 am *thinking* about stuff.”

    IME, rumination is rarely about the specific “thing” and is most always free-floating anxiety looking to attach itself to something so your brain can work it out. When I’m in a good place, nights like last night don’t happen often. I’m not in a good place right now by and large, and yesterday’s conversation was just an outlet for that stress to express itself.

    The irony being that I don’t even care about maintaining this client at all, and I have my friend’s full support on the issue (when thing started to go south, her comment was basically that if they don’t realize you’re exactly what they need, screw ’em). So I was lying awake stressing over the situation, while at the same time wondering wth I’m doing lying awake stressing over something I don’t really care about.

    See, I’m so good at anxiety I get anxiety about being anxious. Meta-anxiety.

    I’ve also done it all my life from as far back as I can remember and assumed everyone else did too. I had no idea that it was a symptom of anxiety until just a few years ago; I thought it was just my brain cleverly preparing me for any situation.

  28. @Kerri – I have spent a lot of time thinking over the options & making those big decisions – switching schools, moving. But not much time worrying once it’s done.

  29. Oh, yeah: and “taking action” isn’t a cure for me, because I largely ruminate about things that are out of my control. If they’re in my (sole) control, I’ll just deal with it.

  30. Finn, but ruminating implies an internal mental activity in which you beat yourself up along with the dead horse, not your circle of friends.

  31. “See, I’m so good at anxiety I get anxiety about being anxious. Meta-anxiety.”

    LfB – this is why you’re my people. I said this exact thing to my therapist. I’ve ruminated on why I have nothing to ruminate about. It’s a deep rabbit hole of “why is my brain quiet…”. And yet my brain doesn’t realize it’s being very loud about being quiet.

    Again with LfB – if the situation is in my control, I got it. I’m good. If it’s not, or my part relies on others, or… well you get the idea… I’ll find the piece to ruminate about.

    Back in November, I had a job interview. I knew I was pretty high up there on choices… and I ruminated on the positive – what if I did get it? What would happen? How would my team take it (my boss is supportive of me, and the others would be thrilled)? What if… what if… what if…. Ultimately I didn’t get the job – it was slightly out of my field, even though I had every other skill they were looking for. And I do wonder why I wasted so much energy panicking about the very positive thing of the new job and pay raise…. I’m a weirdo.

  32. “beat yourself up along with the dead horse”

    Does rumination necessarily involve beating yourself up?

    The definition Rhett posted up top doesn’t say anything about that.

  33. “Lately I’ve been ruminating about storm windows.”

    Only because I am in the process of selecting replacement windows and the company to install them, I am up to date on this topic. At least in my part of the country, storm windows are no more for installations or replacements. Apparently because the default is double pane and vinyl or fiberglass frames which are much stronger than the standard wood windows of the past, even double pane ones (which we currently have).

    NoB – for your recent replacements, double-pane and no storm windows?

  34. See, I’m so good at anxiety I get anxiety about being anxious.

    Meh, not impressed. I ruminate about bad or embarrassing things that could of happened in the past but didn’t.

  35. Finn,

    I can’t figure out what’s going on. Have there been multiple magnitude +7 quakes there today?

  36. Three big quakes this morning! I can’t believe we all slept through the 7.1 one (I was up 4 other times for unrelated issues in the night, #kidsareprecious). I totally woke up for the 4.something 6 months ago, so I am usually all over the natural disaster stuff. We are not under Tsunami warning (yet) because the natural barriers to our waterfront are pretty good. Our house is about 30m above sea level, so no worries there. The hospital is about 2m above sea level (as is most of the town’s housing.)

    I just imagine poor Jacinda Ardern waking up at 2am with 3 solid minutes of shaking. And thing, “OMG, what am I going to have to deal with today. Why can’t NZ ever be easy??”

  37. Holy crap, that 7.3 epicenter is basically right on them — Ada, really really hope everyone is safe!

  38. Ada whew!

    Because you need earthquakes and tsunamis on top of all the Covid evacuees, right?

  39. “‘See, I’m so good at anxiety I get anxiety about being anxious.’

    Meh, not impressed. I ruminate about bad or embarrassing things that could of happened in the past but didn’t.”

    Meh. For years I would ruminate over what I’d do if a vampire or werewolf broke into my house at night. Even though I knew there was not even a remote chance they existed. Also, what I’d do if a T-Rex poked his head through my window (sole bedroom on the converted-attic second floor).

  40. I am a total ruminator. I didn’t realize until now that what I was doing was called rumination. It’s like a constant tickertape that just keeps playing in my brain and it’s so damn hard to turn off. Lemon Tree’s daughter, yep that’s me. As is waking up at 3 am, thinking about dumb things that I did years ago or last week, or just thinking about things that I regret doing/not doing with family members that have passed. I can go on and on.

    I find that hard, physical workouts help quiet the brain chatter. Jeanne-Marie, it’s so true that ruminating is a choice. I’m going to work on that.

  41. “At least in my part of the country, storm windows are no more for installations or replacements.”

    This surprises me.

    Ruminating further…

    One reason is I recently saw an episode of Ask This Old House that covered installing a storm window. OTOH, I forgot where that was, so maybe not your part of the country.

    The other is that I’ve heard/read multiple place recently that storm windows are an alternative to replacing windows that’s worth considering, especially when affordability is a driver. Apparently there are now options that can be opened and don’t have to be seasonally installed/removed.

    I get that for totebaggers, for whom affordability is not an issue, the aesthetics and convenience of new windows can justify the higher cost. But I’m surprised that they’re not an option for non-totebaggers for whom the lower cost would be a major selling point.

  42. If you’re looking for something legitimate to worry about (instead of T-Rex 😀) I’ve got a story. Some friends’ish of ours were at a ski resort with another group, and the second group had rented a nice, new VRBO townhouse/condo. Long story short, one guy woke up in the middle of the night feeling awful, went to the bathroom, and collapsed. On his way to the floor, he grabbed the shower curtain and tore the rod down, which made such a loud clatter it woke his wife. She also felt terrible, like she could barely move. Maybe she yelled something to the people downstairs (likewise sick) and someone was able to dial 911. One possibility was food poisoning, but the dispatcher sent the fire department and told them to open all the windows or get out or whatever. (Don’t think they had storm windows.)

    You can probably guess, they were all being killed by carbon monoxide. They were OK after getting some fresh air, and at 2:30 am moved into the basement of our friends’ house.

    Apparently the VRBO owner was reasonably accommodating about giving them a later checkout time, but was still eager to get them out before the next guests. They tried to incredulously stress how serious this was, but he assured them that he had someone who would come look at the furnace and take care of whatever needed fixed.

    So now I’ve got up add portable CO detectors to my packing lists, in perpetuity.

    I think if he had not ripped out the shower curtain, they all would have asphyxiated.

  43. Milo, it’s the brain aneurysms that get me. Generally undetectable and unpreventable, and then one day poof! everything just stops, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

  44. “is there a tsunami watch up for HI?”

    Yes, that’s how I heard about quake.

    I’m not too worried, Our house is on a hill, elevation almost 600′.

  45. My kids’ school is about 0.5m above sea level, but we just got an email that said the risk is small and they won’t let the kids on the beach during tea time or lunch today.

  46. That is super scary Milo! And the VRBO owner should refund them their money. I will admit that when we are at VRBOs I check for the CO detectors. Stuff like that scares me.

    LfB, don’t forget to add aortic aneurysms to your list. Those will kill you instantly.

  47. “For years I would ruminate over what I’d do if… a T-Rex poked his head through my window”

    OK, so I’ve always done this sort of rumination. Without beating myself up.

  48. “Because you need earthquakes and tsunamis on top of all the Covid evacuees, right?”

    Wasn’t NZ a favored rich peoples’ hunker down location?

    Things like these earthquakes and tsunami will help limit that.

  49. My days are full of people who are not instantly dying from their various aneurysms. Aortic ones can be managed with “watchful waiting” for years. Does that help?

  50. It isn’t just NZ. Iceland is getting rocked by earthquakes this week…and Mt. Etna is booming.

  51. I’m ruminating on why Mooshi’s school district does not post assignments online. The future in education is already here, hastened by the pandemic by years.

  52. Milo, did you see the Superyacht dock crash in St. Maarten. Very lucky that one one was hurt, and surprisingly the yacht isn’t too badly damaged.
    According to this guy, the supercomputer failed.

  53. Hey Milo or Mafalda, do you think this guy is in for a surprise WRT how much it costs to own and maintain a boat?

    “Powerboats, of course, do not come cheap. One like Farris purchased can range from $20,000 to $200,000-plus. He says this is a good trade-off to vacation spending, however. “The entry point is high, but after that it’s just gas,”he says.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/vacation-fund-money-recreation-purchases/2021/03/04/dda11df0-76d7-11eb-9537-496158cc5fd9_story.html

  54. Tsunami watch canceled for Hawai’i.

    Ada, how are things there? I’m hoping no news is good news.

  55. Oh man, now I am ruminating on carbon monoxide poisoning possibilities. When I was 16 or 17, we had a carbon monoxide incident. My mom and I came home from my confirmation class, and I noticed a very strong rotten egg odor. I have a terrible sense of smell but for whatever reason I kept insisting that something was wrong. My dad who had been home didn’t notice anything. My mom said she smelled it faintly. After me going on about it, she called the gas company. It turned out it was a carbon monoxide leak. What if we had all been home when it started? Why was I so insistent? Now I’m ruminating on carbon monoxide leaks even though we have detectors and if my kids are being poisoned by radon even though I have done tests and it is fine.

    This thread makes me anxious! I think I will choose to ruminate on T-Rex attacks instead.

  56. I will say that I do now struggle with the waking up at 4 am and having difficulty getting back to sleep. I’ve always been a daydreamer though – so rather than ruminating about worries/negative things, if counting sheep to get back to sleep isn’t successful, I try to day dream about something pleasant (e.g. what would my ideal house be like). Kind of like JM said about you can choose what you think about. I try to reframe this time as my “meditation” time (though I would greatly prefer it be spent sleeping).

  57. “NoB – for your recent replacements, double-pane and no storm windows?”

    Yes, exactly that.

    I envy those of you who don’t ruminate. LfB and Rhett, thanks for giving me a laugh about the anxiety one-upsmanship. I would participate but I’m too tired because I barely slept last night because I was anxiously ruminating.

    I have ordered the book that J-M mentioned, and downloaded the meditation app that Lark mentioned. I have a Zoom appointment with a counselor on Monday. Thanks to this post, I’ve been inspired to try to tackle my issues head-on.

  58. Finn – while it’s a little more than “just gas,” I think his overall sentiment is basically correct. A Malibu is a fancy ski / wake boat. I think ongoing costs start to get really expensive when you get into something with bedrooms and bathrooms.

  59. Fred – I think you plaster recently about putting in for another job. How’s that process going?

    OT, I’m getting better at managing my ruminating the older I get. That, and as we’ve said before, many problems can be made better by throwing money at them. So, I’ve tried to not obsess for too long about things for which the answer can be made better with that. Another thing I’ve gotten better at, and I’m trying to teach my kiddos, is that almost every single problem looks better in the morning, with a good night’s sleep and a fresh brain to assess the situation.

    Louise, you are again proving your sainthood by admitting you simply don’t procrastinate. I always do. My whole life is basically me wasting time until I’m an inch away from failing and then being crazy productive to finish by a deadline. We’ve had 5 weeks to do performance reviews. I’m actually sitting here feeling proud of myself because I finished mine with a whole day to spare! As expected, I didn’t even start any of them until the final week.

  60. Finn – I think wakesurfing might give you an aneurysm. You take a nice, relatively efficient speed boat and flood it with 5,000 pounds of lake water so its ass rides really low and drags through the water. All this to produce a wake of sufficient size that one can actually surf the wave perpetually, no tow rope required. It takes a lot of horsepower, torque and fuel to do that.

  61. “The other is that I’ve heard/read multiple place recently that storm windows are an alternative to replacing windows that’s worth considering, especially when affordability is a driver. Apparently there are now options that can be opened and don’t have to be seasonally installed/removed.”

    Finn — The old part of our house has original single-pane windows (ca. 1890) with storms. The storms are the kind that stay in all year — when the weather gets warm you just slide up the bottom half of the glass and slide down the screen. You do the opposite when the weather gets cold. Easy. When we first moved in, the windows themselves were a mess — some didn’t open, some would open but would not stay up, and they all rattled horribly when it was windy. We looked into replacing them, but the replacement-window guy actually told us not to — his basic message was, “they don’t make them like this any more.” So we hired a window-restoration company, and they re-balanced all the windows so they now work great, in tandem with the storms.

  62. “Another thing I’ve gotten better at, and I’m trying to teach my kiddos, is that almost every single problem looks better in the morning, with a good night’s sleep and a fresh brain to assess the situation.”

    Unless your ruminating about the problem keeps you up all night so you’re a wreck in the morning! Then the problem seems even worse! Ugh.

  63. Well, ive been ruminating and rehearsing my arguments for just ended zoom volunteer bd meeting, where I expected the incorporation issue to become my next headache. The prez and I were against it, but the advocate is a national officer and former unit and district president. Didnt come up, so it is dead. About to have a celebratory rather than a consoling shot of my 25 yr old Glenfiddich.

  64. NoB, thanks for a perfect example of where storms make sense.

    Were they already installed when you moved in, or did you install them?

  65. Sunshine – I get things like performance reviews, training etc done and out of the way. I try to have a buffer of time so if any other urgent thing comes up, I don’t have to juggle two deadlines. It started mostly when my kids were little. They would fall sick, I had to pick them up from daycare, keep them home. This resulted in a time crunch on the work front. I couldn’t predict that I would be able to complete work items at the last minute.

  66. Rumination on the tough times….
    There were two times in my career, where I was on the verge of taking a leave of absence. Both times my kids were sick with no concrete diagnosis, they returned to normal after months and many visits to various doctors. I am sympathetic to people going through issues on the home front. In my workplace the norm has been to include your immediate team, your manager who then tells the highest level manager. Your immediate work team covers for you. Everyone else is on a need to know basis. I have been grateful to my immediate teams over the years. They have been very different people but each of them came through in a crisis. You return the favor by covering for other people who need time off.

  67. I just went for a walk during lunch and saw a man eating out of a small tin can. I tried to look very hard to see if it was cat food, but I couldn’t tell.

  68. https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2021/03/hunt-gather-parent-timeless-advice-for-modern-parents/618172/

    A thinking type of person has visited some simpler tribal cultures and decided that they’re better parents than we [educated, mc/umc American parents] are.

    TL;DR three key points:

    1. Stop with all the overpraising. If your kid actually didn’t make a beautiful, amazing picture, don’t bullshit her that it is. Riding down a playground slide is not remarkable.

    2. Don’t feel obligated to make all your kid together time kid-oriented. You don’t have to pretend to enjoy children’s “museums.” Just do what you would do on any other Saturday, with your kid.

    3. Recognize the importance and encourage the support of additional parental figures in your kids’ lives.

    My thoughts: I actually agree with all of it, in moderation, not in absolutes. But it’s mostly only directed at a certain slice of parents — probably the kind that read childrearing articles in The Atlantic, conveniently enough. Also, we’re past the kids’ ages that it’s targeting, so it’s all a moot point now, anyway.

  69. “That, and as we’ve said before, many problems can be made better by throwing money at them.”

    This! DH made me realize that almost all of the things I stress about — both rumination and analysis paralysis — come from the assumption that this is my one and only shot at it, so I have to get it exactly right, and if I mess it up I’m screwed. Whereas he always thinks what’s the realistic worst-case scenario, and it’s never that bad. When I was literally shaking and on the point of tears thinking about spending so much money on my car, he walked through the math: what if I hate it or we suddenly need the money or whatever and we sell it in a year? We’re out maybe $10K. It’s not ideal, but it’s also not going to derail our lives, and it’s worth the risk for a 25-yr-old dream.

    I do this now with all sorts of things — the fridge dying was the recent one. There are so many choices, and no real way to tell the difference, so how can you NOT ruminate on which option will be best? And then we went to HD and dropped $200 on a temporary fridge to save most of the food and buy us a few weeks, because it’s only $200. And then we went to the appliance store and bought the one that I liked best, because in the end it’s only a few grand. It is *tremendously* freeing to really know that a less-than-optimal decision is fundamentally meaningless.

  70. Sunshine –
    yes I “plastered” for a job that I would really like to land…I think (only because you never know till you’re in it what the job really entails).

    Reality is that because of previously announced org movements this job opening, a newly created position, should be pulled until the new hiring executive is recruited and onboard. Which will be a while yet. The incumbent’s leaving was announced a while back, but the search for the his backfill hasn’t begun. Seems most logical to let the new person hire (me) so I’m his/her guy vs maybe being looked at like I should be reorganized out as s/he builds his/her own team.

    long way of saying, no action yet. The job is still posted on the web fwiw.

  71. I guess when I read an article discussing obsessing thinking that interferes with normal mental function. i dont include evaluation of alternatives and advance planning, even if taken to a timewasting degree. If it leads to analysis paralysis, maybe. Or the sort of extended internet forum discussion whose main purpose is (take your pick) an alleviator of boredom, an outlet for frustration, a need to assert moral or intellectual superiority, or merely a form of social contact for the housebound, even if it veers into beat a dead horse territory. There is an aspect of rumination as a negative trait that implies real harm to the individual because they get stuck in a negative feedback loop, hence beating themselves up, albeit often with just a wet noodle. Or leading to sleep deprivation or worse.

    And Finn, i cannot purchase storms, even if it were my choice, which it is not. I live in a condo complex that specifies exterior details down to the front door handles. And the 16 33 yr old builder grade wood windows are leaky around the frames. I have replaced panes to improve R value, and did replace the front door with HOA approved optional storm/screen door, but the time has come for these many windows. It is not just for energy efficiency but a needed long term repair/upgrade.

  72. I have something new to ruminate on. We got a letter from the IRS yesterday stating we owe $24k in back taxes, interest and penalties from 2018. The gist is I took money out of my Roth, which was from contributions, not gains, but I didn’t report it correctly. So the IRS is saying it’s taxable income.

  73. Anon – this exact thing happen to my friend several weeks ago…She also took money out of Roth (contributions only). By the time she got the letter she was past the 30 day appeal. She appealed anyway. Then, a few weeks later she got a letter stating she didn’t file for 2019 (she did), and the date of the letter was February 15 (President’s Day – IRS is closed, and she got the letter a week earlier). Something is going on with the IRS.

  74. Anon for taxes: you can still file an amended return for 2018 which should clear a lot of that up.

  75. Anon,

    Did you not report it correctly or did your Roth IRA provider not report it correctly? I had to help a friend with an issue like this and I was shocked at how incompetent the HR department and the giant 401k vendor was. You know that phrase, “You had one job.”

  76. “I just went for a walk during lunch and saw a man eating out of a small tin can. I tried to look very hard to see if it was cat food, but I couldn’t tell.”

    Maybe it was fancy French tuna! (not from Costco, of course)

    @Milo – I read that article in The Atlantic, and I also agreed with most of it in moderation. I have always been annoyed by overpraising. I like how she said they would often nod or smile without acting like the kid was a genius for doing everyday things.

    How would you translate that to older kids?

    @Anon For Taxes – Fred +1

  77. The instructions said to submit a form 8606 (I don’t think I submitted one in the first place), so I filled that out, and am submitting it along with a letter of explanation, also per their instructions. We’ll see if this takes care of it.

    I figure if this doesn’t work, I’ll call one of those guys who advertise on the radio that they knocked people’s IRS bills down from $120k to $1,200 :)

  78. When I was literally shaking and on the point of tears thinking about spending so much money on my car

    LfB, I had a major panic attack when we bout the Highlander because I was still in nursing school.

    I have always been annoyed by overpraising.

    I’ve always heard that you should praise the effort, not the results.

  79. “I’ve always heard that you should praise the effort, not the results.”

    @DD – Me too. And I do agree for the most part. It’s the parents who are screaming with delight at everything their kid does at the playground…or yes, acting like every drawing is a masterpiece.

  80. DD & LfB – I’m have pre-panic over our next car purchase. This is brought on because my current car (that I want to keep for another 3-4 years) is making a rattle I don’t like. We’re still paying off DH’s Outback, and we don’t have the extra money for the payment. So I’m panicking that I’ll have to buy a new car. I’ve had to remind myself that people drive rattle-filled cars all the time and it will be OK. Plus, I can afford the mechanic visit to see if they just need to tighten something. But no, my brain has immediately found the panic button and sat on it.

    Anon – I agree with others. Something funky is going on. DH’s employer was super late with one form, and one of our income streams (an annuity payment) sent us the wrong tax form. We were nearly ready to file too, based on that wrong form. I wonder how many folks are doing heavy lifting while occupied trying to find the end of Netflix.

  81. i dont include evaluation of alternatives and advance planning, even if taken to a timewasting degree. If it leads to analysis paralysis, maybe

    I would agree if the issue is just time wasted. It becomes a problem when excessive cogitating results in a faulty analysis. Faulty in the sense that if a disinterested neurotypical third party reviewed Course of Action A they would say the risk is 1:100. But after going through every possible permutation of the issue you figure the risk is 40:100.

  82. “NoB, thanks for a perfect example of where storms make sense.

    Were they already installed when you moved in, or did you install them?”

    Both. There were storms on all the windows when we bought the house, but they were old and not in great shape, so we replaced them as part of the overall restoration project.

  83. Preserving old windows is a really big thing around here. So many of them are gorgeous — old hardwood frames, elaborate shapes, wavy glass, often colored stained glass. Adding storm windows to preserve them but make the house comfortable is very common.

    This is an example of a popular local company that restores windows:

    http://www.window-woman.com/

  84. “I would agree if the issue is just time wasted. It becomes a problem when excessive cogitating results in a faulty analysis.”

    I’d also argue that it becomes a problem when the decision is causing stress/anxiety that is disproportionate to the magnitude of the decision by a significant amount.

  85. ““I’ve always heard that you should praise the effort, not the results.”

    And then you get to the work world where it works in reverse i.e. paying for results.

  86. Don’t feel obligated to make all your kid together time kid-oriented. You don’t have to pretend to enjoy children’s “museums.” Just do what you would do on any other Saturday, with your kid.

    That’s definitely how I grew up, though I’m pretty sure my mother wished to hell she could leave me at home instead of taking me along to the grocery store, since I was always asking for sugary junk.

    She did have a rule for when we did the “big marketing” on Fridays that if I shut up and didn’t whine or ask for things, I could have M&Ms at checkout. That worked, but for the “odds and ends marketing” throughout the week she wasn’t about to let me have any M&Ms. She just told me to be quiet.

  87. “Don’t feel obligated to make all your kid together time kid-oriented. You don’t have to pretend to enjoy children’s “museums.” Just do what you would do on any other Saturday, with your kid”

    I have very fond memories of following my dad around on Saturdays as he worked on his todo list. I learned a lot just by watching him, and he’d always explain if I asked him why he was doing something. He’d always look for little things I could to do contribute, e.g., go get me the screwdriver, or make sure we don’t lose any of the screws as we take something apart.

    My favorite part was when he was trying to figure something out, and he’d ask me what I thought.

    And when we finished something, he’d tell my mom, ‘we’ finished the job.

Comments are closed.