How to Avoid Rumination

Do you often find yourself replaying scenes from your past again and again in your mind? Is there a loop in your head replaying a fear of the future that you can’t seem to let go of? Are you fixated on something about yourself and nothing can get the thought out of your head?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it sounds like you are experiencing rumination. Rumination is when a thought consumes you and nothing can seem to distract you from the thought. It is negative when you avoid taking part in other activities because of your excessive concern. To avoid this habit, we recommend the following:

Make a Reaction Diagram

Not everyone would react the same as you to the situation that you are obsessing about right now. To bring to light those differences in reactions, make a reaction diagram. List the following on a piece of paper:

Then, compare that to how you envision someone else might respond to the situation.

  • Your situation from another person’s perspective 
  • Their thoughts on the situation
  • Their feelings about the situation
  • How they would respond differently than you to the situation.

After completing this exercise, reflect on the value of your response versus the imaginary other person’s response. Is one reaction better than the other? In all likelihood, they are both equally fine responses to the situation. This should remind you that your worries are relative in that someone else might not even share the same worry in the same situation.

Learn to Interrupt Your Internal Dialogue

To interrupt your internal dialogue, engage in behavioral activation. This means getting up, participating in an activity, and quite literally “snapping out of it”. Throw yourself completely into the activity. Allow it to distract you from your rumination.


Rumination, or fixating on one thought excessively, can be detrimental to your health. To avoid rumination, make a reaction diagram and learn to interrupt your internal dialogue through behavioral activation. At Valiant Living, we can teach you these skills and more. At our men-only inpatient and outpatient facility located in the beautiful mountains of Denver, Colorado, we treat addiction and co-occurring mental illness. Our expert staff will help you stop ruminating and start living your life. To learn more, you can contact us at (303) 952-5035.