Ruminating vs. Processing. Do You Know the Difference?

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Lessons From the End of a Marriage

I often find that people are confused about the difference between ruminating on the past and processing the past. They think they are doing one when, in reality, they are often doing more of the other. I can see where the confusion exists – both ruminating and processing involve thinking about (and perhaps talking about) the past.

And that’s about where the similarities end.

So then what does separate ruminating from processing?

Ruminating

tangleRumination starts in the past and it stays in the past. It starts with thought and it stays with thought. It is time spent pondering the “what ifs” and playing choose-your-own-adventure with experiences now past. Rumination gets you nowhere. It has no goal and no purpose apart from endlessly exploring those well-tread mental paths. It can be a trap as its labyrinthine cords bind you to your past. Rumination thrives on recursive thought, one idea leading…

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