Irrational Thoughts and Ruminations: How to Manage Them
Everyone has irrational thoughts at one time or another that disrupt their normal physical and mental activities. But allowing irrational thoughts to build up creates pressure that can drain your energy. In this post, we’ll observe the ways to deal with irrational thoughts and ruminations in detail, including the following stages: identifying them, then challenging and replacing them.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on helping a person identify irrational thoughts and behaviors and replace them with beneficial ones. Book a CBT session at Mango Clinic!
What Are Irrational Thoughts?
Irrational thought is a falsehood that an individual convinces themselves is true. Believing in things that aren’t true can originate from many sources, including movies, books, friends, or strangers. But they may also come from fearful or unpleasant events, after a breakup or as a result of living in circumstances that make one feel anxious or devastated.
The result of excessive, irrational thoughts can create social, physical, and emotional problems for an individual. It can lead to anger, suspicion of betrayal, conflict, and disorder in worst-case scenarios. If the person cannot manage their irrational thinking, it can damage their career, friendships, and family relationships. Moreover, the longer a person feels anxiety, the more it is likely to transform into depression, which often requires medicine.
That is why learning how to deal with irrational thoughts is vital. And just like any other skill, it only requires time and determination. Generally, it involves replacing such thoughts with more rational ones. Now, let’s have a look at some examples of irrational thoughts and how to cope with them.
Examples of Irrational Thoughts
Irrational thinking has various levels of intensity and can be a symptom of some mental health disorders, such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, depression, and others. Here are common examples of irrational thoughts in anxiety-driven scenarios:
- Thinking everyone is out to get them.
- Failure to admit mistakes after a major setback.
- Suspecting close friends are taking advantage of them.
- Having excessive guilt after a pleasurable experience.
- Minimizing positive events in one’s life to dwell on negatives.
Challenging Irrational Thoughts
Irrational thoughts become problematic when they negatively impact one’s life or impair normal behavior. The best way to manage them is to challenge them with a set of basic questions. For example, a person can ask themselves what might happen if they let go of a negative thought. In addition, there are some extra beneficial techniques:
- Track thoughts regularly: keep a daily journal noting which thought you had, how it affected your attitude to the situation or your mood, and how you convinced yourself otherwise.
- Detach yourself from your thoughts: be objective and understand that your vision of the situation or your personality may differ from reality.
- Challenge your thoughts: seek evidence contrary to your assumptions. If you cannot find any, ask your loved ones to be objective about your thoughts about yourself or some aspect of life.
- Use cognitive restructuring: consider how a friend would view the situation. The best way to learn this technique is to try it with the help of a mental health expert.
- Seek professional guidance: the most beneficial therapeutic options for eliminating irrational thinking include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).
Do you find yourself thinking about negative events too much, being negative about your future, or having anxiety symptoms? Our doctors will help.
How Obsessive Thoughts May Influence Your Mental Well-Being
The combination of obsessions in the form of unwanted thoughts and compulsions resulting from such repeated thoughts may lead to the development of the obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It occurs when a person has an obsession to think or do the same things over and over without any definite reason. Such behavior can get to a level beyond the person’s control.
Medical researchers still can’t completely explain the causes of OCD, other than stress clearly makes it worse. Symptoms may develop in the teen years or in adulthood, and the disorder is slightly more common in women than men. People who suffered child abuse or have experienced trauma are at higher risk of developing OCD.
Another mental condition that greatly depends on one’s thinking patterns is anxiety. Anxiety can develop when an individual clouds their mind with self-doubt over an event such as a car accident. It’s important to replace obsession or distortion with more realistic and beneficial thoughts. Breathing exercises, positive mantras, and CBT sessions are helpful in such cases.
What Is Rumination?
Rumination occurs when an individual repeats the same thoughts, which can be a way to control anxiety. When a person tries to reflect on an entire conversation, they are engaging in rumination. The more the person thinks about the conversation, the closer they may feel to interpreting it a certain way. It may develop from a tragic experience or an event that could’ve been resolved a certain way but wasn’t.
A major challenge facing someone who experiences rumination is that it’s a difficult cycle of behavior to break. Rumination is sometimes confused with obsessive thinking. The difference is that with the latter, intrusive thoughts persist, raising stress levels.
Although replaying an event in your mind can be an attempt to resolve an issue, it may also be a symptom of numerous mental health conditions, including phobias, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), or major depressive disorder (MDD). The combination of multiple symptoms can indicate a mental health condition, whereas just one or two signs don’t confirm a problem.
How to Stop Rumination
The key on how to stop ruminating thoughts is to take a series of simple actions, beginning with self-distraction. When an individual realizes they’ve been ruminating, they can break the cycle by calling a friend, taking a walk, or engaging in a hobby. Then they should formulate a plan for addressing ruminating thoughts.
An important stage in overcoming rumination is for the individual to question their thoughts. They should ask themselves how accurate their perception of the facts is. From there, they can revisit their goals and sense of self-esteem. Another useful technique is meditation, which helps a person calm down and reset their thoughts.
When irrational thoughts become a regular pattern, it can be a sign of a mental health condition that requires professional treatment. Contact us at Mango Clinic for more information on how to change irrational thoughts and maintain a positive outlook on life.