Several weeks ago, Wellness Wednesday focused on ten saboteurs that increase stress in our lives and block our happiness and effectiveness. In her book Insight, Tasha Eurich uncovers another nefarious character lying in wait to sabotage us.

Eurich refers to self-awareness as the meta-skill of the 21st century and the prerequisite for self-improvement. Thus, she refers to the importance of introspection: the process of consciously examining our thoughts, feelings, motives, and behaviors.

Within the realm of introspection, Eurich identifies the saboteur of rumination: a fixation on our fears, shortcomings, or insecurities. A Ruminator residing within us will sabotage our attempts at insight by second-guessing our choices, reminding us of our failings, and sending us down an unproductive spiral of self-criticism and self-doubt.

To see how much power the Ruminator is exerting over you, for each of the seven items below choose the number that best describes your behavior in general. Look at how you are actually behaving, rather than how you wish you were behaving.

1: Very Rarely          2: Rarely          3: Sometimes          4: Often          5: Very Often

___ 1. My attention is often focused on aspects of myself that I wish I’d stop thinking about.

___ 2. I always seem to be rehashing in my mind recent things I’ve said or done.

___ 3. Sometimes it’s hard for me to shut off negative thoughts about myself.

___ 4. I often find myself reevaluating something I’ve done.

___ 5. Long after an argument/disagreement is over, my thoughts keep going back to what    happened.

___ 6. Often I’m playing back over in my mind how I acted in a past situation.

___ 7. I spend a great deal of time thinking back over my embarrassing or disappointing moments.

Now get an average of your responses by adding the seven numbers and dividing the total by

seven. You will get a sense of the power of your Ruminator by identifying one of the three  categories your average is in.

1.0-2.3: You rarely ruminate. Though you might not be at ‘rumination zero’, you can successfully stop it in its tracks, which improves both your self-awareness and your well-being.

2.3-3.6:  You are a moderate ruminator. Sometimes you are able to notice and stop it. At other times, the Ruminator takes over, clouding your self-insight and hurting your well-being. To ruminate less, start looking for patterns: Are there certain people or situations that cause you to ruminate more?

3.7-5.0: You are a frequent ruminator. Though you may recognize when you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole, it’s difficult for you to stop ruminating, which is considerably harming your self-insight and well-being. A first step might be to get a better understanding of your triggers. Do certain situations or people set you off more than others?

Pay attention to how frequently your Ruminator shows up this week. Next week’s Wellness Wednesday will focus on how we can practice healthy introspection without being influenced by our Ruminator.

From our team…Willow, Kevin, and Tom…who challenge each other’s Ruminator.

Paul Bernabei
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