Skip to main content

Thought Loops, Rumination & Worry- How to use them as a tool for Autistics with 4 tips on how to stop the thought loop

 Thought Loops, Rumination & Worry 

How to use them as a tool for Autistics

What is it?

Mandall et al defines rumination as the "tendency to engage in sustained, repetitive thinking about negative topics."(Mandell et al., 2014, p. 35).

Overall, with variations in definition in psychology research, rumination is a pattern of thinking which is most often, but not always, linked to a negative feeling, experience from the past or future feelings that are anticipated.

* Replaying a conversation that has happened
* Scripting every scenario for a future conversation

Rumination refers to thinking about events in the past.
Worry refers to thinking about events in the future.

Beneficial Tool vs. Harmful Behavior

The harmful affects of rumination and worry can be:
*Loss of sleep
* Easily agitated
* Increase in anxiety & depression
* Impact your emotions and can change your world view along with your sense of safety.


The brain cannot distinguish easily between what is actually happening and what you are telling it is happening.

Turning Rumination and Worry into reflective tools can:
*Help process and better understand past events
*Help plan and gain insight for future events.

4 Tips to help stop the harmful thought loops:

1. Write it down- writing engages the logical, cognitive side of the brain and gets you out of the imaginative side.

2. Set aside time each day to "feel your feelings"- setting time aside where you know you have time to reflect, observe and identify your feelings allows you the control for the rest of the day to engage a STOP tool visual or phrase to stop the harmful thought loops that do not serve you as a beneficial tool.  Imagine a stop sign in your head, engage a physical reinforcement to shift your brain into awareness by tapping your toe as if you are applying the brake on the car.  You can also add an auditory or thought phrase on its own or in combination with the imagery and action.  I say, "I don't go down thought rabbit holes that do not serve me. Move on."  You choose what works for you.

3. Reframe- This simply means you restate the negative thought in a way that is beneficial.  For example, "I made a mistake because I am stupid." Reframe this: "I made a mistake because I overlooked something, so next time I will look more closely in the future."

4. Gratitude-Choosing to focus on what went well and acknowledging it.  The more you practice seeing the good the more your brain begins to find and see the good automatically.

Taking back control of your thoughts and how they serve you is a gift you can give yourself each day.  It takes awareness and practice, but with continued exercise it becomes an automated behavior just like the automation of brushing your teeth.  The brain seeks first to protect and second to conserve energy. 

Our brain conserves energy by automating our behaviors and actions.  You no longer think through each step of brushing your teeth from picking up the brush to how you apply the bristles to your teeth, you just do it on autopilot.  Our thoughts, good or harmful, become automated in the same way.  

Try brushing your teeth with the opposite hand for a week and see what happens.  If you do this opposite action for long enough it becomes an automated habit to brush with the opposite hand.  But remember the longer you have done something on autopilot the more time and continued practice it takes to change the action or behavior.  Time is your friend and repetition is the way to change.


Popular posts from this blog

Trauma is NOT Linear for Autistics with Alexithymia

by Carole Jean Whittington, January 25, 2022 A large part of #lateidentifiedlife is recognizing and processing past trauma.  This is far from a linear process.  There is no direct path from A to Z. Throw alexithymia into the mix and you have a whole other experience on this trauma path.  The delayed realizations that hit you out of what feels like nowhere.  You have one conversation and one phrase or feeling unlocks a cascade of other past experiences and emotions you never noticed before.  All of a sudden past events come flooding in for you to make sense of and process. Days later you are beginning to notice that there were relationships and people who treated you very badly and who hurt you, but you did not realize it at the time.  You were in survival mode as an unidentified autistic.                             ______________________________________________________ Often the fear of rejection dominates our thoughts and we experience that emotional hurt as a deeply physical pain. 

If you are Autistic & ADHD waking up to a pile of dirty laundry SUCKS! Join me for a HACK to make this easier.

  Did you reflect on the question from yesterday, “Do you believe that how you spend your morning tells you what kind of day you are going to have?” Most people never stop to consider this fully.  What were your thoughts on this, is it true for you or not true for you? The answer lies in your reflection.  It is both true and false simultaneously and wholly based on what you agree to believe.  There is a belief that high levels of cortisol are bad and because it is often called the “stress hormone” it means, by our interpretation that it is bad for us. However, cortisol is in reality good for us, necessary and serves us well.  ************************************************************  Here are a few examples of how cortisol serves us and is beneficial when it is in balance: -Cortisol is part of our internal alarm system and when we are under threat or pressure cortisol is released to allow our fight or flight response to be at the ready to keep us safe. -Normal levels of cortisol are

Did You Even Know You Had Been "Masking" for Decades? Autistic Masking and The Picture of Dorian Gray- Reflections on Similarities

  Chances are your answer is no, just like mine was. In the novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, the main character, Dorian, lives two very different lives in physical reflection.  One life is his outer body which remains young and attractive, and the other is his portrait which ages and reflects all the external happenings instead of his actual outward appearance.  Dorian remains young and handsome on the outside, while his portrait does not. I don't compare this in the strictest sense, but rather as a way to convey how I perceive autistic masking and how it manifests in both the physical exterior and the internal worlds of an individual. I didn't even know what Autistic Masking was even after the first few years of knowing I was autistic.  It is a term that you learn and become familiar with after you get into the autistic community. The definition of "Social Masking" as it is discussed in the psychology and Autism world is: Masking  is a process in w