28.5.09

Rumination

for me, rumination feels like this.
photo by Bruno Dayan


How do you measure success?
The older I get, the more relative it seems. The more relative everything seems. I feel I am continually gravitating toward a more pluralistic view on life, though within my chosen faith, the majority of people seem to frown upon or condemn a pluralistic view of life, living, faith.
Who is to say what is right besides God? If you don't believe in a higher being, then I guess that question is irrelevant if referring to God.
What is right and wrong, good or bad?
Ah there are so many questions to dwell on all the time.

My roommate Anne is a psychology major and just did her presentation for her big senior shpeal. She was telling me about a study that another group did about Ruminating and its correlation with depression, especially focusing in Women. The little info she had was really fascinating, and I guess easily makes sense if you really think about it. The more you ruminate, the more the dwell on thoughts, the more depressed you can be.
Here is what Wikipedia says: According to Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, women tend to ruminate when they are depressed, whereas men tend to distract themselves. This difference in response style was proposed to explain the higher rates of depression in women compared to men. Researchers have confirmed the greater likelihood of rumination in women, though the prediction that men are more likely to distract themselves has not been consistently supported.

Interesting. Now I have never really though of Rumination being a negative thing. Maybe just because of my personality type, being both highly emotional and really seeking out logic, reason, and wisdom, I find it imperatively necessary to constantly be ruminating. I would say that for more of my life I have been excruciatingly pessimistic, but within the past few years I feel like optimism has pushed its way ahead of the pessimism. I can see that my natural inclination to ruminate constantly could be deeply linked to the pessimism of my past. But the ruminating still is deeply intertwined with who I am now that I am more optimistic.

Read THIS on Rumination. It is so fascinating. It basically describes my life story all within the definition and explanations of what Rumination is. Gosh. I have never actually looked up what Rumination is in a dictionary, rather I have just accumulated ideas of what it is over time. And here it is now as the title of my blog, "Rumination Reading Room."

Rumination really does describe my life, it is kind of crazy. I can see in reading the Wikipedia article how rumination really had an unhealthy hold on the larger portion of my life. I have been through a lot of traumatic experiences even since I was very little, and I don't tend to hide away the pain or distract myself from whatever is happening at that time. I prefer to live out what is happening at the moment and really allow myself to emotionally invest in it. I would say that up until maybe 3 years ago, I usually let myself spiral into very unhealthy ways of dwelling in whatever I was experiencing. I have never been someone who self harms, binge drinks or any of those things that seem to manifest a person's pain in an obvious exterior way. Rather, I just ruminate really intensely. Pessimism and reflection can be torture enough for me, and at the same time, a release from present pain.
I am so thankful that I have been through all that I have been through though. In this way, I feel like the pessimism of my past has vanished. I used to be SO bitter I can't even tell you. My mom and dad probably remember, aw poor family. But I was so so so so bitter and tried my best to appear to have a thick hard shell. Through college I have softened so much, thank God. I ruminate just as intensely as I did when i was younger, bitter, and deeply depressed. But it is a more controlled sort of rumination. I would say I am a tiny bit neurotic at times, and fickle, but I am cool with that for now. At least I am not angry, bitter, and resentful. Sheesh.
I do try my best to seek the good out of every difficult experience. And because I do have a natural inclination to dwell in the past, I now try my best to reflect on the past with an eye of optimism, seeking out how hardship has changed me for the better, how it has shaped me and made me a better and stronger person, and a woman more deeply devoted to God.

These days, I really try to direct the rumination in healthy directions. There are so many things I could think about every second. There are SO many things i could dwell on if I let my mind wander whever it choses. Often times I feel stupid for not thinking about, researching and studying everything that all my friends have studied. But I snap out of that quickly because really now, there are so many things to study and learn about in the world, and things are always changing, no ONE person could keep up with it all!
I think I am created exactly the way I am for a purpose. There is a reason why I have always been a heavy ruminator. It can quickly be unhealthy if I don't control the own wanderings of my mind, but I am getting better and better at this as I get older.

I meant for this post to be about the question of how does one measure success, but look where we are now. I'll post a part two on Success later.

But just as a leway into the next post, here is what inspired me to write and ruminate about Success: A girl tonight was talking about how her "Grandma was a very successful woman" with a pretty functional family all apart from one daughter of 5 kids who hated the parents rules and decided to place herself in foster care, and later ran away from foster care and is now an excrutiatingly bitter woman. All I could think about was, now what is it that determined the mother's success? The fact that she raised 4 functional kids out of 5? The balance of family with work? The image she projects to the world? Her own ability to stay strong when life is hard? What is success and how is it measured? Right now, I am not sure I can attach the word "success" to any person. I don't particularly believe it is a valid way to assess a person or label a person. Anyway, we'll talk about this later.

2 comments:

Kyla Roma said...

This is so wild - I didn't know that rumination was something clinical until I read this post & that article. That's fascinating, because that's *totally* me too - I've become better but I used to constantly turn negative events and thoughts over and over...

Wow! Your thoughts on success and relativity are really relevant to what I'm going through right now, I'm excited to see part two =)

anna church said...

moorea, I heavily relate to your post. I am an intense ruminator too. I have always attributed this as one of my biggest problems (or strengths?). In my psychology classes I have learned that it is in fact a big part of depression -- especially with women. Truthfully, this just makes me ruminate more on the fact, ha. But, the more I have thought about it the more I realize that it is and always will be a search for the balance of what our personalities (as being INFPs) naturally cause us to be like, and the unhealthiness of ruminating so much that it just becomes a continual downward spiral of negative thoughts (I say this because it is perhaps my greatest struggle). Anyway, you are rad and I'm glad we're friends. I feel like we are kindred spirits, especially with this ruminating business.