How To Stop Ruminating OCD With CBT And Hypnosis

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How To Stop Ruminating OCD With CBT And Hypnosis

So, you have ruminating thoughts! You just can’t seem to stop certain distressing thoughts from happening over and over again. Many people will ask themselves “What’s the matter with me?”. When you don’t know how to stop ruminating OCD, it can even make you feel like you are going mad, or that maybe you’ve got mental health issues. The worry about that can add to the problem. 

I have had clients come to me over the years with ruminative thoughts and those unwanted thoughts are generally about negative experiences that happened in past events. Of course, the answer lies in learning how to live in the present moment, which can be more difficult than it sounds. I love the following quotation from the author Stephen Guise:

“Rumination is a desperate, futile attempt to change the past by thinking about it. It’s a form of denial, and acceptance is the antidote. Acceptance means that you’ll be hit with the full force of the pain – and it will hurt if it’s something serious – but once you do it, you give yourself the best chance to move beyond it. Acceptance of your humanity is equally paramount. You’re allowed to make mistakes – even horrific ones – because you’re human.”

What Is The Root Cause Of Rumination?

Simply put, rumination about past events is the inability to accept what’s happened. By playing the scene over and over again in your mind, you create a mental compulsion to keep replaying negative thoughts and events in the vain hope that you might be able to change them. Each time we engage in repetitive thinking, it is with the hope that we can come up with a better way of responding, but somewhere deep inside we know that it didn’t work out that way. 

In this way, it becomes a vicious cycle because it can create feelings of anxiety or lack of control which seem to confirm your ruminating. In the worst-case scenario, excessive rumination can cause depression, anger, or other negative feelings, which can have a really detrimental effect on your quality of life. Here are some of the underlying causes of rumination:

  • Control Issues: With some people when they perceive that things are out of their control, this can trigger a greater need for control. Rumination, in this case, can be an attempt to get more control over what’s happened.
  • Inability To Let Go: For some people, letting go is effortless. That’s either because someone showed them how to let go of something earlier in life, or they learned by observation that the right thing to do was just accept and let go. For people who ruminate, it’s as if they have never developed that skill of letting go.
  • Overthinking: People who have learned the habit of overthinking will find it easier to ruminate because that’s what they do. Once again, this is about not being able to let go.
  • Lack Of Self Belief: If you have high self-belief, then you will be less likely to ruminate. For example, if you said something to somebody and they took it badly, the person with high levels of self-belief will find it easier to shrug their shoulder and just accept what happened. A person who has a problem with repetitive thoughts probably has less self-belief and then may run that thought over and over in their mind, agonizing about whether they said the right thing or not.

Why Do OCD Thoughts Feel So Real?

When you were a kid, did you have an active imagination? During my childhood, I imagined myself as a pilot of a fighter plane during WWII. In more recent years, I have closed my eyes for a moment (maybe at lunchtime) and imagined I was James Bond or Tom Cruise’s character in the Mission Impossible movies. When I open my eyes again, I can have a smile and tell myself I enjoyed that, but I do know that it is my imagination. 

A core feature of OCD is that imagination and reality get a bit mixed up. For someone who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, when they have obsessive thoughts, they get feelings or sensations that seem to confirm that the thought is a valid one. So while a person who does not have this problem would look at someone doing such thoughts over and over again as being a bit odd, for the person doing the rumination, it seems perfectly sane and logical.

calm your ocd self hypnosis audio cover image

Self-Hypnosis Audio For Ruminating OCD

Self-hypnosis can be a great tool to help you focus on the present moment and let go of ruminating thoughts quickly.

Understanding Rumination In OCD

Probably the best way to understand rumination is to think of a 12″ vinyl record. Imagine it has a scratch on the surface of the record and it just keeps playing the same 10 seconds of the song over and over and over again. Now, of course, if it was a record, we’d just lift the needle and place it a little further on beyond the scratch and now the song would play properly again. But imagine there’s no needle and you can’t figure out how to stop the song from replaying that 10 seconds over and over again.

I can hear the clever people out there saying “Well just pull out the power cord so”, but imagine if it didn’t have a power cord. Imagine if there was absolutely nothing you could do to make it stop. I’m guessing you’d probably call that a “headwreck”. That is what someone suffering from rumination goes through. In severe cases, it can make people feel desperate and badly affect their mental well-being.

Dispelling Myths In OCD Rumination

The term OCD has seeped into modern uses of language. You’ll hear it used in sitcoms or reality TV shows rather a lot. “She’s so OCD!”, or “I can’t stop cleaning – I must be getting OCD!” are throwaway comments that you’ll hear quite often. The reality, for people who really do suffer from OCD, is quite different. It’s not a lifestyle choice that you can turn on or off at will. It is a mental health condition ranging from mild to severe. OCD is one of those mental health conditions that is very difficult to treat. The act of rumination is like a continuous loop of thought that just will not stop.

calm your ocd self hypnosis audio cover image

Self-Hypnosis Audio For Ruminating OCD

Self-hypnosis can be a great tool to help you focus on the present moment and let go of ruminating thoughts quickly.

Does OCD Get Worse With Age?

I believe that whatever you practice often, you get very good at it. In the context of OCD, this just means that the habit portion of rumination becomes more deeply embedded in your mind and becomes your default reaction to certain triggers. While there is no specific evidence to prove that OCD gets worse with age, I always recommend people get the help of a licensed therapist, and that they get help as soon as they recognize they have this issue. There are numerous effective treatments out there and I’ll discuss some of the most effective treatments below.

OCD Rumination Examples

Marie came to see me first about five years ago. She told me that she was in a great relationship with a really good guy but that she couldn’t stop thinking that he was going to leave her. This thought kept playing on her mind over and over again. She kept asking for reassurance from him and telling him that she was sure he would leave her. His patience had eventually worn thin and he had told her she had to stop doing this or else he would actually leave.

Brian told me, when he sat down on the sofa in my office, that he was definite he had cancer. He had been for every test known to man and he had had more second opinions than anyone I have ever heard of. Yet, he told me he woke up every morning convinced he had cancer and that it was hiding somewhere, lying undiscovered in his body.

In both of these cases, a mixture of hypnotherapy and CBT managed to reduce the symptoms of rumination significantly and allowed both Marie and Brian to enjoy their lives far better.

calm your ocd self hypnosis audio cover image

Self-Hypnosis Audio For Ruminating OCD

Self-hypnosis can be a great tool to help you focus on the present moment and let go of ruminating thoughts quickly.

How Do You Break The Cycle Of Rumination?

There are several steps to breaking the cycle of rumination. Remember, the end aim is that you automatically dismiss these thoughts but that will take a while until the process becomes automatic. Practice., practice, practice! However, do bear in mind that if you are hard on yourself for not getting it right at the beginning, you’ll probably never get it right. You have got to be patient and encouraging with yourself as you practice. Remind yourself that it’s ok not to be an expert at this just yet.

  1. Spot Rumination: You have to pay attention and start spotting when you are starting to ruminate. Then tell yourself (without judgment) “Hey, this is rumination. I am doing it right now!”.
  2. Give The Thought A Value: Don’t judge a thought on whether it’s good or bad. Instead, just ask yourself a couple of simple questions to decide upon the value of the thought – “By continuing to think this thought, am I going to be able to change it right now in any way?”, “Would I feel better if I could just let this go right now?”, and my favorite one “Is anyone going to die if I don’t think this thought right now?”.
  3. Embrace Lack Of Control: All types of OCD are essentially linked to a desire for control or certainty. Most mental health professionals agree that a vital part of any treatment plan is to gradually introduce the acceptance of uncertainty into the everyday thought process of the person who suffers from OCD. This all centers around getting the person to tolerate doubts and uncertainties better as part of the professional treatment. It almost seems counter-intuitive but learning to tolerate doubt and uncertainty without needing to ruminate or over-analyze leads to a sense of greater control in the future.
  4. Stop Trying So Hard: There is a saying in psychology that “What you focus on becomes bigger”. This is why getting the help of OCD specialists is vital so that you understand the mindset you are aiming for. Trying too hard to make a thought go away just means you are focussing even more on the thought, which is what you don’t want to do. Yet that’s what most people do! The best analogy I can think of is living next door to someone you hate. To have peace of mind, you have to let go of any thought or emotion about that person. They have to just not matter anymore. This is exactly what needs to happen with your self-defeating thoughts. This does take practice, but I promise you that with commitment and effort, you can achieve that.

What Is The Best Therapy For Rumination? Good Treatment Options

The main treatment options are the following:

  1. CBT (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy): CBT can be really beneficial in overcoming rumination but it does depend on the experience level of the therapist. A thing to ask is if they use exposure and response prevention as part of what they do.
  2. Hypnotherapy: This is my main therapeutic intervention (coupled with some CBT techniques and I have found that to be quite successful with rumination clients. If you want to test the waters without going to an actual therapist, I would suggest downloading my “Calm Your OCD” self-hypnosis audio and listening for 30 days (at least).
  3. Mindfulness Meditation: Mindfulness can be a wonderful practice to help you learn how to focus on now so that rumination doesn’t happen. It does take practice and commitment but it does help as part of how to stop ruminating ocd.
calm your ocd self hypnosis audio cover image

Self-Hypnosis Audio For Ruminating OCD

Self-hypnosis can be a great tool to help you focus on the present moment and let go of ruminating thoughts quickly.

The Role Of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For Obsessive Rumination

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is one of the most vital tools available to you to change your thought patterns and learn how to stop ruminating ocd. Using CBT, you will learn how to

  1. Weigh up the pros and cons of ruminating.
  2. Decide upon the best solution available to you.
  3. Fully accept whatever it is you’ve been ruminating about as it is, not as you wish it to be.
  4. Change your thinking to something more beneficial.

Is Mindfulness Meditation Good For Compulsive Rumination?

Because mindfulness is all about paying attention to the present moment, it can be very helpful to incorporate into your daily life as it can help you change your focus away from the particular thought you have been ruminating about. The key to mindfulness meditation is to do it without analyzing or judging. It’s about just being in the moment. Many people who ruminate can find this difficult to do at the start but if you persevere with your mindfulness practices, they can be a helpful way of reducing rumination ocd.

calm your ocd self hypnosis audio cover image

Self-Hypnosis Audio For Ruminating OCD

Self-hypnosis can be a great tool to help you focus on the present moment and let go of ruminating thoughts quickly.

Hypnosis For OCD Symptoms

OCD symptoms and rumination always tend to be worse when you are in a state of chronic stress. I have recorded a specific self-hypnosis audio called “Calm Your OCD” This is designed to get you started with knowing how to stop ruminating ocd. Listening to a self-hypnosis audio designed for OCD clients will help you to:

  • Relax deeply and let go of every stress that’s on your mind
  • Get things in perspective
  • break the rumination loop and help you focus on other things.
Picture of Author: Paul Hunter

Author: Paul Hunter

Although thousands of people read his blog every month, Paul's path to success was not an easy one. Click here to read his amazing story "From Unwanted Baby And Adopted To A Respected Self Help Blogger". If you want to send Paul a quick message, then visit his contact page here

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Picture of Paul Hunter

Paul Hunter

Although thousands of people read his blog every month, Paul's path to success was not an easy one. Click here to read his amazing story "From Unwanted Baby And Adopted To A Respected Self Help Blogger". If you want to send Paul a quick message, then visit his contact page here

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