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Do you tend to spend too much time in your head?

Regarding thoughts such as worry, and stress, William James, an American philosopher, and psychologist, said:

"The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another."

When we view our mind as a tool that should work for us, not against us, we can decide what to think which can contribute to well being.

Learning this skill (which took a lot of practice) has helped me cope with very trying circumstances, disappointments and hardships. That's not to say I don't get stuck in my head from time to time, but I do it far less than I used to. They're useless thoughts -- energy vampires.

What about you --- do you think you ruminate too much? If you used to but don't anymore, how did you change your pattern of thinking?

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VictoriaNotes 9 Mar 28

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My brain never stops so I chose other. Have gotten better at thought management, distract my self sometimes on accident, eventually, I return to all thoughts.


I love it inside my head, people there understand me.


I have a tendency to live very much inside my head — a consequence of being extremely introspective, I suspect — but I've found that there's a really easy way around that: if I do something to help others, whether informally lending a hand or actively volunteering, it forces me outside of my own thoughts and places the focus on the external, helping to quiet stress, anxiety, self-defeating thoughts, discouragement, etc.


paralysis by analysis


Yoga and the focus on now.

SamL Level 7 Mar 28, 2018

I either over think it, or worse, arrive at an answer, but refuse to take any action that might help the situation.

I try to be aware of my thoughts, to not let them control me. Not always successful.


I've been known to do so, but these days I think I have it mostly under control. The quote is excellent, by the way!


Incredibly easy to overthink things. Completely agree - staying in one gear too long wears out the transmission. Manual shifting is necessary for me too.

jeffy Level 7 Mar 28, 2018

Great analogy, Jeff.


I've learned how not to ruminate. But that learning has not been easy and has taken many years, much therapy, some medication, and the love of a good dog.

It can difficult to not do. Music, chess, reading, or watching funny TV shows can help distract me.


Not only yes, but I think that picture there is an actual picture of my brain. ?. I don’t necessarily hold onto the event of my past to maintain a handicapped status, but the fact is that since having had a stroke 7 years back, getting caught in mental loops has been struggle for me. And for all the part time therapists who,will say "well don’t think about it", it’s kind of like being told not to think about purple monkeys, suddenly all you can think of is purple monkeys. I’m much better now, but the monkeys are invisible at times and they hide my things. ?. Kidding, don’t send the social workers(the monkeys don’t like em).

Tony, I'm sorry to hear about your stroke. I can relate to having experienced getting caught in those mental loops.

Those damn purple monkeys. 😀


Used to-without stress from being sick all the time and being retired I am so relaxed and mellow. Almost a new me.


I don't know how much is too much. I mean there have been times that I am reminded of some grand faux pas and it will bug me. But having survived it, I assume I learned something from it. But I wouldn't consider myself obsessive.


I'm one of those people who can't rest my mind. It doesn't show on the outside, I'm not twitchy or hyperactive but my mind floats from lobe to lobe thinking. I'll be talking about one thing and then I lobe out to something completely unrelated.

Try using your favorite music as it works for me.

I could have written your post exactly. People say "You are always so calm" they have no idea the storm that can exist in this head.


I'm a "ruminator" big time, sometimes I have to talk to myself and even then, it's tough. I can be reading a book and thinking of something at the same time. Like everyone, I've had a lot of "bad" stuff in my life that goes way back. I regret much of my life and have made many mistakes. There's a saying that you reap what you sow. I never could "sew"....!!! I've made my peace by accepting responsibility but living with it is still difficult, although I have improved. I think we are our past, can't be erased. I'm certainly not alone........I think that's where the ruminating comes from.....I continue to work at it......🙂


I'm the problem solver in the house. I try not to be confronted with problematic issues in the evening, no discussions on how to solve a challenge. It can keep me awake. But since I control that better and take care that my body is able to cool down during the night (getting rid of the heat that sleeping seems to accumulate), I sleep like …… well, like someone that sleeps well 🙂. Being retired helps.

Gert Level 7 Mar 28, 2018

This site doesn't help much and night times and early mornings are the worst. I have found by mediatating and concentrating on my breath helps me get to sleep. Making a conscious effort to avoid runinations at 2 am also help. Warming weather will send me outside with projects.

Actually, when I had a partner things were much better. I had someone else to discuss my/our issues with. Teasing and bantering one another helped to reduce any anxiety.

"This site doesn't help much"

How does this site cause you to spend too much time in your head? This post is about negative ruminations.

@VictoriaNotes I like to know that too. Although I can imagine that some items on this site can trigger thinking about a lot of things. Even positive ruminations can keep you awake and is just as annoying. At least to me 🙂.

@Gert Yes, I agree. Sometimes things I read about on here can trigger negative ruminations, but of course that isn't the fault of the site. There are many really smart people on here, who have done a lot with their lives, and at times it's hard not to compare myself with them. I still love this website though.

@MST3K Don't compare yourself with others, only if you want to learn something from them that you don't know yet. Something that you can obtain. If you can't, don't. In that case it's a waste of energy. You are just as unique as I am or as someone with an extremely high IQ. We all have to deal with the same amount of shit during our lives and also the same amount of luck and happiness. When you start to compare you always see the things that you don't have and forget what you really have. Just accept who you are and learn to live with what you have and what you don't or can't have.

@VictoriaNotes There are lots of negative things that come from the site (and I add plenty myself). I also think of things I should have said but did not. Once the cycle starts it is hard to stop. But I am determined to get a handle on it and have, so far, succeeded.

@JackPedigo I'm sorry you feel that way and surprised you do.

@Gert I do need to avoid making those sorts of comparisons, or if I do, not to judge myself by them. It is probably good to compare if you are looking for an example of something you might want to achieve, or learn. One doesn't have to be extremely intelligent, or highly accomplished, or very talented, to feel good about himself. It isn't important to measure up to others. All a person needs to do is to try to be a decent person, and to be the best he or she can, within their own capabilities or limitations.

@VictoriaNotes Deep discussions always have some areas of disagreement (negativity). From some it can be actual hostility. It is something we all have to deal with. Some areas of discussion between myself and others take a while to come to terms, either seeing things from another's point of view or simply agreeing to disagree. As a claimed introvert I am sure you also think of things that would have been better said had you thought of them at the time. Please don't be sorry, I am not. Negative things can help a person to grow. But moderation is often needed.

@JackPedigo "Negative things can help a person to grow."

Absolutely which is why I think it's more positive than negative. Experiencing disagreement (even from someone being hostile) played a role in me standing up for myself and finding my voice, rather than just walking on eggshells, and being compliant, which was the environment/culture I was raised in (Christianity).


Yes, I always have. When I was young, it was the only refuge I had, and I also spent a lot of time trying to hold onto sanity; this necessitated a lot of head time, too.

marga Level 7 Mar 28, 2018

Yes, I do, but I am working on it. I took this week off to try to relax, because I am dangerously close to burning out. I have the tendency to want to fix everyone and everything, especially through my work.


I like what Einstein said: "I think when I have nothing better to do." I wonder does rumination have something in common with Parkinson's Law which states that work expands to fill the time available for it's completion, that is, does rumination expand to fill the mental space available for it's contemplation?


I have depression, PTSD and anxiety disorder. Add to that the fact that I read a lot, and I'm a self-published writer. So, the answer is yes.


No like winnie the pooh I am a bear of very little brain. Much more impulsive and immediate than is good for me and other people get to have a good laugh at my expense.


I discovered during a period of intense pain that I could be thinking of one thing and having a parallel thought wander in. At first I was thinking schizophrenia or something but in talking with my group of Parents dealing with loss, I found it was common in periods of profound grief.


I have a bad tendency to ruminate, and I need very much to cut down on this. Thank you for the quote by William James, and the concept of using thoughts as a tool for our benefit.


I daydream instead, beats the hell out of both rumination and my current reality (working on the reality but these things take time.)

Kimba Level 7 Mar 29, 2018

That's excellent.


I spend too much time on social wevsites....



Thinking is my coping mechanism, if I can't solve an issue in my head or disturbed to the point I can't think right I create scenarios in my head in a happy place fashion to distract me.

I also often enjoy thinking, as long as I'm not ruminating. Thinking creatively or philosophically can be very rewarding.

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