Ruminations are a stream of thoughts or a so-called behavioral chain, where thoughts shift between discomforting thoughts and comforting thoughts.

  • The comforting thoughts are cognitive safety-behaviors that are used to thwart, disprove, create clarity and decrease the discomfort that discomforting thoughts trigger.
  • The discomforting thoughts automatically become frightening as the comforting thoughts are used to escape the discomfort, unpleasantness, insecurity, and anger that the discomforting thoughts create. This happens through conditioning.
  • A person who ruminates gets an increasing number of discomforting thoughts as the comforting thoughts reinforce the behavior to think discomforting thoughts, and at the same time, they function as triggering stimuli for the next discomforting thoughts in a so called behavior chain.
  • The discomforting thoughts can become increasingly unrealistic through the generalization that the comforting thoughts (safety-behaviors) create, and since we in our thinking connect related information to our momentary thinking.
  • The dulling of our minds as a result of anxiety (the sympathetic nervous reaction) makes us uncritical and allows us to think and “approve” illogical and completely unrealistic discomforting thoughts.

This is an exerpt from the book Quit Ruminating and Brooding by Olle Wadström.