It is importrant that we’re careful about what we ruminate on.
In the brain neurons that fire together wire together.
Neuropsychology tells us that it takes about three weeks to form and strengthen a new neural pathway. After that it becomes easier and easier to go down that channel, so to speak. And the more we do so the stronger the pathway becomes. Indeed, it may become diffcult to avoid.
So constant thinking about, worrying on, a topic will entrench it and make it harder and harder to avoid. Thoughts are things, as Napoelon Hill said.
How to prevent this happening? Well I have an illustration from my childhood that may throw some light.
At about age 10
I suddenly realised one day that eggs contain chick foetuses. (I say ‘realised’ because (a) in fact the eggs we eat have not been fertilised and so can’t produce chicks, but (b) it felt like a sudden insight.)
Horrified by the idea I began to think through the implications…. And then – here’s the relevant bit -caught myself in the act, as it were. In an early instance of metathinking I realised that if I continued this way that I would make it impossible for myself to eat eggs, to stand having eggs eaten around me…and so on. In short I saw that I was on the road to becoming a pro-lifer of the poultry world.
Vegans, please relax. Whether or not egg-eating is a bad thing is not the point here. The point is how to prevent oneself constructing a train of thought which in turn may construct us.
My realisation was enough and early enough to begin combatting the rumination. I stopped myself thinking about X (eating eggs is murder) and thought about Y (something else that caught my 10-year old mind).
No egg problems since.