Re rumination

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.


2 thoughts on “Re rumination

  1. I guess the big question raised by this insight is which things we should be thinking about.

    My vote would be a sustainable planet that supports all its people with a convivial lifestyle.

  2. Evan – that could certainly be good.
    Let me play devil’s advocate, though. These days it’s quite normal for young kids to be taught about global warming, etc. Sometime a sensitive kid will take it too seriously – by which I mean ruminate on it, get depressed, cynical. I.e. be disempowered personally. I guess a colleague of mine is right: anything (even noble sentiments) can be misused.
    Addressing your question, then the best I can suggest is that there might not be any particular thought(s) that can’t produce rumination. The thing to watch out for that kind of thinking – irrespective of the content of the thought – and stop it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s