Although I thought I spotted a cow reference there, something to do with grass and chewing, I was wrong. ‘Rumination’ is thinking about stuff and ‘co-rumination’, fairly sensibly, is talking with someone about stuff…that is concerns, worries, problems. And it seems, according to Erika Waller from the University of Missouri, that some girls (the study looked at ages 8 to 14), can co-ruminate to the point of harm to themselves. While it seems that it is useful for both boys and girls to talk about the things that worry them, if they do it too much, and girls seem to do so more than boys, it can lead to increased anxiety and even depression. Erika has been working with Amanda J.Rose on this. You will find her via google. Amanda has written about this so you can check it out. My source, as is often the case, is ABC Radio National Australia, on ‘Life Matters’ on 25th July 2007. And it seems that if this co-rumination, this talking about problems, happens too often, and is too lengthy and focused on the problem rather than solutions, it can be unhealthy. The talking can take people away from doing something active which might make a difference, it can take them away from doing something uplifting or even distracting which might help them feel better. And all this makes sense to me…and it makes sense to me in terms of what I have been reading lately about taking action in life…which is why I have added the bit below.
To do or not to do?
Ah…that’s the question…I think…maybe we should discuss it…
And while I love nothing more than conversation, thinking about and talking about stuff, and exploring ideas, trying to work out what might work out…as much as I love all this, there are times when a decision is required, where action is good. The work I do leads me constantly into conversations, moments, where individuals, or couples or groups, or agencies or whole communities are trying to work out what to do next in life. So with this in mind I note that Daniel Gilbert (Page 178) in ‘Stumbling on Happiness’ says that: ‘Regret is an emotion we feel when we blame ourselves for unfortunate outcomes that might have been prevented had we only behaved differently in the past, and because that emotion is decidedly unpleasant, our behaviour in the present is often designed to preclude it.’
This seems tied into the idea of personal power, or being in charge of yourself, or in control of your life, having ‘agency’ as some people describe it. My first post referred to an interview with Len Syme where he discusses the importance of being in charge of our lives and the importance of this for all aspects of health. So Gilbert (P 179) goes on to say that: ‘…most people think they will regret foolish actions more than foolish inactions. But most studies also show that nine out of ten people are wrong.’
In my work over the years I have found that people, individuals and communties, pay a price for indecision. It seems to work out that not only do I have a problem but now I have the problem of not doing anything about the problem! And if regret is as unpleasant as Daniel Gilbert suggests, and I suspect he is right, one way to avoid it is to make decsions and see where they lead. Having said this please don’t get in touch if you marry that person and it doesn’t work out, or the job you decide to take really is horrible, or the trip you selected really sucks. Have fun.