How Rumination Impedes Healing From Bullying

Discover the consequences of rumination


When a bullying incident occurs, it is not uncommon to think about what happened. In fact, thinking things through is a healthy way to process what occurred. But when you cannot stop thinking about what took place, at the expense of everything else, this becomes rumination. And rumination delays recovery. It keeps you stuck in a thinking mode and keeps you from moving toward healing.

The thing about rumination, though, is that it can be addicting.

You keep coming back to it. Meanwhile, it can steal hours of your time before you even realize that you are obsessing about what happened. And the consequences of rumination can be costly to the healing process. Here are some ways in which rumination can slow the healing process.

Increases Your Stress Level

Being bullied is stressful enough. But reliving the incidents over and over only compounds the stress you are already feeling. In fact, some studies show that rumination can raise the level of stress hormones in your body. What's more, thinking excessively about a bullying incident causes you to relive what you experienced. As a result, every time you think about what happened, you are experiencing the stress of bullying all over again.

Encourages Victim Thinking

When you have been bullied, this is a traumatic experience. Someone with perceived power has targeted you and the victimization can make you feel small and insignificant.

As a result, continuing to relive that experience over and over by ruminating on it, keeps you stuck in victim mode. You cannot see yourself as an overcomer if the only thing you think about is when you were victimized. What’s more, rumination can have a negative impact on your mood and even lead to depression.

Keeps You Stuck

Many people believe that thinking about a bullying issue over and over, will help them work through the problem and find a solution. But research has shown that thinking excessively about problems, keeps you stuck in the same place. It also can cause you to disengage from the steps needed for healing and recovery.

Destroys Your Self-esteem.

While it is true that bullying can impact a person’s self-esteem, it is equally true that ruminating about it can cause you to think poorly of yourself too. When you think about the negative things said and done to you on a continuous loop, those messages start to become reality to you. After all, you are repeating them over and over to yourself every time you engage in rumination. This, in turn, leads to poor self-image and a lack of self-confidence. No longer does the bully have to engage in name-calling, because you are doing it on your own.

May Cause Physical Problems

Because rumination impacts stress levels in the body, it may also have a negative impact on the body.

For instance, researchers have found a link between rumination and hypertension. Additionally, if you are eating at the same time that you are ruminating about the bullying, it also can lead to overeating or binge eating. And if rumination is interfering with your sleep, it may lead to insomnia or even sleep disorders. Rumination also can increase anxiety levels and lead to stomach issues including ulcers, diarrhea, and vomiting.

With all these negative consequences in mind, it is important to take steps to put an end to rumination in your life. And if the tendency toward rumination persists, it could be a sign of a bigger problem. Be sure to talk with your doctor or a therapist for help in letting go of what you have experienced.

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