There is a wide array of distinct obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) compulsions that highly trained therapists can easily determine. But for everyday people, it would be very difficult to determine which one is which. Well, in general, you can settle on calling common mental compulsions as rumination. According to OCD experts who have been dealing with sufferers for long periods of time, OCD rumination is by far the most common compulsion there is. They say that people with purely O (obsessive) behavior, where compulsions are said to be mental and covert, instead of overt and visible, ruminate. Basically, it is the biggest compulsion that sufferers would experience, though people with more overt compulsions would engage in this behavior as well.
What Is Rumination
By definition, rumination is a mental act where an individual would think deeply and carefully about a subject. For example, a mathematician who intends to figure out a complicated formula might sit at his desk, stare blankly and ruminate about it.
When it comes to the field of psychology, this act is “the compulsively focused attention on the symptoms of one’s distress, and on its possible causes and consequences, as opposed to its solutions,” according to Wikipedia. While worrying is focused on what may happen in the future, rumination focuses on the past.
Recognizing and Resisting Rumination
Before someone who is suffering from OCD rumination can start to deal with the condition, he needs to be able to identify that he is actually ruminating—a process that can be difficult at first, as obsession and rumination can both take place in the mind, making him confused between the two and even believe that the two are the same that he has no control over.
If you are going over something again and again in your head, all the mental work you are doing will not get you anywhere, which means that you are most likely ruminating. You are in the same situation when you are asking the same question over and over in your head or are trying to look at a certain situation from every possible angle and then doing it all over again. As you can see, compulsions are a way to react to intrusive thoughts or obsessions, and when you react to these thoughts, you are giving credence to or even strengthening them. Thus, you would be in effect ensuring that these thoughts would come back, causing you more distress.
The solution is to resist compulsions to ruminate. However, take note that the process is not easy, as it is not a physical action that you can see, but instead a ritual that you would go through that can seem automatic. Even experienced sufferers would still find themselves in the state of rumination, which can last for hours before they realize it.
When learning how not to ruminate, you should not strive for perfection, but instead a steady progress. Like other compulsive behaviors, resisting ruminating would cause your anxiety levels to temporarily rise. Take note that when you get so used to such an act, suddenly stopping it can cause anxiety, but this will pass as well. This should become an innate part of your OCD coping mechanism, which takes a lot of practice, hard work and determination.