Is it okay to have conflicting thoughts?

In the thicket of thoughts - When we lose ourselves in brooding

That we humans think so much is a good thing in itself. It can help us to master upcoming challenges or to deal with unpleasant experiences from the past.

Even behind brooding, there is often a natural human need - the need for security and the desire to be in control or to regain control. When the information that reaches our brain shows a coherent picture, we are usually satisfied and relaxed.

But if an event hits us unprepared, we cannot classify it or it contradicts our goals and wishes, this often triggers unpleasant feelings such as insecurity or helplessness in us. We get restless and our brains get to work. It wants to keep order and tries to sort the contradicting or irritating information in order to resolve this inner conflict.

However, we differ in the way we sort information. While some create order in their heads rather roughly and without great effort, others tend to take every situation apart down to the smallest detail and brood over it.


Are you still thinking or are you already brooding?

When we brood, we believe that we are dealing intensively with a problem and doing something good with it. Instead, we get tangled up in our thoughts and can't find a solution. In the end, not only do we still have a problem, but we are also sad and frustrated or feel helpless. To be able to change something, we first have to know what it looks like. It is the same with our thoughts.

Here are some typical traits you can use to tell if you're brooding:

  • How so? Why? Why?
    When pondering, we are more concerned with explanations than with solutions, for example, "Why does this always happen to me?" instead of "How can I change something?"
  • The look in the rearview mirror
    Instead of thinking of solutions for the future, the focus is on the past and old negative memories come back to life.
  • From stick to stick
    Instead of sticking to one topic and calmly looking for a solution, we find more and more problems and topics where things are going badly for us at the moment or where things have gone bad in the past.
  • Cracked plate
    We always ask ourselves the same questions without finding an answer. So we go around in circles instead of thinking about new ways.


How is brooding related to depression?

When pondering, negative thoughts and ideas are recurring, like in "thought circles". This is particularly common in a depressive episode because it also affects our thinking, concentration and decision-making ability. So it is even more difficult than usual for us to see clearly and to find solutions.

Brooding thoughts often relate to oneself, for example in the form of self-depreciation, self-doubt or self-reproach. We also often deal with negative experiences from the past and current problems and burdens.
Through this constant preoccupation with the negative, brooding leads to:

  • uncomfortable feelings and bad mood
  • a more negative attitude towards the past, present and future
  • less confidence
  • less motivation to try helpful solutions

Through these effects, brooding can encourage a depressive episode or perpetuate and exacerbate symptoms such as guilt, insomnia, and anxiety.


Arrive against the jungle of thought

Basically, brooding is nothing more than a habit. If we recognize thoughtful thoughts and catch ourselves doing them, we can do something about it. Because of this, pondering often occurs in similar situations. Recognizing these situations can be helpful in getting to the bottom of your brooding and consciously breaking this habit.

One way to build new habits is to go against brooding. For example, if you get angry every time you miss the bus and ponder what led to it, try instead to consciously think ahead and what you can do to get the bus down.

Even if it sounds paradoxical: To reduce brooding, it can also be helpful to set up a regular "brooding appointment", during which you can brood freely or write down your brooding thoughts in a diary. If brooding occurs outside of this appointment, you consciously say: "Not now, at 5 pm I can brood on the subject in peace!"

Mindfulness exercises can also help you practice a more relaxed attitude towards your thoughts. By observing them from a distance, you can manage to be less obsessed with them.


How Moodpath helps you against brooding

With the right tool, you can free yourself from your thoughts - and with a little practice you can even make sure that you don't get tangled up in them in the first place.

In Moodpath, questions about pondering encourage you to even recognize the pondering. You can record when you brood in your notes and identify patterns. In the course “How to stop brooding” you will get to know yourself and your way of brooding better. You can find out what heralds the brooding and what you can do to stop it. Once that is done, you will learn helpful strategies to avoid falling back into old habits.

In addition, you will find numerous mindfulness exercises that can also help you to counter the brooding a little more distantly. The Flow of thoughts meditation you can try it out here: