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Stop Ruminating

What if he didn’t take the counteroffer? What if she had talked to me instead of the other recruiter? (Or worse yet) What if I hadn’t said that? What if I had responded differently? Is she mad at me? Are they going to fire me as a vendor?

Rumination is when you get a negative thought stuck in your head on a loop. For some people it’s about things which have already happened, for others it shows up as worry about something which might happen. In one case you’re focused on the past (which you can’t change) and in the other you’re focused on the future (which hasn’t happened.) All your energy is on you. It’s focused internally.

There are two inherent problems with rumination. One is the loop. Because it doesn’t stop, it can feel overwhelming. The other is the lack of focus on the current moment. We can’t change the past and the future hasn’t happened, but this is where we’re sitting when we ruminate.

The secret to overcoming this downward spiral depends on you as a person and your natural inclinations. We’re going to share a few techniques which can help in these situations. First, get out of your own head. If you can change your focus to be external, rather than internal, the spiral stops. Here are four techniques we find helpful:

  • Systematically Review Your Surroundings

Literally. I’m sitting my office. My feet are planted on the ground. The chair is black and orange. My glasses are on the desk. The light is on in the hallway. I see the glass of water.

If you can pause in the moment and turn your focus outward, it will instantly solve the problem. This can be done by trying to help someone, or by systematically observing your surroundings, which brings you back to external and present.

There’s no judgement, no internal dialogue. The cataloging takes over the rumination.

  • Change Your State, Change Your Surroundings

If you can change your physical state, it will be difficult to continue the rumination. Do jumping jacks. Go for a walk. Take a shower. Put on poppy music that you can’t help but to dance. Proactively take the steps to change your physicality, and the ruminating will stop.

  • Test the Validity
  • Am I certain this is 100% true? (If not, separate the facts from the story you’re telling yourself.)
  • What steps can I take to influence the future outcome or prevent a similar occurrence?
  • Have I done those things?

By asking ourselves these questions, we can often modify our thinking and return to more productive activities.

  • Validate Your Journey

In the thick of it, we often forget to acknowledge our feelings. It’s okay to feel nervous or stressed. It’s a part of the job. By recognizing and naming these emotions, you’re not giving them control over you. Instead, you’re saying, “I see you, I feel you, and it’s okay.” This simple act of self-validation can significantly reduce the intensity of these emotions, helping you move forward with clarity and confidence.

By mastering these strategies, you’re not just avoiding the pitfalls of rumination; you’re setting yourself up for success. Remember, staying present isn’t just about coping with stress; it’s about empowering yourself to be the best recruiter you can be. So, take a deep breath, and let’s get back in the game with a clearer, more focused mind.

Stop working in a silo! Get the support you need from expert coaches and a group of high performing peers. Learn more below.

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Tricia Tamkin, headhunter, advisor, coach, and gladiator. Tricia has spoken at over 50 recruiting events, been quoted in multiple national publications, and her name is often dropped in groups as the solution to any recruiters’ challenges. She brings over 30 years of deep recruiting experience and offers counsel in a way which is perspective changing and entertaining.

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