Last week, Donna Zajonc’s “Leadership Matters” e-zine was an excellent one on the topic of ruminating.  (I am a bit biased here, since Donna is my wife and business partner!)

As one of her readers said in an email, “ruminating is for cows” – and he was right, as one definition of the word is to “regurgitate… and chew it again.”  As Donna writes, “many people ruminate on their mistakes, going over and over the details, again and again, looking for any clue to what happened. Most of us want to ‘fix’ what we did wrong so we lay awake worrying about the minutiae.”  She goes on to explain some of the neurochemistry involved and we embed patterns of incessantly reliving and reviewing a situation.

Further, she points out, “If taken to an extreme, ruminating can actually cause neurosis and preoccupation with things that might go wrong. In other words, we look for what might go wrong, rather than what might go well. If this pattern begins, our self-perception becomes entrenched in a negative view of the world as we anticipate all that might go wrong.”

Her newsletter is a great reminder that the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT), at its roles of Victim, Persecutor, and Rescuer can be intrapersonal (within ourselves) in nature.  We can feel victimized by our own mistakes and take the internal position of Persecutor, as we “beat ourselves up” for a mistake we made.

From a Creator Orientation, when mistakes happen (and they will!), we can step back, learn from them and actually take them as a gift of learning (which Donna goes on to write about).  Instead of ruminating, we see the mistake as a Challenger, calling forth learning and growth.