The email of doom….ruminating thoughts and what you can do about them

“This is awful, truly terrible.”

That was it. The whole e-mail was one line long.

As I sat at my desk, my stomach hit the floor and then churned around until it settled as a hard knot.

I spent three hours going back and forth over the piece of work and correspondence. Trying desperately to figure out where it had all gone so wrong.

I reasoned that it was similar to another project that had been met with enthusiasm.

I rationalised that there had been no specifications or expectations set.

But my brain was going around in circles. Telling me over and over again. This was serious.

“You went ahead without prior approval.”
“What a massive error.”
“You’re not going to get your contract extended. No reference = unemployable.”

I knew eventually I would need to face my manager. I practised what I would say over and over again in my head.

With one hour to go before I needed to leave. It was now or never. I stood up, adrenaline rushing through my body, legs like jelly. I walked towards the closed door.


“Come in.”
Flustered my face red with shame, “I’ve come to talk to you about the project.”
“Oh yes. I don’t know what they did with that. Can you just tweak this and add that?”
“Erm yes, of course.”

I got out of there as fast as possible, slightly perplexed.

By tomorrow, it would be fully amended, accepted and never mentioned ever again.

Cycle of Creation

Rumination is the mental process of thinking over and over about something, which happened either in the past or could happen in the future, and attaching a negative emotion to it.

Ruminations about the future are associated with, “what if this happens?” or “what if that happens?”

Ruminations about the past replay, over and over and usually end with, “if only I had…” or “I should have done…”

In this case I was well and truly ruminating upon the future and that what if’s. Driving them all the way to worst case scenario thinking.

Thoughts enter a cycle in our brains. There’s a moment. We create a meaning from that moment which affects the mood we are in and the next action we will take. Bringing awareness to this cycle is crucial.

Can you catch yourself in rumination?

Truth vs Story

The first step to breaking this iterative cycle is to apply truth vs story. What is the absolute truth? What is the story I am attaching to the truth. Start to separate them out. It may help you to write them down along with any negative thoughts you have about yourself.

There are many inputs to this cycle and multiple ways to break it….

Because a moment becomes a minute. A minute becomes a character trait. And a character trait becomes a habit of a lifetime.

How can you change your cycle?

Speak soon,


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PPS Next week Superwoman will be flying in for a visit!