Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Benefits of Rumination

The following was intended as a comment on a post at /r/exmormon. The OP was about how Mormonism's emphasis on "Go and Do!" (as opposed to a more critical "Stop and think...") keeps Mormons enthralled. I decided not to comment, but saved the text:

Oh man, I. Love. This. Do not apologize for this ramble. This is an incredibly good ramble.

Let's keep going with it: How many times have you heard members disparage themselves for being a person who thinks too much? Or how many of you here were a Mormon who "thought too much," or had lots of roiling ruminatey type thoughts? Maybe this is one massive reason why! Because when you try to suppress something natural, it always grows—actually it fights back, with vengeance. 

If you’re a thinker (let’s be generous and say most humans are, to a certain extent) and you get told over and over and over and over that you have to “Go and do!!” and not ruminate on God’s commandments, and any time you did start to ruminate you’d smack your forehead in self-loathing, then 1. Not only do you never learn how to have positive, critical thoughts that lead to conclusions (and CHANGES), but 2. That ruminating tendency goes into overdrive, with the same principle on which so many men (and women) get shamed into thinking they are sex addicts.

Yeah, it’s a common meme here that Mormons are kept so busy they don’t have time to really think about the truth claims of the church. Partially true, I’m sure, but I bet plenty of Mormons are doing tons of thinking about the church and it’s truth claims, it’s just that the messaging they’re getting about thinking is so incredibly dysfunctional and manipulative it puts them constantly in a quandary. (God’s thoughts are higher than man’s thoughts, and similar bull shit.)

I’ve recently become aware of how negative I am toward myself when it comes to thinking about my thinking. My meta-thinking is very negative. When I really start to mull something over, I leap immediately to the meta thought that this mulling and ruminating is bad for me, that I should have already had a conclusion, or that the very fact that I am ruminating at all means that I am a negative, depressive, person. Maybe that’s a result of “I will go, I will doooo!” being pounded into my 5 year old brain.

Thanks to recent therapy, though (therapy is so essential for fucked-up ex-cult members), I’ve learned to start putting a positive spin on my thinking. My thinking, even my ruminating, is indicative of a very positive trait!, says my therapist. It shows that I am critical, interested improving the conditions around me (a basic evolutionary impulse, I imagine) and concerned with excellence. Thinking is good. Fuck, over-thinking is good. We can use our thinking and our meta-thinking to help ourselves out of negative feedback loops, discover the things we really value, prioritize those values, and aim our lives in a direction that aligns with our values. We can decide if Mormon God or Jewish God or Catholic God, or NO GOD  aligns with our values, and hang onto or throw out any or all gods.  We can think; and then, after a while, after the thinking creates new neurons and changes the actual physical structure of our brains, then we have become a different person, who chooses different things than when we first began thinking.

So yeah. I guess Mormonism in general, and that little ass-wipe Nephi in particular, fundamentally impede natural human brain development.

No comments:

Post a Comment