Constant Worrying

July 26 2023 | by

Dear Mr. Pfister, I struggle with rumination. I constantly think, over and over, about bad events in my life or certain things that are bothering me presently. I can’t seem to break this habit I’ve built over the course of my life. My general internal thought during these times is, “If I can figure this thing out, I can stop thinking about it.” However, many of these things don’t have answers, at least not good ones, and therefore I find myself thinking about it over and over again. How do I break out of this pattern? How do I change the way I think about things and stop dwelling on them?


Rumination is a common problem that has the potential to cause a lot of difficulty in our lives. Rumination drives us to think about a worry or problem over and over again. It is a time-consuming reaction to stress and anxiety.

Rumination is a difficult habit to break because the process itself is a reaction to stress or worry that has the positive intent of decreasing the stress I am experiencing. I think about the problem because I desire to find a resolution to it, which in turn decreases my worry. Finding a solution, or decreasing my worry during rumination, reinforces my behavior and, over the course of time, a habit develops. I then find myself, as you have, ruminating constantly about past, present or future events or concerns.

The good news is that – just as any other habit can be changed or broken – rumination can be surmounted. This is done through the process of what is referred to as recollection, and has been utilized by many of the saints throughout the Church’s history.

Father John Hardon, SJ, in Catholic Dictionary, defines recollection as the “Concentration of the soul on the presence of God. It calls for considerable mental discipline to avoid dissipation of mind, but is required of all who aspire after Christian perfection.”

As we can see, recollection consists primarily in turning our thoughts to Almighty God and recognizing His presence in His creation, and is a powerful technique in overcoming habitual rumination. Recollection pulls my thoughts away from the worry at hand and reorients them to their proper end: God Himself.

In shifting our focus to God, we recognize two very important truths. First, we recognize that He is present in all His creation by nature and is therefore all around us at all times. Secondly, we recognize that, when we are in the state of grace, the Blessed Trinity dwells in our very souls by grace. He is omnipresent. From these two simple truths we can recognize His constant, loving presence in our lives, making recollecting our thoughts both directed and practical.

When you find yourself worry about a past or present concern, challenge yourself to instead shift your thoughts to God. Recognize His presence here and now and/or His presence then and there. He is always with us, preserving and providing for us. He speaks to us through our daily worries and concerns. He speaks of His desire for our love and our trust in His providence. He is the source of all recompense and the fulfillment of all desire. When we find ourselves ruminating, let us resolve to focus instead on His loving care for each and every aspect of our lives.

The Beatific Vision, for which we all by our very nature yearn, is the immediate knowledge and vision of Almighty God Himself. It is a perfected and eternal recollection. Let us practice for this great calling in this life through daily recollection of Him.

Updated on July 26 2023