Worry about past Conversations- How to Stop Their Replay!

Written by: Ankita Kathad – MA (Clinical Psychology)
Last updated date : March 13, 2023

Do you feel that some past conversations keep replying in your head? Like a cassette? Don’t worry. you are not alone. This is known as Rumination. Many people do this. Some do it when they’re alone and some do it a lot of time. In this article, we explore the worry about past conversations and the act of replaying past conversations in your head.

“Learnt a lot from this course” Sally

51 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use
$9.00 $12.00

25% discount


Chapter 1:

What Is Rumination?

Rumination of thoughts means repeating one conversation or thought again and again. People do it when they feel anxious. Playing the conversation again helps them to analyze their mistakes. They think this will help them to prevent it in the future.

When something goes wrong, people replay the conversations to see where they had gone wrong. The more they replay the conversations, the more they think they can interpret what went wrong. Sometimes people actively rethink their conversations. Other times it is involuntary. The problem arises when people spend hours and sometimes days, rethinking what they had said. Some people find it hard to let go. They cannot forget what they had said. Rumination becomes a problem when it becomes a cause of distress.

Chapter 2:

Why Do I Worry about past Conversations?

As discussed earlier, replaying past conversations is not always voluntary. There can be many reasons why people ruminate. Here are some of them:
  1. When something traumatic happens to a person. They feel that replaying the past event will help them understand what went wrong. They believe that rumination can solve a problem.
  2. When a person values a relationship so much that they worry about the past conversation. They do this when they feel they have hurt the other person or vice versa.
  3. When a person is a perfectionist. They ruminate because they want to avoid a past mistake in the future at all costs. For example, if they made a mistake in class a presentation, they will ruminate. They keep worrying about past events so to avoid them in the future.
  4. When a person has anxiety, they keep replaying the past conversations. This happens as they think about how others may have made fun of them. This is a part of self-critical behavior. This can also be seen in people who are depressed.
  5. People with low self-esteem also keep replaying past conversations in their heads. They keep engaging in self-deprecating patterns where they blame themselves for any small mistake.

Chapter 3:

How Does Replaying past Conversations in Your Head Affect You?

Rumination is not always a stand-alone problem. In most cases, the worry about past conversations is a part of mental disorders like anxiety or depression. For example, if a person has social anxiety, they will keep replaying past conversations. They do this to make sure that they have not done anything that can be made fun of. If a person has worry about the future, they will keep thinking of the past to make sure they don’t repeat mistakes.

Worrying about past conversations affects people in many ways. Firstly it wastes a lot of time. People who worry about past conversations engage in an intense replay of past events. This is done at the expense of precious time. They may do this at work. This can affect their productivity at work. This can lead to breaks in focus.

Additionally, overthinking can be harmful. A person who keeps replaying past conversations may overanalyze events. They may end up concluding a negative outcome. In reality, this may not even be the case. For example, a person who has fear of losing a loved one will keep replaying the conversation from a fight. They may come up with conclusions without discussing them with their partner.

Chapter 4:

How to Stop Worrying about past Conversations?

As discussed, once you are caught in this worry about past conversation cycle, it is difficult to come oOnce a person gets into this cycle of thoughts, it is tough to come out. At first, the intensity of such replays is less. Over time it becomes a habit. This worry about past conversations eats up your present. You cannot live your life to the fullest. This stops you from doing anything productive. Understanding the causes of rumination is the first step toward coming out of it. Replaying past conversations is a soothing technique. Therefore it is difficult to give it up. It is important to acknowledge that excessive worry about past conversations is a problem. Replaying them gets you in a loop. Here are some ways to handle this worry about past conversations.
Get Busy
Rumination is often a result of an excess of free time. Engage yourself in productive tasks. Maintain a list of tasks to do daily. Maintain a routine. This routine should consist of small manageable tasks. When the task is too easy, you are likely to get distracted. When the task is too hard, many are likely to quit and engage in rumination. Therefore manageable and interesting tasks can prevent you from drifting off.
When you catch yourselves worrying about past conversations and replaying them, try to distract yourself. The aim of this distraction is to break the loop of conversations and thoughts. You can do many things like call your friends or watch a movie. Do something that will keep your mind busy. You can play with a puzzle or listen to your favorite songs.
Grounding Work
This involves practicing exercises or activities that bring your mind to the here and now. A simple grounding exercise will be to take a soft object in your hand and close your eyes. Try to feel the shape, texture, and smell of the object. You can even engage in listening to meditative sounds. The idea is to engage the mind in activities that focus on the present moment. Mindfullness-based meditation practices have emerged to be excellent practices to bring the focus on the present.
Make the Problems More Concrete
When the problem is in your head, it is very abstract and ambiguous. Try to take action to solve it. Take a paper and write down the problems that you have been replaying in your head again and again. Note down possible solutions. When your mind is solution-focused, the replay of past conversations decreases. Note down realistic solutions to your problems. Try to implement that solution. Once that problem is solved, it will stop replaying in your head.
Question Your Negative Thoughts
When you are worried about past conversations, you sometimes self-blame. In that case, you can try to look at this conversation from different perspectives. You can try to understand why you behaved in a certain way. You can also think about why the other person may have acted in a way. One can take a step to hold a conversation with that person. This will reduce your worry about past conversations with that person.
Work on Improving Your Self Worth
As discussed earlier, people with low self-esteem have a habit of replaying past conversations in their heads. This is because they think low of themselves. They constantly replay conversations to see if they have done or said something embarrassing. This leads to worry about past conversations with friends or strangers. You can work on improving your self-esteem by joining a personality development course. You can also seek professional help to understand what core beliefs lead to low self-esteem. One can work on their strengths. Reading books on self-esteem can also be helpful.
Understanding Your Triggers
Worrying about past conversations can be due to many reasons. It is important to understand what is causing your rumination. Whenever you find yourself replaying past conversations in your head, note down what led to the rumination, and note down your thoughts and feelings. In your diary note, down the time and situation, you are in. This record can help you understand your trigger better.

Chapter 5:


Worrying about past conversations happens to most of us. It happens because we all love to be careful with our words. We value our own reputation and our relations with others. However, at times, letting go is also very important. Dwelling on the past prevents us from living in the present Replaying past conversations in our head ruins our present moment.

One of the common causes of rumination or worry about past conversations is a need to be perfect. When we have unrealistic goals, we beat ourselves up for doing something wrong. This makes us rethink our conversations again and again. We keep wondering why we didn’t reach a particular goal. At Epsychonline, there is a course on Perfectionism. This course is curated by experts and is self-help in nature. There are articles that focus on anxiety. For example, the article on social anxiety gives a better understanding of why some people who are fearful of social situations may keep ruminating about a particular conversation. These courses can help to stop replaying past conversations in your head. Do check them out.

"Learnt a lot from this course" Sally

51 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

$9.00 $12.00

25% discount