Word for thinking about the past

69 Synonyms & Antonyms of REMINISCE



as in to remember

  • remember

  • recollect

  • recall

  • learn

  • memorize

  • cross

  • occur (to)

  • emerge

  • arrive

  • dawn (on)

  • appear

  • con

  • come (to)

  • strike

  • materialize

  • forget

  • ignore

  • unlearn

  • overlook

  • neglect

  • disregard

  • forget

  • ignore

  • unlearn

  • overlook

  • neglect

  • disregard


as in to ruminate

  • ruminate

  • ponder

  • contemplate

  • explore

  • analyze

  • cogitate

  • entertain

  • meditate

  • debate

  • study

  • weigh

  • chew over

  • review

  • consider

  • revolve

  • deliberate

  • reason

  • eye

  • perpend

  • question

  • conclude

  • muse (upon)

  • mull (over)

  • reflect (on or upon)

  • turn

  • kick around

  • opine

  • believe

  • think (about or over)

  • pore (over)

  • wrestle (with)

  • digest

  • conceive

  • speculate (about)

  • assimilate

  • absorb

  • second-guess

  • fixate (on or upon)

  • dwell (on or upon)

  • obsess (about or over)

  • fret (about or over)

  • brood (about or over)

  • drink (in)

  • ignore

  • overlook

  • dismiss

  • slight

  • disregard

  • reject

  • pooh-pooh

  • pooh

  • ignore

  • overlook

  • dismiss

  • slight

  • disregard

  • reject

  • pooh-pooh

  • pooh

See More

Synonym Chooser

How is the word reminisce distinct from other similar verbs?

Some common synonyms of reminisce are recall, recollect, remember, and remind. While all these words mean "to bring an image or idea from the past into the mind," reminisce implies a casual often nostalgic recalling of experiences long past and gone.

old college friends like to reminisce

In what contexts can recall take the place of reminisce?

The words recall and reminisce are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, recall suggests an effort to bring back to mind and often to re-create in speech.

can't recall the words of the song

Where would recollect be a reasonable alternative to reminisce?

The synonyms recollect and reminisce are sometimes interchangeable, but recollect implies a bringing back to mind what is lost or scattered.

as near as I can recollect

When can remember be used instead of reminisce?

While in some cases nearly identical to reminisce, remember implies a keeping in memory that may be effortless or unwilled.

remembers that day as though it were yesterday

When is remind a more appropriate choice than reminisce?

In some situations, the words remind and reminisce are roughly equivalent. However, remind suggests a jogging of one's memory by an association or similarity.

that reminds me of a story


Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP

Get Word of the Day delivered to your inbox!

Thesaurus Entries Near




reminisce (about)

See More Nearby Entries 

Cite this Entry



“Reminisce.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www. merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/reminisce. Accessed 18 Feb. 2023.

Copy Citation

More from Merriam-Webster on


Nglish: Translation of reminisce for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of reminisce for Arabic Speakers

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Merriam-Webster unabridged


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Which Came First?

  • hot take or cold shoulder?
  • hot take cold shoulder

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?


Words at Play

  • 14 Words Inspired by Dogs

    A lexicographer's best friend

  • Great Big List of Beautiful and Useless Words, Vol. 4

    More words, more beautiful, more useless

  • 'Gray' vs. 'Grey': What is the Difference?

    Spelling isn't all black and white.

  • When Were Words First Used?

    Look up any year to find out

Ask the Editors

  • Weird Plurals

    One goose, two geese. One moose, two... moose. Wh...

  • Irregardless

    It is in fact a real word (but that doesn't mean ...

  • Bring vs. Take

    Both words imply motion, but the difference may b. ..

  • Defenestration

    The fascinating story behind many people's favori...

Word Games

  • Name That Animal: Volume 3

    Who’s who of the zoo crew

    Take the quiz

  • Love It or Hate It

    Prove you’ve got a passion for words.

    Take the quiz

  • How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

    Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

    Take the quiz

  • Spelling Bee Quiz

    Can you outdo past winners of the National Spelli. ..

    Take the quiz

nouns - Word for "obsession with reliving past mistakes"


Modified 3 months ago

Viewed 3k times

I am looking for a word that is close in meaning to nostalgia, but not so passive. Something that is compulsive. It should also be unambiguously negative. A bonus would be a connotation of anxiety.

Edit: I am looking for a noun, like nostalgia, that describes the state or emotion.

  • single-word-requests
  • nouns


Rumination is the term I have used in the past to describe the given situation.


Scrupulosity comes to mind as an anxious concern with not doing wrong, and at least in a spiritual or psychological sense, it suggests a somewhat obsessive interest in past mistakes.

There's also penitence, which is sadness for something you've done wrong, but it doesn't connote anxiety.


Habitual is the closest word I can think of. It usually is negatively toned.


If a person is constantly reliving the past, rummaging over poor decisions or errors they committed and at the same time experience feelings of loss, sadness or disappointment I would suggest the following:


Regret is often expressed by the term "sorry." Regret is often a feeling of sadness, shame, embarrassment, depression, annoyance, or guilt, after one acts in a manner and later wishes not to have done so.


Remorse is an emotional expression of personal regret felt by a person after they have committed an act which they deem to be shameful, hurtful, or violent.


indulge in enjoyable recollection of past events. It is often more of a positive term than negative, it is a verb (to reminisce). It is all about you are in the present thinking back on the past.


Sign up or log in

Sign up using Google

Sign up using Facebook

Sign up using Email and Password

Post as a guest


Required, but never shown

Post as a guest


Required, but never shown

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

What is rumination and how to stop analyzing everything

September 3, 2020 Life

Obsessive thoughts can lead to serious negative consequences.

You can not only read this article, but also listen to it. If it's more convenient for you, turn on the podcast.

What is rumination

We all sometimes endlessly think about something: a long-past presentation of a working project, yesterday's quarrel with the second half, a toast that we agreed to make at a friends wedding. Yes, and a quarterly report on the nose. We go over in our heads what we had to say, or we try to plan everything down to the smallest detail.

In most cases, this is relatively safe and no more stressful than having an annoying song stuck in your head. But there are people who just can't stop thinking about things. And this creates even greater experiences.

Such an irresistible habit of rethinking everything is called rumination, or mental chewing gum. Repetitive experiences, when a person endlessly scrolls the same situation in his head, resemble the process of chewing grass by cows.

They chew, swallow, then regurgitate and chew again. For them, this is a normal process. Well, we, people, constantly “chew” our disturbing thoughts. And there is nothing good in this.

Rumination does not bring any benefit, but only steals time and energy. It is so debilitating that it makes a person more vulnerable to anxiety and depression, while also being a symptom of these conditions.

Regardless of whether we can change what happened or predict something, our brain sometimes gets fixated on trying to control the uncontrollable. And as a result, a depressed person reflects on the losses and mistakes of the past, and an anxious hostage of rumination drowns in questions “what if?”, while always drawing a negative outcome in his imagination.

As a rule, most complex issues are resolved by careful thought and weighing. But rumination is simply the repetition of thoughts (usually negative ones) without trying to look at the problem from a different point of view.

Rumination makes it impossible to get a different idea or understanding of the problem. She just spins you like a hamster stuck in a wheel of emotional torment.

Guy Winch

psychologist, psychology author, TED speaker

The Harm of Obsessive Thoughts

They tend to be pessimistic

Usually you don't think about good things for a long time, but fixate on bad things. You don’t remember how you managed to resolve the situation at the last moment or make a good joke, but you sort through the negative in your head for a long time and stubbornly.

And thoughts are intrusive. They constantly pop up in the mind, it is very difficult to get rid of them. Especially when thinking about something is really upsetting and disturbing.

Provoke the development of serious diseases

Guy Winch in his book Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts states that returning to anxious thoughts is like constantly picking at emotional wounds, not allowing them to heal. Every time we have that same thought, it causes anxiety, and stress hormones are released in the body in huge quantities.

We can languish in our sad thoughts for several hours and days and thus put ourselves in a state of physical and emotional stress. As a result, the habit of constant thinking significantly increases the risk of developing clinical depression, impaired decision-making ability, eating disorders, substance abuse, and even cardiovascular disease.

Negatively Affects the Brain

Margaret Wehrenberg, psychologist and author of books on anxiety and depression, claims that constant repetitive thinking leads to changes in the neural circuitry in the brain.

“Rumination actually changes its structure, just as a footpath turns first into a carriageway, and then into a wide motorway with a large number of exits. And every time it becomes easier and easier to immerse yourself in thoughts.

Do not allow distraction

At some point, rumination becomes a habitual way of thinking. And as a result, it is difficult to switch to something else. The one who thinks, "If I just think about it long enough, I'll figure it all out," is making a mistake. After all, the more familiar the thought, the more difficult it is to get rid of it.

How to Stop Thinking

Practice Mindfulness

As with many mental health issues, mindfulness always helps. The first step is to determine which of your thoughts are intrusive and mentally label them as dangerous.

According to Winch, when a thought repeats itself frequently - or starts to do so - you need to catch on to it and turn it into a task that will help solve the problem.

For example, change the phrase "I can't believe this happened" to "What can I do to make sure this doesn't happen again?". "I don't have any close friends!" - in "What steps to take to strengthen relationships with friends and find new ones?".

Stop bad thoughts at the beginning

Prepare a supply of positive affirmations. For example, "I'm trying my best" or "I will be supported if needed."

According to Wehrenberg, in order to keep a repetitive thought from returning to its usual path, you need to "wipe the trail", that is, plan what to think about instead.

Sounds simple, but it's one of those things that's easy to understand and hard to do.

Get distracted to get out of the vicious circle

Winch advises redirecting your attention to something that requires concentration. Take a break for 2-3 minutes: put together a puzzle, complete a memory task. Any activity that requires concentration will be enough to get rid of the irresistible craving for obsessive thoughts.

If you are distracted every time such a thought occurs, then the frequency and intensity with which it pops up in the mind will decrease.

Keep a diary where you will pour out your experiences

It may seem strange to suggest paying even more attention to obsessive thoughts. But writing them down is helpful. Especially for those who often cannot fall asleep due to thinking.

In this case, put a notepad and pen by the bed and write down whatever is bothering you. Then tell yourself that since these thoughts are now on paper, you will definitely not forget them. And now you can take a break from them for a while.

Get help

Mindfulness meditation and cognitive techniques are most often used to help people take control of their own thinking. But there are times when a person still can not cope with the problem alone.

If you feel that obsessive thoughts seriously interfere with your life, you should contact a professional.

Read also 🧐

  • Why you can't fight depression alone
  • How to fall asleep quickly: 15 evidence-based ways
  • Scientists have discovered a mechanism that suppresses obsessive thoughts

How to stop living in the past? Reasons why people cannot forget the past

"Do not be afraid of the future and do not dwell on the past, which prevents you from living." It is this motto that should become a priority for a person who is faced with a burden of guilt, the loss of a loved one, or any event that has left an indelible imprint on the heart. But how to do it, how not to think about the past - questions that baffle people. The main thing is not to give up and know that there is a way out of the situation.

Reasons preventing a person from living in the present

Psychologists who work with patients who refuse to live for today identify a number of reasons for this behavior.




No matter how trite it may sound, but one of the main reasons that constantly makes you remember the past is age. A person, aging, is affirmed in the thought that little good lies ahead, because there are a couple of Mondays left to live. There is almost no physical and moral strength left for accomplishments, and only illness, infirmity and inevitable loneliness await in the four walls of your own apartment.

Such a position makes people idealize the past. Despite the fact that many events were bad or even terrible, there are many vivid memories of childhood, youth, and youth. A person, especially at the sunset of his fate, begins to deceive himself. But the sun now shines the same as before, and life is full of exciting moments.

Character features

The second reason that does not allow you to get rid of mistakes and start living is infantilism. People, even at a respectable age, who are under the care of older representatives, cannot independently choose their life path. Parents made decisions for such a person, so taking responsibility for life and becoming successful in the future is an impossible task. They remain in their carefree world, where memories and nostalgia reign. The desire to live in the future remains somewhere in the germ of the mind.

No incentive to move on

Another reason that makes you engage in self-digging is the lack of understanding of how you can live on. Psychology influences this. The feeling of guilt for the committed act in past years does not let a person go if he lives according to his conscience. For his mistake, committed earlier, he constantly asks for forgiveness, executes himself, daily living the events of those days. But the problem lies in the fact that traveling back to the past does not torment, but to some extent becomes a painful pleasure.

It is possible to remember the past. The main thing is to realize that all the past events are far behind. You have become completely different, someone who should live in the present and strive to become happy in the future. If it is impossible to do this on your own, then seek help from our psychologists.

Get a consultation with a psychologist


Personal package for round -the -clock communication with Russian doctors by calling

1105 ₽/month

13 256 ₽

Read more


Family communication with Russian doctors by phone

1819 ₽/month ₽/month

21 830 ₽



Maximum package of unlimited round-the-clock communication with Russian doctors by phone

2555 ₽/month

30 661 ₽

Read more

How to get rid of the oppression of nostalgia

To live in the past - to keep attention on past events or people. Of course, the past is an important life experience. But to cling to memories and live by bygone events means to slow down one's own development.

Important! If you want to change your own destiny in order to stop living in the past, make a firm decision. Any negative events should be stepped over, and the people who pull you into apathy should be left behind.

Do introspection to transform your own thoughts

If thoughts cannot be overcome, then reflection should be turned into an opportunity for introspection. To do this, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you like an event that happened in the past?
  • What experience has been gained?
  • What will I get if I do not live in the present, but immerse myself in past memories?
  • Am I looping through the same event in my memory?
  • What negative emotions do I experience when remembering mistakes?

After conducting self-analysis, you need to give a clear and precise answer: what emotions prevail during memories? If this is negative, then the work of introspection must be returned to again in order to redirect thoughts and feelings in a positive direction. Negative thinking and self-criticism must be left behind in days gone by.

Get forgiveness for mistakes

Living without mistakes is hard. Therefore, wrongdoings committed in the past are an important part of life. If you constantly conduct a permanent analysis and delve into your own miscalculations, then you will not be able to get rid of the oppression of past events. Self-forgiveness will allow you to get out of this situation. If you faced a hopeless situation, had fear or embarrassment, succumbed to a strong emotional impulse in the past, and are now faced with regret, justify and forgive yourself.

At this stage, you will have to accept your past by looking at the situation from a different angle. Take stock of the experience you were able to have, and feel sorry for yourself if it was negative. Show love for yourself by highlighting the positives that you have learned from the current situation.

Take control of your emotions

It is impossible to forget the past and learn to live in the present without positive thoughts. If you start to control your own feelings and switch to the positive, then this will allow you not to think about the departed constantly. If pleasant events have taken place recently, then it is on them that attention should be focused.

Pay attention to the body

To stop living “yesterday” and thinking about the past, you need to redirect your own thoughts from the past to what is now. To do this, you need to train the body, no matter how ridiculous it sounds. During the exercises, there is a reconfiguration of nerve impulses, which helps to overcome thoughts about the past, as there is a constant work on the psychological side of being.

You can get rid of thoughts about the past with the help of running, dancing, training. It doesn’t matter what the load will be, the main thing is that it energizes, in a good mood and gives vitality. These ingredients will help you let go of the past, get out of depression and start living in the future.


Memories of the past can be overcome if you use such an effective tool as visualization. During a mental representation, it is worth setting internal barriers that cannot be overcome in order to plunge into negative thoughts about the past.

Blocking sad thoughts that cause you to return to the past is an important skill to learn. At the psychologist's appointment, patients work out visualization in practice, developing a habit - as soon as a sad thought arises in the head, it immediately stops in its germ in the mind.

End or change an exhausting relationship

Long-term relationships built with relatives, friends, acquaintances, loved ones are difficult to break. Why? The answer is simple. In most cases, during this period, an unconscious sense of duty to the surrounding society is developed. A person, passing his life path, acquires long-term connections that affect any area of ​​​​his activity. Therefore, breaking off such contacts is often impossible.

What to do if the connection prevents you from living a full life, and also makes you regret the events left in the past? At this stage, you need to think about why you are in this relationship. For some, relationships will become an incentive for personal growth, for others, on the contrary, they will become too heavy a burden.

The kindergarten has a group of children aged 4 years. The mother of the child who comes to the meeting will not automatically feel comfortable entering into a relationship with the parents of other children. This is due to the fact that women can have completely divided interests, despite the fact that children attend the same group in the garden. In such cases, it is necessary to set the boundaries of permitted communication, which will allow the mother to save her strength and energy, and not spend them on communicating with people she is not interested in.

How to change the situation in communication?

  • Carefully analyze the communication process. First of all, you need to think about yourself, stop being afraid of what others will think if you break the connection with the “vampire” person.
  • If the relationship cannot be broken, but at the same time they cause psychological discomfort, then you need to get rid of the destructive format of communication. Change the conditions of communication, bring your arguments to the interlocutor.
  • Check if the relationships you have built really meet your life plans. If they hinder development, interfere with ambitions, career growth, day after day they force you to return to the past, are relationships really so necessary and worth obsessing over them?

It is never too late to break free from the shackles of negative relationships. You should accept the fact that connections oppress you, make you sad and cling to the past.

Important! Any relationship should fill you with joy and energy. If this is not the case, then you should not waste your life and be ashamed to break contacts in order to free up time for future pleasant acquaintances.

Change your own image

It is difficult not to be sad and not to remember the past. After all, memories of actions and events that fill the head impose restrictions on any citizen. The established frames cause a lot of discomfort, since the personality is not revealed in them, but acts to please others. The unbearable responsibility that has been placed on the shoulders of a person leads to apathy, sadness and unwillingness to live. “I want” and “I can” fade into the background, and “must” goes to the first exit.

If you are not ready for this, then by letting go of the past, you can become happy. To do this, you need to understand who you are and what kind of person others want to see you. If your current "I" contrasts sharply with the "I" that people around want to see, why save the old picture? It is worth reconsidering your own life choices.

Tanya has always been an excellent student at school. Unconditionally obeyed parents in all matters. But when she entered university, she got involved with a hippie company, changed her hair, and began to live a freer lifestyle. This behavior ruined her reputation among those around her, but she became a bright, glowing person with a wide heart and an open soul.

No, this is not a call to indulge in all serious. You need to stop being afraid, take the advice of others too close to your heart. Stop returning to the past situation that haunts today. Live, love, read books, create, sing. Do not try to return people who left on the path of life, even though you were fine with them. Stop looking at the reactions of others. Only in this case you will take steps towards the future and will not regret the past.


Why is it bad to live in the past?


Pessimism and lack of faith that only good things await in the future destroys the soul from the inside. The experience gained should only strengthen and temper, but in no way hinder development.

How to start living in the present?


Take responsibility for your own destiny and resolutely renounce the oppression of the past.

Learn more