Getting Out of the Spin Cycle
For many of us who have spent time engaging in our own personal development through workshops, retreats, etc. we have identified patterns of thinking and behaviours that we judge to be ineffective.
In other words, we know what isn’t working and we’ve taken action to correct those behaviours. Yet somehow, before we know it, we are “in it” again.
Perhaps one of the most insidious, ineffective habitual patterns that resurfaces is the “being hard on ourselves” spin-cycle. This spin-cycle feels like a continuous loop of negative language that throttles us energetically when in its grip. Thoughts such as: I can’t believe I said that or did that, I should’ve done that better, sooner, differently, what was I thinking? I can’t believe I said that at the meeting, I’m not smart enough, good enough, I could’ve done it this way or that way, I wish I’d have said this, I should’ve finished this last night, etc. etc…
In the past, I’ve referred to myself as a recovering perfectionist. I can always see how things could be made even better. This quality is a strength. It inspires me to go to the next level of mastery in my career goals and personal goals and has served me well. The trouble is, this strength becomes a weakness when taken to the extreme. When aiming for improvement turns into the “world class critic” this can lead to the spin-cycle.
I’ve been conscious of this cycle for years and it is pretty rare for me to find myself in this mode. When this kind of negativity does manage to bubble up again, it is humbling.
If you too have found yourself in the spin-cycle or a similar negative pattern of thought, here is what I recommend:
1) Recognize that you are not your thoughts. You are the awareness that is thinking them.You are not your thinking and You are not your circumstances. See your thinking clearly and without judgement.
2) Decide to make a different choice. In the moment, choose thinking that is self-validating and begin to create a different, positive-thinking loop.
For example, think about what is working, what you’re grateful for, what you can learn from this, all the while generating extreme care in your direction. i.e: Everything always works out for me, I am so supported, There are many options for me, Life is unfolding perfectly, All is well, etc.
Engaging in exercise, like walking or running, working out etc. while doing this is very beneficial.
3) Stop believing everything you’re thinking. Your brain sends you false messages of negativity in order to keep you “safe”.
4) The combination of self-compassion and a positive-thinking loop loosens the grip on this negative cycle and gets you moving in the right direction.
Recently, I was watching a wonderful program on PBS; Bill Moyers interviewing Joseph Campbell. Joseph Campbell studied, wrote and lectured extensively about the power of myths, psychology, religion, spirituality and the essence of these stories for examining the meaning of our lives. One of his messages in the program was that we are not really seeking the meaning of life but seeking the experience of feeling fully alive.
Being in a negative thinking pattern is pretty much the exact opposite of feeling fully alive.
It is our challenge to consciously avoid this negative thinking a.s.a.p. and get back to feeling good and generating joy.
As you begin to feel good, you’ll get moving ~ congratulations, you’re on your way to creating more amazing results!