You know, the one where you keep falling back into over and over and over again, even though you promise yourself a thousand times, this will be the last God fearing time!? Dizzy yet?
You swear on the heavens and earth, on your pet poodle, on your dead grandmother’s head, on anyone, anything and everything– just to give yourself “false” hope and strength. Sounds familiar? Yet, you find yourself on the same Mari-Go-Round reaching for the third pack of anti-nauseant, nachos or cigarettes because your excuses are no longer justifiable.
You feel like your life sucks, humanity is totally flawed and we're all over due for an apocalypse! Yup, these are all the symptoms of being stuck in a hopeless and vicious cycle.
Why do we keep going backwards and falling back into the same cycle? For a number of reasons: Habit, lack of direction, boredom, pity, guilt, obsession, addiction, false hope, laziness, lack of self-esteem or confidence, force, pressure, fear, and desperation are just some of the reasons. Every person's story and reason varies.
Whether this cycle is an unhealthy relationship, job, habit or addiction - is irrelevant. What is relevant is what they all have in common - and that is, that it's a twilight zone, a rut, a dark, deep never ending hole and cycle that no longer makes sense. All of a sudden, you feel like Alice in Wonderland looking for your sanity or better yet, a way out! You were once delusional, but now your pretty bubble has popped and the medication is wearing away; you want reality, security and peace of mind - except, you're stuck and life is moving at a snails pace while the world zoom's by. All these feelings are normal and happens to many of us, unfortunately.
All humor aside, this truly means you need to find a way out of once and for all. Boom! Yes, that was the sound of the door shutting for good. That also means jumping off that crappy ride permanently by refusing to get back on the same noisy, unproductive, rusty roller coaster that gave you a migraine and took you absolutely nowhere but in circles without a purpose in sight; the cycle that stopped you from growing, becoming wiser, smarter, healthier, and happier in life. The one that caused you to lose valuable relationships, valuable sleep and left you broke, penniless, unhealthy and friendless; do I hear crickets chirping? Do I sense depression on the rise again? How about sadness, temptation, false hope and back to denial? If you're nodding your head, read on. Don't worry, I'm speaking out of hard core experience!
Here’s a few ways to approach this addictive and disastrous urge of getting back into the same crazy vicious cycle – say, if you’re ever tempted to hop on the old ride, again: *cough*
1) IDENTIFY YOUR PROBLEM
Yes you, you've got a problem on your hands.
Okay, this will require some soul searching - I admit. But identify and get to know your problem intimately. Yes, intimately, because this is the only way you will break free, liberate yourself and never go back. Remember, keep your friends close, but your enemies closer; and your troubles are definitely not your friends, metaphorically speaking.
This means you have to be 100% honest with yourself. Not just honest, but brutally and excruciatingly honest. Yes, tough love is love - and self love is the best kind of love. It's a long life romance, so you might as well get used to your own company and offer up some tea and biscuits!
This also means not going into denial, avoiding your issues, making excuses or becoming defensive. If you act like this, you’re only harming yourself which means you don't want help. You're happy where you are, which is nowhere. You’re only fooling yourself – unless you love to act the fool??
This also means being honest with yourself by accepting and acknowledging that something is not right, and that something needs to change once you find out what your problem is. How do you identify the problem? Simple: Look for patterns and allow yourself to FEEL. If you can't get in touch with yourself, then you're not going to get anywhere feeling desensitized. If you're still speaking, then you're not in a coma! I'm not being offensive, just trying to keep this light and straight forward, we don't need to embrace anymore darkness. Hey, isn't life too serious already? I thought so!
Also discover what makes you miserable? The same person? The same situation? The same environment? What same places, people or habits cause you to feel sad, miserable, fearful, depressed or stuck or unhappy? If you look for patterns, for causes and effects, you’ll start to recognize the problem and eventually have an “ah ha!” moment or three! Let's call them Life Changing Epiphanies. Now you have something to share with your kids someday, awesome!
But what is your main problem?
Is it an addiction? A bad habit? An unhealthy or abusive relationship? A dead end job? How about lack of action or motivation? It could be anything, because problems and vicious cycles come in many shapes and forms dressed behind habit, laziness, tempting and pretty smiles!
You know what the problem is, (for you) once you take some personal time to yourself by allowing yourself to think and feel openly, calmly and genuinely. Don’t be afraid to accept what you fear or always feared– by accepting and admitting your problem the truth, or the issue to yourself, you’ll be once step closer to changing your situation and coming to a solution – for good. Think of it this way, once you identify it, you've gained credibility and you're one step closer to eliminating your problems. If your hands are out of the quicksand, there's hope. You can wave for help!
Coming to terms with your problem or issue is extremely important. It will also allow you to be vulnerable with yourself as well and identify the problem or cycle you keep finding yourself in. So yes, watch out for patterns, suspicious behavior that you partake in, or deeply rooted habits that you may have, habits that subconsciously lead you towards the same unhealthy cycle.
By reflecting on yourself, you’ll eventually find the problem, the trigger cause and the trigger instigator. It may go all the way back to your childhood or it could be a fresh problem that you chose to entertain or found yourself in recently.
The goal is to allow your subconscious, the hidden, the deep reservoirs of your repressed feelings, the culprit – all the ugliness to come to light and to surface. You have to exploit the main cause. Once you do this – you’ll find your problem. I promise.
You also have to pry it out as well, since problems, old habits and negativity love to hide in the deep corners of your heart and mind. After all, you’ve fed it for way too long. This means trying to understand yourself as best you can.
The point is to make your subconscious bad habits, actions or problems– conscious! By identifying the problem and facing the facts head on, you reveal your willingness to learn, to change, and to finally learn from experience. You can’t gain wisdom without experience, and you can’t have experience, without the desire or willingness to want to change your life for the better. Once you can look back having overcome something difficult– that’s when the experience becomes rightfully yours.
For example, if you’re in an unhealthy relationship and your partner or spouse is physically or emotionally abusive, you need to come to terms with this and accept and not deny the circumstance you’re in without making excuses for him or her. You need to say to yourself: “I’m in an abusive relationship. I do not want this anymore. I do not deserve to be abused anymore. I deserve better. I want help. I want change. I want out!” Once you identify and admit what your problem is and not deny it, you will free yourself and allow yourself to move one step closer to getting out of that vicious cycle; end identifying your problem with a positive and motivating affirmation and more importantly, follow through!
2) GET HELP
This is where you need to take proactive action and real measures– getting help is the second and most crucial step in order to avoid falling back into the same vicious cycle or same old rut now that you've identified your problem. And even if you’re still unsure, getting help can also enable you to get to the root of your issues as well.
Remember, if you don’t seek for help – you may find yourself back inside the quicksand, neck down, sinking faster then you can say “oh no!” Vicious cycles are very tempting and easy to get back into - because we're too familiar and comfortable with them, so you have to act fast.
You have to be willing to put aside your pride, ego, fear, anxiety, shyness, embarrassment, lack of social skills, awkwardness or whatever holds you back and march forward once and for all. Whatever you do – don’t look back. That’s not where help is. Help is in front of you and you need to get to it as soon as possible. If a person was running after you with a knife, are you going to look back and contemplate in your pajamas and philosophize their actions? Or are you going to run for your dear life and get help!? You get my point. So next time, imagine that your troubles are literally chasing after you – what is your next move? That’s right, get help right away!
This may mean talking to a professional, counselor, therapist, family member or a friend you trust. This also means you need to seek help by sincerely allowing others to help you, by opening yourself up, accepting their help and by being open to their advice, constructive criticism or guidance with a mature and willing attitude. So yes, get serious!
This also means being patient and stepping out of your comfort zone by being adaptable to change as well– positive change that is in the making.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable –and not judgmental, fearful, insecure, ungrateful, self-righteous or presumptuous. If you were healthy or independent, you wouldn’t be in the situation you’re in, right? Being independent also means being free of unhealthy and disastrous situations, habits or relationships. Being independent is not only about “character,” but lifestyle, and a healthy disposition.
If you keep finding yourself in the same old rut, dealing with the same old problems – then it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re independent or healthy, it means you’re making poor decisions in life or you’re in a situation that you don’t have the power to get yourself out of anymore. This isn’t a flaw; this is normal and part of life. No shame in admitting the truth. So admit that you need assistance or guidance and then take the help that is offered to you. Period.
Also remember that you’re not alone and chances are, there are many wonderful people out there that would love to help you get back on your feet or out of whatever mess you find yourself in, whether mentally, physically, emotionally or spiritually. More importantly, have a positive attitude and don’t pretend you know how things will “go down.” The fact is – you don’t know how or where help will come from or who will help you out, but the key is to start somewhere, take the first step, ask for help and accept the help you receive. Be grateful, be brave, be willing to accept all kinds of positive guidance and be willing to overcome your past.
3) ALLOW YOURSELF TO RECUPERATE AND HEAL:
DO THINGS THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY
Once you start getting help and your circumstance starts to feel better as the weeks or months go by, once you start to feel healthier, happier and away from whatever cycle you found yourself in previously, take some time to yourself to recuperate and heal by doing things that make you happy again. Celebrate Your Bliss!
You’ve come a long way and shed a lot of negativity and old cracked skin. Consider this to be therapy and celebratory! For example, take a vacation, make new friends, or find the old friends you left behind. Maybe you have some repairing or apologizing to do? Oops! Don’t worry; they’ll understand if they’re true friends. They probably miss you lots!
Take a cooking class, or a workshop, workout, explore your passion and surround yourself with positive people, energy, music, environment and activities – yes! Engage in healthy activities, work on yourself and your well being regularly– consider your vital points – your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Spiritual health and do something to pamper or treat each individual zone often– because all four elements make up and contribute to your happiness in life. If one element is off kilter, everything else will act funky and fall apart. So make some positive goals and bold life changes that will sweep you towards more harmony, peace and happiness.
Volunteering is always a great way to contribute and give back to your community. By helping someone else, you will not only feel good about yourself, but you’ll see how far you’ve come and how strong you’ve become – so strong and healthy that you’re capable enough to invest energy and help someone else, maybe even someone who was once in your position. Trust me, it will feel wonderful! And you will feel healthy by being active, present and in control of your own life once again, or maybe, even for the first time. Wow!
4) MARK AND CELEBRATE YOUR ACHIEVEMENT
Once you're healthy, confident enough and you’re out of the vicious cycle for good – create, draw, record or write something that will remind you to never look back on that day when you were at your lowest point in life – create something personal that will remind you of how far you’ve come, how amazing, strong and courageous you are for overcoming your past. This crucial reminder will always keep you on track, keep you motivated, keep you encouraged and miles away from ever getting back into the same old troubles. When you look back with maturity and a healthy frame of mind, you'll truly appreciate and love yourself. When you realize how many friends, people, opportunities or chances you lost along the way over that one circumstance or vicious cycle you were once in, you’ll be grateful to be alive, happy and no longer a victim of your own emotions or trying circumstance.
And yes, if you’re reading this with a smile and can relate, then you know what I mean!
So let's recap the 4 steps:
1) Identify your problem.
2) Get help
3) Allow yourself to recuperate and heal: Do things that make you happy.
4) Mark and celebrate your achievement.
Whether you're on step one or step four, I'd love to hear from you. Let's connect!
P.S If you're struggling or find yourselves in a rut, feel free to use my advice column and ask me any questions you may have. I'm always here to offer insightful advice. It's free and at your disposal!