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  • Writer's pictureHelen Dempsey-Henofer

How to break the cycle

and see yourself out (of the same old thing)

Hey Hey Hey Wanderer,

Do you ever find yourself stuck in a time loop? Like, crap, I'm doing this again?

Maybe it's when rehashing old stuff with your partner or struggling with work.

You might notice you're in a spiral when you're exerting a lot of energy for very little benefit.


If you find this is true for you... welcome. You're in good company. Also! If you're up for it, I'm going to suggest a little experiment.

Before we set up the experiment, let's examine the loops you get stuck in.

Feedback loops are systems of reinforcement. They can be to your benefit or detriment and the first step to getting out of them is noticing that they exist.

You may have experienced something like this before. Let's imagine you meet up with a friend and they seem distracted and distant (trigger / cue) and you have the thought, "They're totally bored with me. I suck at relationships," and feel discouraged (thought - feeling). You shut down, putting up an emotional wall between yourself and your friend (action - response).

If you've had a similar experience, you're familiar with how this plays out. I'd encourage you not take my word for it, but reflect on your own experience.

In the above situation, if you shut down its likely to influence the environment, putting a wedge between yourself and your friend which leads to more thoughts and feelings, which leads to more actions, which influence your environment... and so on. Painful feedback loops are sucky situations with compounding interest.

The lovely thing about them is that once you can see them, you can learn to interrupt them. Interrupting them means taking responsibility for what's within your control: noticing yourself caught in a loop and switching things up by taking action, experimenting with how you want to show up.

Big ol' caveat here: this is all about practice.

Consider the vicious loop created by expecting perfection.

Reading a letter isn't therapy. If you're in Virginia and looking for a therapist, visit the website to schedule a free consultation. While not a substitution for the individual care of mental health treatment, what the letter does is it puts therapy concepts into writing so that they can be accessed more widely. If you know someone who'd benefit, forward this on to them. There are two ways to sign up, a consent checkbox for new clients in intake, or easy-peasy from the website... available for anyone.


So, Wanderer, let's acknowledge; breaking a cycle is no small feat. Often embedded in loops are defense mechanisms. We'll get into that.

Maybe you're ready to experiment with how you show up. Maybe not. The first step here is to practice noticing.

Speaking of noticing, how about now? Here you are, choosing to read about prioritizing yourself. Mmmm, delicious.

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