When you are stuck in a cycle or are feeling resistant you have
four options: (1) Stay in it and hope the feeling will eventually pass, (2) Stay in and try to figure out exactly what
your issues are, (3) Get out and reflect, or (4) Get out and try to forget.
While getting out is crucial it is not the only needed step: it often does not do to solely change behavior. If you do not define and work through the mental, emotional, spiritual, or existential problems also- which are the real problems – they are bound to return in new forms.
This can be true even if the problem-behavior is changed. One behavior may soon replace another, and you'll essentially be back where you started. The situation will look different, but it's essentially the same situation you've always been in.
Finding the First Cause
By the “real problems,” I mean that your thoughts, feelings, and subconscious processes are the problems behind the problem. Even these might not be the end of the chain, however.
The true root of any experience is the “first cause.” Whether we have conscious access to the first cause is uncertain, but moving towards it can be insightful and useful. It can be as simple as asking yourself, “Why?,” until you hit a dead end. You won't necessarily have to go as far as the reason why the universe exists: the point is simply to dive below the surface to see what’s really going on.
Don’t use this process to create a string of false explanations for yourself, however. Unfortunately, people do this all the time. Many of us don’t know our own motives. We try to rationalize our actions by making up stories about them, though we don’t even realize we are doing this. This is a cycle unto itself.
Basically, what you need to do is look to your feelings first. Odds are that the truth is not at all far from the surface—you just haven’t looked beneath the water is all. Well, or you threw toxic sludge in there.
When you constantly put logic first, that logic may quickly become faulty. Faulty logic leads to disorienting emotions. Then, with both logic and emotion dysfunctional, you’re just a mess. It might take some reading around, groundbreaking experience, or insight to realize you’re in such a mess and to get out of it.
If you chronically feel badly, there’s something you’re not getting. There may be some underlying feeling or need you are failing to acknowledge. Usually in cycles there’s some automatic pattern running, such as a belief or habit. That pattern is the foundation of the cycle. What is a pattern, anyway, but repetition?
So maybe you’ve got your story mixed up. Be totally honest with yourself, open to whatever may come up, and take it from there. You may have a lot of resistance to doing this and might not like what you find, but it’s either that or staying in your crummy cycle.
You and Others in Your Cycle
Sometimes people don’t say anything because they’re hoping the situation will get better soon enough. They excuse themselves by saying they don’t need to create extra trouble or a fiasco. On top of that, some cycles are long and slow-- it’s possible that the last “blow-out” was as much as a year ago, and since then things have been just tolerable enough. This can make it harder to see patterns, and can also contribute to you keeping your mouth shut.
Unfortunately, being withdrawn and complacent like so can be a cycle unto itself—just like story-creation. In fact, there probably is a story here, such as that you’re doing just fine without help or that no one would want to help you anyway.
When you try to act like everything’s fine when it’s actually not, you automatically create a false public image for yourself. You have to constantly drive energy into maintaining this false persona, and as a result very little goes as you’d like it to. More and more you have to be something you’re not so that you believe your own story.
On top of that, you’re still stuck in the original cycle too. When people try to avoid things they are quite good at layering one problem, cycle, or excuse on top of another.
Where the cycle involves yourself and others, such as in a dysfunctional relationship, how responsible are you? 50% if there are two of you? 33% if three? 1% if 100? Nope. It’s 100%. Giving away any amount of responsibility only disempowers you and makes you apt to remain trapped.
I’m not telling you to shoulder a huge burden and beat yourself up for creating all this garbage, because that won’t help you either. I am asking you to be honest and come to terms with the situation. Accept what has happened, and decide what you can do to gain power now. This does not mean control over others. Rather, power is your ability to act on your conscious desires- that is, your will. I find that conscious desires generally don’t entail harm to other people.
However entrenched in this cycle you are, be introspective. Reflect, even if getting out seems impossible. Don’t get too stuck in the thinking as opposed to acting, but understand that your mental processes fuel at least 50% of the cycle, whether by conscious means or not. Use as many perspectives as possible here. Look at the situation from a variety of angles.
Chances are that if you just bypass all the snivelling fears and restrictions you’ve placed on yourself you’ll know what you should do, even if it’s scary.
I know this cycle has served as a comfy structure for you, and to let go of it might mean a downward spiral into the doom of insecurity. I have been there, and am in some such cycles right now. In fact, you will just about always be running some cycle that isn’t totally functional. But, that doesn’t mean you have to stay stuck in the totally dysfunctional, either.
To summarize so far, the two aspects of change are objective and subjective. Objective change includes behavior and outcome, and subjective change includes thoughts, feelings, deeper meaning, and overall consciousness. The four choices regarding cycles-which can be combined in pairs- are: stay in, get out, reflect, and forget.
You are safe to step out of your cycle as much as you are able. You have already seen the inside- presumably for long enough- and the only way to judge a perspective is from the outside, through the lens of another perspective. This means that you cannot size up your situation thoroughly until you step out of it.
Don’t take this the wrong way—no one can understand a situation better than someone who has lived through it. The person who lived through it has only limited vision, however, until he too steps outside.
If you really need to go back in it will become apparent soon enough, and you shall be taken back there—often without warning. Trust me, you can just about always go back to your past beliefs and behaviors if and when you need to. I have experienced this plenty of times.
If you must become ill in order to stop judging the ill, for instance, then ill you shall become. If you must become depressed in order to better understand and help the depressed, then so you shall be.
Sometimes this is far from being a fun process: at some point I find myself saying, “Okay, okay, I get it! I’ve learned the lessons! Can this go away now?” But it may not go away until we detach from outcomes and external circumstances. That is what I have found recently, particularly with illness and pain. Once I make peace with pain it hurts less, and in due time it typically leaves me. Sometimes when I say, “I do not judge this pain,” it immediately moves from a 4 to a 2, on a scale from 1-10.
Growing from the Junkpile
Ultimately, you get what you need. Of course, when destructive cycles go on for a long time they may leave a longer trail of harm than good. Perhaps at such a point the biggest reward is becoming congruent and pulling out all of your strength and wisdom to get out of the cycle; then you may live a life more in line with your desires and highest vision for yourself. Rationalizing the time it took is of negligible importance. The fruit lies in the victory itself.
If you could not only get out of, but also learn and grow from that mess, what else could you accomplish? That’s up to you.
Connect with what you must for success: look to what you ought to connect to rather than disconnect from. You may find yourself more empowered and motivated this way. Just remember– for most of us ,fear and evasion are effective for only so long before we burn out and succumb to the original patterns. It is more effective to move toward not just our problems, but the whole of our lives, with love.
Rather than pushed by fear, be pulled by love. See what greets you through the process and awaits you on the other side.