Sunday, September 8, 2013

How to break a sprial

Does this happen to everyone? Where your head spirals down and takes your heart with it?

I spent most of the vacation in tears. I don’t know if it was a natural reaction being around a family that had its fair share, if it was wishing I had a partner to enjoy the vacation with, or if it happen to be the only time all of the stress and toxicity from work combined with the loneliness and isolation to manifest a nuclear meltdown.  Either way, I spiraled.

I hate the feeling. I fight it tooth and nail. I beat myself up for being so self-indulgent that I would feel bad about my life when others have so many more challenges (nothing makes you feel worse than when you want to be validated but instead someone compares you to someone else who has it worse so you feel guilt instead of relief that understanding can so easily bring!)

At this point in my life, I am intimately familiar with the spiral. It happens more than I’d like to admit. So I’ve spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out the magic key to breaking the spiral.

Here is my recipe (continually refined until is a recipe for preventing the spiral at the onset):

Goal: Gain perspective

Ingredient #1: Gratitude. Gratitude is needed to gain perspective. It is needed to see all of the points of light shining through the dark.  What isn’t there, isn’t there - it’s not going to change by brooding.  What is there is something to be noticed and acknowledge, because what is there is frequently so much more than we realize.

Ingredient #2:  Rest. Exhaustion opens the gate to spiral. When I’m well rested and buzzing along, perspective stays intact. But exhaustion will wipe out perspective faster than my dog can wipe out a plate of leftovers (lightening speed!).

Ingredient #3: Healthy food. This is exactly when I want to sit in bed and eat sweets all day. Which only help to fog up the mind and weigh down the belly. Some form protein along with healthy stuff helps to clear the head and make room for the gratitude and perspective.

Ingredient #4: Levity. Frequently this can come in the form of music, or even better dancing until your insides are properly shaken up!  

For this particular spiral, my levity came in the form of the song “Carry On” by Fun. My favorite line being, “I like to think I can cheat it all, to make up for the times I’ve been cheated on”. A perfect summary of my spiral - raging against the ways I felt cheated. But the rage blocked the points of light (which are increasing with time, creating more light than dark), and I got stuck in the dark for a while.  Hearing that lyric was such a relief to know someone else must have felt the same.  So, as the singer instructs, I decided to Carry On, and break this spiral.

What do you do to break a spiral? Please add to the recipe!

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