Every life has it’s ups and downs; every project has it’s speed bumps.
It’s not the normal ups and downs and speed bumps we need to worry about (well, we have to worry about and deal with them sometimes, but there are bigger issues). A nastier problem is when we get into a destructive cycle. A classic example of this is what finance people refer to as perma-debt.
How the credit cards bite you
Perma-debt is what happens when you consistently pay your nearly maxed out credit card and then put a bunch of stuff on the credit card leaving you right back where you were in the first place. You now have to pay the interest on all the debt you haven’t paid off, and on all the new stuff. You’re stuck with another high interest payment. And, you get to do the whole thing again next month. The only way out of this is to cut back (or cut off) putting things on the credit card and pay down the bill, or try to file bankruptcy (which is really a last resort and can cause bigger problems). The way out of the problem is often painful, so a lot of people don’t do it. Not taking the way out means you’re stuck in the cycle. Credit cards aren’t the only place this happens.
Writers Block (you can make it or break it)
There are times that I really can’t wrap my mind around what I’m working on. There are times that I really can’t seem to get words on the page. This can easily turn into a cycle if you let it. If you keep pushing, or worse stop pushing, and get stuck on the idea ‘I have writers block’ you won’t get any where at all writing. You’re now focused on being unable to write. Getting out of this cycle can be less and more painful than with the credit card. It is easier because you have a wider range of options on what you can do to get out. It is harder (for me at least) because writing is both a source of income (money) and gratification (a good story and/or the feeling of achievement from finishing something). So, yes there are more ways around, but there is real pressure to break through and do. The answer is to find a different option and being willing to take it, even though it isn’t necessarily fun. One of the things that works best for me is to change tactics on what part of the project I’m working on, or just change projects. Not finding a solution makes me depressed.
One of the symptoms of clinical depression is a lack of interest in things that you have previously found pleasurable. When you’re not interested in something you tend not to do it. When you tend not to do things you find pleasurable your choices shrink to neutral or unpleasurable. So, you’ve cut off the positive end of the spectrum and your best choice is to do something that won’t be depressing. This is a kind of logic, but it’s bad logic. Bad in that you’re not improving anything (getting deeper into depression isn’t really improving…).
Depression really is cyclical, because you lose interest in the pleasurable, and don’t do it you don’t do anything to pull yourself out of the depression. Your ‘only’ choices are things that will pull you deeper into depression or things that seem like there neutral. The ‘neutral’ things don’t satisfy and tend to lead you deeper into depression. The hard choice, the one your depression doesn’t want you to see, is to choose to do something that will lead to getting out of the depression. You have to be aware of your situation and make a conscious positive choice. The first one will make the second one easier, but like paying off the debt or getting the words flowing, making and following through with the first choice may not be much fun.
What do we do?
As the Dog Whisperer points out the trick in dealing with (correcting) a problem behavior, like getting stuck in a cycle, is to take corrective action early. It is a lot easier to pay off the credit card, change tactics on writing, find something that isn’t depressing early on, before you’re really upset, dug in and thinking poorly.
Breaking or avoiding negative cycles requires being aware and honest with yourself. It also requires actively choosing to do something to break the cycle. Maybe, maybe, someone will wander along and offer to help you get out of the cycle, but even then it’s not magic. You have to do something.
Other people can help, but more likely than not you will have to seek out the help (which is choosing to do something for yourself). And, other people can’t really cure your behavioral (or thinking) cycles for you.They can’t do it for you but they can help you to do it. The most powerful person in helping you is you.
Change doesn’t usually happen all at once. Change can happen fast, but usually not all at once. By being aware of your situation and making good choices you are taking steps to break yourself out of negative cycles, or better yet preventing them in the first place.
That’s it for this time dear reader.
Till next time: you can make ’em, you can break ’em. The choice is up to you.