– Repetitive cycles of negativity. 
– Energy draining drama whirlpools. 
– Soapbox operas. 
– Endless loops going nowhere. 
– Slippery slopes leading down, down, down. 
– He said, she said.

We all know them, we’ve all experienced them, often in concert with our closest colleagues and our dearest loved ones. Why do we choose to tread the same ground over and over? Do we actually believe that if we explain it to them just one more time, surely, surely they will see the blinding obvious truth (aka “See it our way”)? There is optimism and then there is magically thinking!

We all have situations where we learned the other side’s position so, so well over the years, we could easily switch sides and read their script, speak their lines from heart without skipping a beat (actually a fun exercise to do to break the tension AND a path to “Seek 1st to Understand, then to be Understood”).

So why, oh why, do we keep getting back on the roller coaster ride to nowhere? Isn’t doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result the punchline for the definition of insanity?

Well, we all want that mythical last word. Furthermore, we are all creatures of unconscious habit and these situations do sneak up on us (life likes to give pop quizzes) and we find ourselves drawn in, oft before we even know it. I find journaling (Where did my energy go today? Where was I effective? Where did I miss growth opportunities?) very helpful in raising my awareness. I also find it useful to “Name the Game” i.e. go to the other party in a peaceful time and talk about the dynamic and how to find a better process (not necessarily to find a solution to the specific issues before you but rather creating more effective coping mechanisms, better dispute resolution procedures, even how to agree to disagree graciously i.e. without making each other wrong or bad).

I find the visualization of being about to bite on to an attractively baited fishing hook to be an extremely powerful metaphor that helps motivate me to avoid getting drawn into a no-win emotional loop. 

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier