The Downward Spiral
In chapter 21 we examined our battery level. How much energy we have left, which affects our entire being, actions, behavior, and relationships.
In this chapter, we will examine a powerful tool, that you can use in the game of life. This tool requires discipline and practice to unlock, and may change your life.
First, will examine a real life scenario without using this tool. Then we will roll back the tape, employ the tool, and see the difference.
This tool is tricky to assess, as you can only measure its effects when you are NOT using it. When you use it, you get an “un-experience”, which is hard to measure.
Nonetheless, this chapter is written to help you examine this tools, and the benefits it holds.
What is the Downward Spiral?
: a situation in which something continuously decreases or gets worse
“Her life was in a downward spiral as she battled depression and addiction.”
For this chapter, we will call the downward spiral, the chain of events that ensue when you are not using the tool.
Here is the scenario:
Imagine a day that has the following sequence of events…
- The person gets up after tossing and turning in bed all night
- The person gets ready to go to work and realizes they woke up late, so they skip eating breakfast
- At work the person learns that they forgot their laptop at home, as their daily routine was not followed as usual
- The person drives back home to get the laptop, and on the way gets into a fender-bender, a small car accident
- After the delay of exchanging insurance information, the person gets home, takes their laptop and now rushing back to work
- They now realize that they have an important meeting, and will not have time to eat lunch before the meeting
- During the meeting, their stomach is making funny noises, which everyone can hear, making the situation embarrassing
- When the meeting ends, the person rushes to the cafeteria, only to find it closed, so they try to get something from a vending machine
- Realizing they do not have coins or bills to feed the vending machine, the person just gives up and says to themselves they will eat when they get home
- The person also now realize they have not had a bathroom break all day
When the person finally drives home, and opens the door with their last bit of strength – their loving family is there.
When their five year-old daughter wants to show the drawing she made for the person, she is met with a growl of tiredness and impatience.
When the spouse says dinner will be ready in an hour, the person is hearing that food is not available NOW. The person is further enraged, mutters something that on any other day they would not. The person is continuing on the downward spiral.
The family pet senses the distress in the person. The pet wants to calm the person down and give them attention. Yet, the person pushes the pet away, with a snarky comment.
Everyone in the household, who loves this person, are seemingly useless in helping them feel better. Furthermore, they are being scorned for not meeting the dire needs of the person.
At this point, the person has a multitude of unmet needs:
- Did not go to the bathroom all day
- General sense of being moody after all they have gone through.
- Stressed out
- Mad at themselves for not being fun to be with
- Feeling that anything they say, and do, is just making things worse
They are not in the mood to receive love, nor can they provide it at the moment.
When the person is in this state of mind, everything they say and do, further takes them into the downward spiral. Jokingly, you want to tell them to “throw away the shovel”, as they keep digging themselves in with every word they say.
What further complicates the situation, is that the person does not mean to do anything bad. The set of circumstances is affecting their state of mind.
Moreover, in the future, after hours, or days, when they are back to their faculties – they realize the hurt they caused. They are now further tormented.
They now have to either live with the fact they said things they regret, and need to ask for forgiveness, or decide to feel the guilt of their behavior without showing remorse. Either way, it further compounds the complexity of the situation.
A situation they did not choose. A situation they would gladly avert if they could.
So how can you avoid falling into the downward spiral?
In this scenario, there are a few options to avert the sequence of events during the day, or before the day has begun.
For example, after not sleeping well all night, and feeling frazzled in the morning – perhaps taking a day off, would change the course of history.
The tool I am sharing, assumes that ALL 10 things happened, and the person did not have the option to avoid them.
The key is to recognize that you are in a state of mind that is NOT NORMAL for you. To recognize that you are “not yourself” at the moment. Without this recognition, the tool will not help.
The tool is simple, and powerful. It is avoidance, silence, abstinence.
When the person is about to leave work and go home, they should check their state of mind:
- How tired am I?
- How hungry am I?
- How thirsty am I?
- How much I need a bathroom break?
- How much battery is left in me?
- How much patience I have to give to my loved ones?
- How stressed out do I feel?
- How is my mood?
Based on these simple checks, they can assess the need to use “the tool”.
If you do not use the tool, and go home, you will surely continue the downward spiral. You will hurt others, unintentionally. You will end up feeling sorry for your actions. You will end-up apologizing for actions you could have avoided. You may cause irreparable damage to others, and to yourself.
Having said that, using the tool leads to a better outcome. By avoiding the chain of events, you will gain “en-experiences”. You will have silence instead. You will avoid putting yourself in a scenario that will only make things worse – for yourself and others.
Find yourself a code word, that you and your spouse/family will know. This this code word will signal to them, that you should avoid contact for a while. You will not be yourself if you came back home right now. You are in no position to be there for others, as you wish to be. You are in such a deficit of energy and mental state – that you wish not to impose on others now.
Go eat something quick, go park your car and shut your eyes for a while, turn off sounds, lights, noises, your phone – and just relax and recharge yourself enough to regain yourself.
You may still walk into your home very tired, and in a bad mood. Say hello to everyone, and that you will see them later. That you need to “go rest now.”
See how that works for you, and how it actively stops the downward spiral.
Click here for Chapter 36
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