Recently a truly wonderful friend gave me a tiny and perfectly delicate friendship ring. At first blush, it’s a blush rose gold bow encrusted in pave crystals. It’s pretty, and sparkly, and also subtle, and reminds me constantly of the beautiful human who gave it to me, and who wears the same one on her hand. The other day I looked a little closer, and when turned it to its side, the bow is actually an infinity symbol. That infinity loop made me think of the unconditional and infinite love and laughter I have with this friend, making me smile so big and wide I invariably cried with joy, because that’s just the kind of girl I am.
I started to think more about the infinity symbol, about how it has appeared over and over again in my world in the past several weeks, and how it feels to me that this is a sacred symbol in my life. I started to think about the infinite and unexplored universe, the infinite possibilities that lay just around the corner; about the new people to meet, new experiences to have, new lessons to learn, and new places to explore. It made me think about the infinite love that is mine for the taking, and especially for the giving, everyday, at every moment that feels right and true.
Those thoughts made me feel so warm and squishy, that I felt my little thought loop had come full circle, wrapping me in comfort and warm fuzzies, just like a bow.
Then I got thinking about how sometimes I get stuck in a pattern of infinite thinking in a less than positive way; how this brain of mine tends to, on occasion, get hung on on a problem, and start to cycle through the issue at hand, through all the contributing factors, and loop around back to where I started with the problem in the first place. So around I go again, moving through the issue and the problem and the factors and the lack of solution, and I just keep looping around and around and around till I feel like I’m being whipped around some sadistic roller coaster of infinite thinking that is getting me nowhere, and getting me there faster each time I fling around.
I can’t be alone in this. If I had to guess, I’d say there are a fair number of us bright, driven, enthusiastic, and hella capable women who have all but built a vacation home in our heads, and live there a little more often than is warranted or even comfortable. Sometimes we get stuck on the pattern of an infinite loop in our thoughts, especially if there’s a problem we’re trying to solve in our life. The tricky thing about that “gah! I’m stuck!” feeling, is that it just keeps going round and round, faster and faster, till the problem can seem insurmountable, and unsolvable.
So, like any other bright, driven, enthusiastic, and hella capable woman, this is when I put on my solutions-based lens. Because where there is a problem, there is always a solution. And sadistic roller coaster ridealongs be damned, in the sage words of Vanilla Ice himself, “if there is a problem, yo – I’ll solve it.”
I got thinking about how to find that solution, even when you’re a little distracted by the unconscious whiplash that is starting to accumulate in your head, and how to make it possible to slow the hell down, find the trigger, and in doing so, find the solution to get off of this negative and seemingly infinite track loop. You have to really slow down. Like, reallllllly slow down. Really examine every thought along the way of that loop, as it happens. Feel it, invite it in to get to know it a little better, and look way deep down into its eyes to find out where its coming from.
For me, when I really start to put my thoughts into slow motion, and painstakingly examine where that – let’s call it anxiety – is coming from, I find that it almost always stems from a feeling of being connected; for example, when I feel connected (to my people, to my environment, and as a result, my feelings) I operate at what Spinal Tap would call an “eleven.” I feel unstoppable, like I can take on the world and not only handle any obstacle it may throw at me, but clear those obstacles for everyone around me.
However. When I hit a bump – or in more specific language, when there is a person or place or feeling from whom or which I feel disconnected, I start to spiral. It’s like my brain just buckles up and buckles down for a wild ride, repeatedly tossing me around its increasingly fast track to nowhere.
Once I figured out that it is the absence of feeling a connection that triggers this course of action, I suddenly found myself in a position to take action against this negative loop, and start to get some control over my thoughts again. Now, anytime I start to have that wide eyed and gut based “uh oh, brace yo’self” kind of feeling, I can consciously make myself stop, pull out my metaphorical magnifying glass, and start to look for clues: what am I really feeling right now? What or who am I feeling disconnected from? How can I address that root issue, and better equip myself to deal with the negligible issue of a plant that’s grown from that root, above the surface where I can see it? What can I control about my own response to those feelings of disconnection, and what can I let go of from that feeling in order to process the disconnect, and deal with the issue at hand?
When I get really deep and introspective with myself like that, I can feel the shift. Suddenly I realize I’m not frustrated or upset about something that is seemingly trivial but unsolvable, I am actually frustrated and upset about something much deeper, and can start to take action on how to process that.
How about you? When you really slow down, and consciously examine that “thing” that finds you whipping around an infinity loop roller coaster ride that you don’t recall buying a ticket for, let alone waiting in line to get on, what is your bigger picture? Is it something you are afraid of that’s masquerading as something else on the surface? Is it a sense of residual inadequacy or fear of disappointing yourself or others? Is it a matter of feeling like you’ve lost control over an aspect of you life that is causing you to set up shop in your head and camp out for awhile?
You might not know right now. Hell, you might not know for awhile. But when you feel ready, really allow yourself to slow down from whatever you’re doing, whatever you’re thinking, whatever you’re feeling, and turn inward. I guarantee that whatever issue has you looping around is just an offshoot of something that’s rooted in your core. And when you start to feel brave enough to dig deep and explore that root issue, you’ll start to find a way of healing it, and tending to it so that it can grow beautiful plants worth nurturing, versus an annoying weed that takes on the less than welcome qualities of the undead.
Don’t get me wrong; it can feel scary or overwhelming in its own right to do so, to dig deep and deal with your stuff. But the reward is so great: it starts to alleviate, and I think ultimately kibosh the inefficient (and frankly, annoying) pattern of worry and anxiety that can get us caught up in ourselves. So think about that. Think about when you feel ready to re-chart your course along a different ride, and allow yourself to travel that infinity loop of stuff that makes you feel great. And if it means you happen to pick up a new piece of jewelry to get you started on that path, you won’t find any protesting here.