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Are You Going ‘Round In Circles? How To Break The Cycle


Have you ever felt sometimes that your life was going ’round in circles? That you were stuck on some broken record? Repeating the same cycles – the same patterns? I know I have.

And it can be frustrating. Dizzying. Maddening. And hard to know what to do about it.

So what are some options?

Well, maybe it depends on how you look at it…

For instance, the way cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) might look at these circles and cycles is as though they’re  a pattern to be stopped. Caught in the act and nipped in the bud.

If this feels like the approach you’d like to take, then it’s important to get to know your particular pattern more intimately. To consciously think about what exactly lands you in the loop.

So, which thoughts might precede your cycle?
How do you actually get into it when it starts?
What seems to kick it off?
And which behaviours might help give it momentum? Or keep it going?

Can you question any of those thoughts that are involved?
See if they really hold true, or if they’ve just become habitual.

And then ask yourself which other ways of being might break that locked circle of habit and offer some other options instead?

These can all be really valuable questions to experiment with.

Yet maybe there’s another way of seeing this whole going ’round in circles business.

Not just as something to be stopped or changed, or made into something that it’s not.

Maybe it’s possible to just accept it as it is for a while.

To see what it’s like just to more consciously experience the emotional space inside that circle.
To really notice how it feels.
To mindfully follow its trajectory for a while.
And see what comes of that.

For if the paradoxical theory of change is right, just allowing something to be what it is (allowing you to be as you are) invites inevitable change.

And perhaps, as the philosopher Heraclitus suggested, “You cannot step twice into the same river.”

So maybe you can’t actually step twice into the same cycle, the same circle, anyway (as much as it might feel like it sometimes).

Maybe, instead, you’re walking a slightly different path this time, even if a lot of it seems the same. And maybe it’s important to see those differences, to really notice them, really take them on board. And to feel the changes that have come (as small as they may seem).

Perhaps, in this way, what feels like a circle or a vicious cycle might actually be leading somewhere after all.

And maybe it’s spiralling its way somewhere important

And maybe, just by engaging with the circle, the cycle, in this way, you’re already starting to get somewhere different.


Photos and text copyright: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar
Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a writer, blogger and Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She was the former editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.
Are You Going ‘Round In Circles? How To Break The Cycle

Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar

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APA Reference
Gawne-Kelnar, G. (2011). Are You Going ‘Round In Circles? How To Break The Cycle. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2020, from


Last updated: 13 Sep 2011
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