Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Around and Around We Go

An amazing post by Corner Point on the subject of boxes prompted me to think about other shapes that figure prominently in my life. Thus did I come to think of circles and thus was this post born. It is not as universal or inspiring as the aforementioned one on squares. It is, in fact, quite selfish and personal. From reading other blogs, though, I have a suspicion I’m not the only one suffering from Circle-itis.

When I think of a circle, I think of repetition. I imagine an endless loop going around and around, much like the thoughts spinning through my head. As an over analyzer, I can’t let things go, and since most things I think about can’t be immediately resolved, the same thoughts keep running circles around my brain until I want to scream at them to stop and take a breather. This leads to a somewhat stressful existence composed of many sleepless nights. I’ve tried many things to stop the frenzy, but nothing has worked to date. Pretending the thoughts don’t exist lasts about 3 seconds before they pop up again. Making my mind a blank is as hard as it sounds. Writing it out usually relieves the pressure, but only temporarily, and only with certain issues. I thank G-d every day for giving me an active, busy brain and I will take the cons along with the pros any day vs. the alternative vegetative state. I just wish it didn’t come along with so much mental anguish. Perhaps I am unique in this problem, but somehow I doubt it. If anyone out there knows what I’m talking about, please tell me how you deal.

Like circles too, We tend to repeat ourselves. Even as we make the same mistakes over and over again, we recognize that we are acting to our own detriment. The outcome is known down to the last, gory detail, yet something compels us to keep at it. I guess, we all get into a cycle of behavior and the more times we go around, the deeper the groove gets, and the harder it is to break free, making the cycle of behavior part of it's own vicious cycle.

Yup. Circles definitely factor prominently in my life.


corner point said...

You are most definitely not alone...I know so well how it feels to have my brain in constant motion, always thinking about something--rehashing, contemplaiting, discovering, musing, fretting...the works.

I'd also been working on trying to use this huge bracha (because as you said, it really, really is a bracha) to my benefit rather than letting it run away with me. Recently, I've been working hard to channel my thoughts--censor out the things I know are not beneficial for me to be thinking, to try to fill my thinking capacity with good, productive, positive thoughts. It's not easy, but it's very satisfying when you start to see results.

It's hard to say more here without being more specific and personal. If you'd like to hear more (although I don't know if I'd be that much of a help) we can continue this through email...

Hatzlacha! I'm rooting for you :-)

Ezzie said...

So true, so true... :/

I've found one technique that sometimes helps, which is simply making the circle bigger. If you trace around a small circle, it's easy to go around and around quickly. The bigger the circle, the longer it takes - the less repetitions. Stuffing more and more random [preferably positive or neutral] thoughts in the circle makes it bigger and bigger... until you realize that you're hardly repeating at all. You've broken the cycle.

Madd Hatter said...

CP- I would love to hear more if you're willing. what's you're e-mail address?

Ezzie- Sounds appealing, but I'm not sure I understand what you mean. could you elaborate?

Ezzie said...

Hmm. Say you're constantly repeating a pattern of six thoughts. You cycle through those thoughts pretty fast, so it feels like you're going in circles, right?

Now say you add in a few other tangential thoughts. Now you have 8 thoughts. Then one of those makes you think of a couple more. 10. It takes longer for your mind to cycle through them, so the 'circle' feels 'bigger'. It also means that you aren't hitting those same thoughts as often, so it's less frustrating. It makes it easier to think of even more thoughts, which makes the circle even bigger, which makes it take even longer to cycle through... and so on. After a while, you're not even really cycling anymore. You're just letting thoughts flow.

halfshared said...

I also am a deep thinker and sometimes would toss and turn at night for hours just cuz I couldn't stop thinking. I slowly changed myself to let things ride and sort of switch off when I need to. It has helped me a lot especially in that I used to take things much more personally than I do now and would get hurt for things that were not meant to hurt. On the other hand, it is good to think sometimes. A deep thinker is usually not a shallow person.

corner point said...


I just noticed that one of your favorite books is "Up the Down Staircase."
I didn't know anyone else in the world who even read that, let alone liked it as much as I did!!
We need to discuss...
Looking forward to hearing from you :-)
Here it is...iluvpotatokugel at gmail.

Scraps said...

Ah yes...I know well the blessing and the curse of a too-busy brain. It races around and around in circles, and all attempts at distraction are rendered useless. This happens to be one of the reasons why for years I went to sleep at insane hours every night--because it was a choice between lying awake and thinking too much, or making myself busy with things and keeping my mind too occupied to give it a chance to turn on itself.

Sometimes what works for me is to try to catch the cycle very early on, before it's too late to stop. For instance, if I notice my mind is starting to get into self-critical mindloops, I'll try to take a mental step back, take a deep breath, and say, "Scraps, you know this stuff isn't true or accurate in any way, and you aren't allowed to talk or think about yourself like that!" Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but when it does, it's usually because of early detection.

Madd Hatter said...

Halfshared- thanks. I like the positive spin at the end:)

Corner Point- You will def. be hearing from me shortly;)

Ezzie-Oh. Okay. much clearer:P Forget it, I'll just ask you at thanksgiving. BTW, nice use of "tangential";)

Scraps- Have you been invading my thoughts at bedtime? Dead on!

pobody's nerfect. said...

obsessing is the root of all evil.
it keeps you from moving on and improving.
it breeds anxiety and overreacting.
it expands as you give it attention until it's taken over your mind entirely.
it cannot be given a voice.
it needs to be stopped.
join the cause today and get your free frisbee.

Madd Hatter said...

Pobody- Have I told you recently how amazing you are?