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Vicious Circles and Virtuous Spirals. Where are you?

Updated: Mar 31, 2023

Have you ever found yourself in a vicious circle?

I’m sure many of you have been in one or two in your lives so far. A few years ago I found myself in a Vicious Circle, which started when a big coaching contract came to an end and I was finding it difficult to bring in new work. My negative self-talk got louder and louder saying things like “you’re no good”, “you’ll never make it as a coach”, “you can’t support yourself” etc. And guess what; with those thoughts and beliefs, it did become harder and harder to generate new work. A Vicious Circle had begun.

As explained in the book The Art of Coaching “People often use the term "vicious circle" to describe a process that incrementally drains their energy and negates their positive intentions. They rarely talk about "Virtuous Spirals"!

Both are processes where once we are caught up, there is an ongoing impetus leading us further in the same direction, maybe without our noticing initially what is happening.”

Have you ever found yourself in a Virtuous Spiral?

About a year later in 2012, I found myself in a Virtuous Spiral. I was volunteering as a Games Maker for the London Olympics, I had started dating a wonderful man, was hosting friends from Mexico and had gained some lucrative new work through a friend. It was summer and things were good. My self-talk was positive, I felt great and I was enjoying my life. A Virtuous Spiral!

So how do we get in and out of these Vicious Circles and Virtuous Spirals? Are they just part of life or can we consciously change the direction once we’re caught up in them?

If I retrace my steps between 2011 and 2012 there were things I changed in my life, which I believe changed the direction of the cycle.

  • I started to attend regular meditation mornings at my local yoga centre and met some supportive people there who I went for coffee with afterwards and built some new friendships.

  • I also joined a support group for self-employed people that taught me new ways of managing my money

  • I reached out to my friends and family much more during this time.

So I would say getting support was the key, as I couldn’t do it on my own. When I look back at that magical summer of 2012, I notice that I was living many of my core values.

Community is one of those values, which I felt a great sense of by volunteering as a Games Maker, Plugged In is another value, which again I was living by being involved in the Olympic Games. Connection is another, which I felt by having my Mexican friends to stay.

I think that being aware of and choosing to live my values boosted my confidence and created the impetus to move up the Virtuous Spiral.

Where are you in relation to either spiral and what would be different if the spiral was going the other way? Consider these questions:

  • Where do you see yourself at the moment?

  • What’s the energy driving this movement?

  • What would you like to be different?

  • How could you start to turn the process around?

  • What values are you not honouring?

If you do find yourself in a Vicious Circle, we offer various forms of support to help you change the direction to start the Virtuous Spiral.

Contact me for a free clarity session. Don’t struggle on your own.


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