Getting Stuck in a Bad Cycle is a Pain

Let your unhappiness and frustrations be your fuel to break your vicious cycles

Trina Hall

You ever gotten into a situation where you got stuck in a bad, stale, or painful routine where the same things repeated themselves over and over? At some point in our lives this has happened to us. Either we did it to ourselves intentionally or someone put us in that predicament. There are times where a series of unfortunate events happen to us that is out of our control where we get caught up in a vicious cycle. I’ve been caught up in vicious cycles by my own doing or having things out of my control work against me. So your not alone if you think vicious cycles only applies to you.

What is a Vicious Cycle

A cycle where you find yourself repeating unhealthy, unwanted, behavior, that has become a bad habit, or part of a routine is a vicious cycle or circle. We can put ourselves in this predicament intentionally and unintentionally. For example, an unhealthy routine can be so ingrained and our way of living that we don’t notice it. We don’t notice the bad habits or the unpleasant things we’re doing because in a way they have become second nature to us. A vicious cycle can also consist of unhealthy repeated behavior between you and another person. For example, you may not get along with your sibling and every time you try to talk about anything, you both wind up arguing about something and you both wind up in a bad mood. It’s a vicious cycle if it’s happened numerous times even when you try to avoid it. You just feel stuck in it and you think you can’t break free.

What Can This Cycle Do You

This cycle can take a toll on you physically and mentally. Mentally, it can lower your confidence, affect your self-esteem, and your self-worth. You may believe that you will never get out of it no matter how hard you try or how much help you get. It could get so bad that you believe that you deserve this unhealthy way of life because it’s happening you so many times. An unhealthy way of thinking can lead to tough problems even down the road.

Physically, a vicious cycle can be draining to where you don’t have the energy to do anything. You may have heard the fight-or-flight response. When under stress, your body goes into this mode. The fight-or-flight response is the help us with survival situations. These situations are avoiding a dangerous animal or person, making sure we’re safe during a dangerous storm, making sure we stay focused when were traversing through rough terrain. As time has going on, the fight-or-flight response has gone into overdrive. Our body recognizes that we’re in a unhealthy, unsafe, or unpleasant situation so it’s putting out energy (cortisol and adrenaline) to help us get through it. These days situations like being stuck in traffic or waiting in a long line, arguing with someone are triggering the fight-or-flight response. These situations are draining our energy making it tough to do anything. With our energy being low or depleted, it makes it harder for us to deal and cope with anxiety, tough situations, or do the things we enjoy doing.

Break the Cycle

If your stuck in a vicious, or stale cycle, here are some ways to get out of it:

1. Try doing something brand new

2. Relinquish control

3. Challenge your thoughts and the situation

4. Look for repeated behaviors you do that are good

5. Open up to others


Doing something entirely new is a great way to disrupt the cycle. Skydiving, traveling to a new country, learning how to scuba dive, learning a new language, are just a few ways to change things up in your life. Engaging in something new means you have no prior knowledge or experience. So the unhealthy, unwanted, and repeated behaviors have nothing to attach to. You can use this as an opportunity to start a healthy, fun, and proactive cycle.

If you’re in a vicious cycle where you’re trying to control something that you can’t, but you keep trying and keep failing, it’s best to just give up on that. Repeated attempts that have ended with the same result over and over and it’s affecting your health in a negative way, indicates that you should just stop it. There are things in this world that we can’t control like peoples behavior. Giving up on that control means that you are stopping the cycle.

The vicious cycle may be going on in your mind. Your mindset may be stuck in an unhealthy way of thinking. You may be dealing with unwanted stress, believing in lies about yourself, or thinking you’re a failure and will never succeed at anything. In reality, a situation is just a situation. It becomes a stressful situation when we attribute stress or anxiety to it. To break free, breakdown your thought process and the situation by challenging it and seeing what is real and what is not. From my own experience, I have found that I set unrealistic expectations for myself, so I changed the way I thought about some things. I picked apart my thought process and eliminated unrealistic and unhealthy thoughts about life, people, and myself.

One way to break a vicious cycle is integrate good behaviors into a new cycle. For example, if you watch something on TV that excites you, you can use that high morale to exercise. After exercising, you may have more confidence to do things that you may have been hesitant to do before. You acquire a new life experience or you learn something new which you can share with a family member or friends. You share this experience or information and your back talking about that TV show that excited you. As you can see one good thing led to another and another. You can turn the vicious cycle into a proactive, happy, and fun one.

Sometimes opening it up and talking things out can break the cycle. A cycle that consists of arguing back and forth with no resolve could be stopped by talking calmly instead of yelling and listening to the other person instead of interrupting them. Both of you coming up with solutions and trying to figure out what can work instead of it being one-sided.

Final Thoughts and Sum Up

A vicious cycle can be harmful to you. Remember if you’re stuck in one, you can get out of it. Don’t think that you’re the only one who is dealing with it. All it takes is one action to break the cycle. Don’t let yourself be a prisoner of your own mind. Ask for help to get out of it. If you’re stuck in a vicious cycle that includes another person or group of people, it may be best to forget about the other person or people all together. You decide how you want to live. If you don’t like being stuck in a stale or vicious cycle, you have the power to free yourself from it. It’s ok if you have to ask for help.

Habits: The Good and the Not so Good

In my last post, I talked about how having a routine can be good for you and how it isn’t good for you. I also mentioned that rituals are more meaningful and provide significant benefits to your life. When you develop a routine, you have habits that are driving you to make one. The habits can be good ones, but they can also be bad ones.

Habits are behaviors that we repeatedly do in our lives. They can be so ingrained in what we do that we don’t always notice that we do them. They can work on a subconscious level which can be another way of saying that they are second nature to us. As we grow up, we learn to do things with help from our parents, teachers, friends, even strangers directly and indirectly. We also learn things by doing them on our own. As time goes on, we continue to repeat these behaviors and then they become habits.

From an early age, we are taught things that will help us to develop good habits. Throughout your life, there will be people who are likely to influence you to do the right thing and make good choices. Good habits can be very helpful and enriching to our lives. On tough days, they give us the extra push we need to get something done. Good habits help us to stay healthy both in our mind, body, and soul. Good habits can include being nice to our parents, siblings, friends, teachers, eating healthy, exercising, helping others, getting a good sleep, reading, etc.

As we grow up, people can have a bad influence on us. Like routines, you unfortunately can develop bad habits. You can develop bad habits from being around the wrong people who give you bad advice and are a bad influence. You may see people doing something they shouldn’t, like breaking into someones car, but they talk you into doing it with them. Then your hanging out with them and doing other things you shouldn’t. You may have developed a bad habit of biting your fingernails because you saw others doing it, you taught yourself to do it, or it’s how you deal with anxiety. Chewing on your pen, pencil, lying to people, or picking your nose are a few examples. If you have developed a bad habit that is harming you and or other people, then I would look into eliminating that because as time goes on, things can get worse.

If you have developed good habits that benefit your life and your happy, stick with them. They will enrich and bless your life in different ways right now and as you get older. If you have some bad habits let me tell you it’s not the end of the world. Habits can be changed and eliminated, they are not set in stone. Your not the only person in this world who has bad habits and the bad habits you do have, a lot of other people have them as well.

If you have any bad habits that you are looking to stop, here are some tips to help you out:

1. Remind Yourself Why You Want To Stop It

Having a bad habit can be hard to quit especially if you have been doing it for an extended period of time. You are likely to encounter days when it’s tougher than others and you may fall off the wagon and relapse back into your old ways. During those tough times, remind yourself why you wanted to stop this bad habit in the first place. Are you quitting it to improve your health, boost your self-esteem, improve a friendship/relationship, or eliminates stress? Whatever the reason or reasons for quitting the bad habit you have, remember them, they will help you get through those tough days. Remind yourself how much better your life will be without that bad habit or habits.

2. Be Patient With Yourself

Some bad habits can be easy to quit by going cold turkey, however not all of them are. As I mentioned, bad habits that have been apart of your life for a long time, may not be able to go cold turkey on. Sometimes they may take time to quit completely. You can’t rush the process. Remember these bad habits have become a part of your routine and your life. There will be an adjustment phase that you will go through where you may feel uncomfortable and that’s fine. Change can be good, but it can also be uncomfortable. If you try to rush the process, there is a chance where the temptation to fall back into your old ways may get the better of you because you aren’t used to that bad habit being out of your life. Those tough days will challenge you, but overall be patient with yourself. Don’t get discouraged and give up.

3. Replace a Bad Habit With a Good One

Another incentive you can use is substitution. Get rid of bad habit and replace it with a good one. Removing a bad habit can sometimes leave an emptiness in your life and you may feel weird about it and want to fill it up. For example, say you quit smoking, a replacement for that can be mediation. Bring something new into your life and say goodbye to the bad one.

4. Get a Support System

Getting rid of a bad habit can be tough by yourself. As I mentioned in a previous post, a support system can help you with various things. Have someone you trust hold you accountable for your actions. If you begin to relapse, your support system can help you get back on track. You can also be a support system for that other person as well. Team up with someone and you both hold each other accountable while you get rid of your bad habits.

5. Celebrate the Small Achievements

Kicking a bad habit as I said can be a process and can take time, don’t wait till the journey is over to celebrate. During this journey as you wean yourself off this bad habit or habits, you will have opportunities to celebrate the small wins. If you bite your fingernails 7 times a day and you manage to cut yourself down to 6 times a day, celebrate that. These small achievements will provide the energy to keep you motivated on eliminating bad habits.

Now if you want to create good habits because you want to make your life better or need good ones to replace the bad ones, here are some ways that can help you:

1. Start Small and be Realistic

It’s great that you want to make a change in your life, but start with something small that won’t take long to accomplish. You may feel tempted to make a big change, but don’t bite off more than you can chew and relapse or get discouraged.

2. Have a Clear Intention

Creating a good habit is great if your intention is clear. For example, if you want to cut junk food out of your life and exercise more, ask yourself what kind of exercises do you want to do? How many of them do want to do per session? How many days a week do you plan on exercising? Having answers to questions like these can help you to not bite off more than you chew and be realistic in the change you want to make in your life.

3. Invest in Your Habit

We you develop a good habit, stick with it and get excited about it. Put your energy and focus into it. It can prevent you from developing bad habits and going back to old ones. If it’s enriching your life and not harming yourself and others, then your good.

We develop good habits in our life that make our lives great. Yes we develop bad habits as well, there is no avoiding it, but that’s ok because were human and humans are not perfect. The environment we grow up in and spend our time in has an influence on what habits we develop. We just have to make smart choices and recognize what and who in our lives is helping us thrive and live and who and what is hindering our growth.