"There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
~ Anais Nin

When I was a professional dancer, I noticed that I would often find myself at the bottom of a familiar hole, kept company by voices that sang to the tune of, "you're not good enough, you're too fat, you're not good enough, you don't deserve it, you don't try hard enough, you're not good enough, you're not good enough."

It should come as no surprise that I found it very hard to resist these voices. And once I started listening to them, they lead me down and down to a dark place of despair.

After several trillion times of finding myself at the bottom of that hole, I started to wonder why I kept letting myself get dragged down that ever persistent downward spiral.

But more importantly. I also started to notice that I actually wanted to go down there, that like to admit it or not, there was something familiar, safe, and sure about giving in to the downward spiral. It was darkly seductive and strangely gratifying, albeit in a completely unproductive and unhealthy way.


A client of mine recently told me about a recurring fantasy she has about a movie star in which he reveals himself to be all the things she has always wanted in a partner, and never gotten. Her fantasies are elaborate, intricate, lengthy, and darkly addictive. Whenever something triggers her to feel badly about herself, she seeks refuge in her fantasy. Even though it is ultimately isolating, unproductive and unhealthy, in the downward spiral of her fantasy, she has a place she can go that is safe and familiar.

This is how it is with these things I call downward spirals – familiar patterns of negative self-talk or a particular fantasy you replay over and over in which you get saved, get respect, get happiness, get even, get safe. The pattern of self-talk or fantasy comes to feel like reality because of how many times you go down there. It is real because you make it real.

You've repeated the downward spiral so many times, it becomes like a familiar, worn sweater, comfy and known territory. Above all, the mind likes known territory and is frightened by new, unknown territory. So frightened by the unknown it would rather go down a downward spiral than try something new.

Good to know.

There is an opportunity here.

The universe has so much to offer you, but you block it by indulging constantly in your downward spiral. If you indulge in the self-talk, there is little room for your brilliance to have air, light and food to blossom. If you indulge in the fantasy, there is little room for anything in real life to every measure up and be truly fulfilling.

The opportunity here is to see a downward spiral for what it is, not a trusted, familiar friend, but just a familiar trip down the toilet.

The opportunity is to head it off at the pass. The next time you notice the trigger, the thing that starts you down the spiral, say, "Thanks for sharing, but not now."

Stop. Don't indulge. Take a breath. Move on.

What is the antidote to a downward spiral? It is A Strict Diet of Approval.

Go to A Strict Diet of Approval
Back to Relationship With Yourself

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