It’s the Spiral Of Life — Not The Circle

One step forward, two steps back. Isn’t that what life feels like too often?  I make a little progress — and then life pulls me right back. I think I’m doing well, then bam! I make a mistake that undermines my progress — or worse, my confidence.

It’s easy to think mistakes are not allowed. That learning is for the other guy, and for me, perfection and steady growth is the only outcome to prove my value and effectiveness.

Rather than just learning from mistakes and moving on, too many of us get stuck in our heads. We place judgement on the ebb and flow because we think all ebbing is backtracking. Here’s the thing: it’s not. Sometimes that ebbing is the pulling back of the arrow against the bow. It’s looks like backwards motion and feels like tension, but in fact, it’s just building power. And that tension? Well, that’s the magical force that allows the arrow to fly to new heights and distances.

Instead of seeing life as a circle where you are constantly circling back to where you began, see life as an upward 3D spiral.

If you look down on it, yes, it looks like a two-dimensional circle. But from another perspective, you may be going ‘round and ‘round, but you’re climbing higher and higher as you doWhile you may circle back again, feeling like you’ve taken one step back, you haven’t; you’re not in the same place. You’ve learned something, seen something, grokked something you hadn’t before. You’re now looking at that place from a slightly heightened position.

If we can be conscious of this perspective, those moments of frustration won’t affect us in the same way and we have a better chance of letting them go. Life, like the stock market, has constant ups and downs, and it’s important that we look long term to see overall growth, otherwise the nuanced changes will drive us insane.

Circles, arrows, spirals and the stock market, have I mixed enough metaphors yet?  Hopefully one of them will resonate with you, so next time you feel like you’re running in circles, you will remember, even if it doesn’t feel like it, you absolutely are making progress.