Saturday, 10 October 2015

"Vicious Circle" vs "Upward Spiral" !!

Dear Readers,

We have been hearing this term "vicious circle", time and again. Mostly associated with people who are doing same things over and over and getting the same results again and again. 

So what exactly is this vicious circle, well if you remember my last post on "will power" and "habits", you are aware of the fact that, your habits determine what you repeatedly do, and what you repeatedly do reflects in your results. So if you have bad habits, you will produce bad results, and if you have good habits you will produce good results. 

Vicious Circle is the circuitous path where you have bad habits producing bad results which reinforce bad image of the self.

Vicious Circle

And getting trapped in this vicious circle has deep psychological effects on a person. 

"Just imagine a person trapped in the vicious circle, sets out on a new project, it might be anything from a professional undertaking or an attempt to improve grades for a student or someone trying to better their relationship with their partner. He begins enthusiastically, gets a few steps in, but then the habits set in, and makes it more and more difficult for the person to stay on course, remember we know that will power is like a muscle and it will get exhausted by repeated use or abuse. So what happens, the person snaps back to his original behavior, his old habits and hence his old results.
And who can stop this person, now, from thinking that he is a failure, and can't take anything to completion, and hence do not deserve the best that life has to offer, aka having a bad self image."

So once again we come back to the topic of habits, and how they can help us get on the "upward spiral" from a "vicious circle".

Well imagine the same person, lets take an example of a student, she is trying to improve her grades but not able to do it, this in turn reinforces in her mind that she is not a good student, which further pushes her into bad habits (which in most cases is a defense mechanism, against not being understood), a classic case of "vicious circle". So what can she do to get better grades and change her situation, well lets dive in,
  1. First and foremost she needs to reinforce in her mind that, she has failed a test, one of the many she will face in her lifetime, and this failing of test does not make her a failure. Try to grasp the difference, "failing a test" can be improved upon but "being a failure" is a very difficult thought to cure. To do this she can start writing positive statements about her as a daily exercise to improve her self image. Some examples may be,
    • "I am a sincere student, and do my studies regularly."
    • "I seek help from my teachers whenever I face a problem with my studies, and they guide me well."
    • " I judge myself on the preparation I put in and not the final results of the exam." and many more....
  2. Once she has developed a habit of writing positive statements, next she needs to set a goal to move towards, suppose it is to score well in this years exams. Then find out how much time she has on her hands, remember this is not a quick fix, so if your next exam is too close this might not help you in it, but surely for your next exam. 
  3. Once a timeline has been set (time till your next exam), divide the time available into 3 to 4 equal stages (say one part of 2-4 weeks each, for an exam which is 2-4 months out), and decide the daily time you are going to dedicate to your studies, now don't run in front of yourself here. If you want to see yourself studying for 2-4 hours a day, outside of school, star with 30 mins a day in your first stage, and hour in your next. If you see yourself dropping out of this schedule, peg it back to 30 mins again, till you are comfortable with it. (Remember will power will take you only so far, but habits will take you all the way, and it takes time to develop good habits.) Slowly ramp it up to your final goal, use steps from last post.
  4. Now you don't need to be Einstein to figure out what 2-4 hours a day would do to your results, but don't forget the most important step, celebrate your successes. And you can do that by simply writing down the good  things you did today, according to your plan, like studying for 30 mins in first stage of the plan, in the above example. Write it down, it helps reinforce the good habits you are trying to develop.
  5. Last but not the least get someone to hold you accountable for your plan, at least in the beginning, don't involve a figure of authority like one of your parents here, they can get judgmental, it is best if you partner with one of your siblings or better yet a friend, where you become accountability partner for each other.
And voila, you are on your upward spiral, where you develop good habits, set a goal, take measured actions, celebrate your successes to reinforce the good habits.

Upward/Virtuous Spiral

An exact opposite to the vicious circle.

And the good thing is you are in control of the whole process, by varying the size of your steps (smaller or bigger as per your comfort) you are going to take to reach your goal, you can keep it manageable and avoid dropping out of the plan.

This method can be applied to any endeavor of your life, you can get in touch with me if you want to discuss any specific area.

So I say, you get on with your first project, and see the results for yourself, best of luck!!