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Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Going around in circles

If you're using the saying "going around in circles" to describe a situation in your life, here's a few suggestions of how to stop going around in circles. 

We're not going to try logic, because the chances are you've already tried that, and failed. 

Instead we're going to use the metaphor contained within your language to find the solution. For more on why I use metaphors to facilitate change in mine, and clients lives read this blog.

If you're using the saying "going around in circles" it's very likely that you have an internal representation for that saying. It might be a vision of the circle, a sense of the circle, or the circle may have or make a sound. 

Bring that picture, sound, movement or feeling to mind. 

You might not have realised you had an image until I asked the question, but your mind likes to make sense of the language you're using, and will have made sense of it most likely in the form of a picture, movie, movement or sound.

Here's one client's visual when they tried doing this. 

The big black blob you can see was them drawing around, and around, and around - very quickly. 

Try it for yourself - what happens when you draw the circle you're going around in -  do you need a particular pen to draw it with, how big a piece of paper, how quickly or slowly are you drawing the circle, what length of time will you draw for, and so on - just notice what you notice.


What changes do you need to make to the drawing to stop going around in circles? 

For this client it was drawing much more slowly. This allowed the spiral to develop, as shown, and eventually a way out was observed. 

For another client they knew what direction (A) they wanted to go in, instead of the circle they were currently going around in. They therefore took their pen, and drew a line from the original circle towards this destination A, and noticed what they noticed. They ended up drawing a figure of eight oscillating between A, and the original circle. Something they could relate to, having said "not here again" a few times over the years.

The question I asked them was "what has to happen to stop going around in circles". The answer surprised us both - "go to destination B".

They then tried drawing around the original circle, followed by drawing a line to B. They were "happy as Larry", and drew a flower shape with B at it's centre, and never went near the original circle. 

On a recent workshop we had one of the delegates drawing his circles on the flipchart as we all made suggestions of changes he could make. 

What about changing direction, circling slower, or quicker, drawing a line .... all resulted in more circles. 

Until I asked him to go around in square, and then something magical happened. 


Unlike the circles the squares were distinct and yet connected - each building upon the last square and moving in a particular direction as if each a build block to achieve an outcome or to take him to a new destination.

In none of these instances did we need to understand what this exploration meant or where A or B was. The situation just felt better, and they were more satisfied. We then continued the coaching sessions developing action plans for resolving the situations we'd been talking about. Which demonstrated something had shifted, even if we didn't know, or need to know, what.

You may not find drawing helpful - if sound is more your thing - what sound does 'going around in circles' have, and how do you change the sound to get to your end destination. Who knows - a song may come to mind, and take you on the journey you need to go on, metaphorically at least, to release what's holding you back, and get you back on track.

I've had other clients who need to 'dance' or 'walk' the circle. They walk towards their destination, and then notice what they notice about how to stay at their destination, and not migrate back to their circle.

I know it sounds weird, but it's one way our mind is able to make sense of a situation. Doing so without all the content of day to day life, and judgements and musts, oughts and shoulds getting in the way. Thus we're able to bypass the resistance and barriers to making changes, and therefore to find a solution!

Do let me know how you get on.

Alison Smith
Landscaping Your Life and the Purchasing coach 
Using nature to inspire change inside and out 

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