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  • Writer's pictureRachael Yahne

When It Feels Like You're Stuck In A Cycle

The same patterns. The same dysfunctional relationship. The job you want to get out of. It sometimes feels like you are stuck in the same cycle, again and again, but you are always growing...

Woman in flowers
photo by Ashley Jo, Raw Photo & Film

“I’m just frustrated that I feel like I’m back in the same cycle again,”

she said over her voice note. For the past countless months, my dear friend B and I have sent each other a voice memo every weekday morning. We start with two minutes of gratitudes, which sometimes requires that we implore the tactic of Melody Beattie, the pioneer of codependent work, who instructs to list out all the things you hate, are frustrated by, or wish would go away as if you are grateful for them. We follow up that gratitude list with daily desires, what we hope happens in the day or next few days as if it’s already happened. And we finish with future desires; what we want in the next few years, spoken as if it’s already ours. It takes dedication to find things to be grateful for, or say that you are grateful for them when really you resent them, when everything about your morning routine goes wrong. It takes bravery to admit what you want out of the day. It takes great courage to admit what you want out of your entire life ahead, and I often shy and shrink at this prompt, feeling unworthy of the big, beautiful life I hope to build in my career as a writer and within my family with my beloved.

Stuck In A Cycle…

But as she said these words: I’m frustrated to be in what feels like a place I’ve already been, living out the same pattern yet again, (in this case, returning to a job she didn’t want and thought she had outgrown), I was staring at the number 8 on a license plate. Marveling at it’s perfect balance, and how it endlessly, infinitely cycles back onto itself. There is no end. It is a never-ending pattern. Before B’s sentence finished, I looked to my right to see vibrant orange-red flowers shooting up from a doorstep flowerbed, reaching for the sky and just beginning to open to the sun and show their brilliance.

It occurred to me that these flowers grow here every single year. The same garden, the same varietal. Only to die off in winter, and start the same old cycle all over again. But it’s never truly the same, is it? Each spring they grow in a slightly different direction; the petals are ever so slightly a different shade and shape. They repeat the same pattern every year as is their natural duty, without complaint or fear that they have not evolved enough.

…But Always Growing, If Slowly

We humans are arguably the only species that pressures ourselves into constant change and evolution. We are the only beings on earth that expect ourselves to constantly be moving forward, never repeating the same patterns, and punish our damn ourselves if we don’t. But even in the seasons that feel cyclical and familiar, in the habits and relationships, jobs and even mistakes that feel familiar, we are changing. If only an inch to the left in our growth, if only by one extra petal, if only by the awareness of the pattern existing, we are changing little by little, even when we don’t know or see it. 

Be kind to yourself in your patterns. Honor the space when you might experience the same lesson twice without berating yourself.  And if you need to, go outside and thank the flowers for their willingness to grow and die, grow and die, again and again, without complaint or self criticism, so that we can enjoy them season after season.

Journal Prompts

Choose one area of your life: work, relationships, health, any area of your choice.

- What patterns or cycles are making you feel stuck?

- In what ways, no matter how small, have you changed or evolved in this pattern?

- What have you learned that will help you continue to grow and change?

- What resources can you bring in (books, mentors, community, education) to help your next stage of growth in this cycle?


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