One of my favorite movies growing up was Groundhog day 1993.
Bill Murray played the character of Phil Connors
weather reporter assigned to cover the events surrounding groundhog’s day.
Phil Connors is considered by many an a$# hole
AND gets stuck in a time loop.
A time loop
a plot device whereby characters re-experience a span of time which is repeated
over and over
and over and over
with some hope of breaking out of the vicious cycle when a condition is met
in the case of Phil Connors, when he decides to change himself ( i.e. stop being an a%*hole)
and help others.
Although impossible according to Einstein’s theory of relativity
I believe time loops do exist
if only in our minds.
Ever experience so much anxiety or stress that you feel paralyzed?
That’s being in a time loop.
Time loops can be considered thought loops which burn energy and get in the way of progress.
They’re one way as humans we get stuck. How do we get unstuck?
The consequence of being in a thought loop causes just as much suffering for you as being in a time loop must have been for poor Phil ( the man committed suicide several times over- remember it’s a dark comedy).
Thought loops that create anxiety or overwhelm are the number one productivity killer.
You see, our bodies don’t like how anxiety feels
And so we avoid the thing that we think is causing our anxiety.
Ever have to have a difficult conversation that you are anxious about? What do you do? Put it off right? Why? Because you feel anxious.
Getting the kids ready for bed stressing you out? You may drag your feet and decompress with mindless snacking or scrolling on Facebook.
When you are anxious and stressed, you don’t think rationally and are less likely to find creative ways to problem solve.
So are you feeling anxious about work? About your charts?
You are likely less efficient when getting those things done.
You are less productive when you are feeling anxious, stress or overwhelm!
Phil through repetition of living through the time loops, acquires knowledge using retained memories to progress and eventually exit the loop.
Essentially, the time loop becomes the problem solving process, the narrative becomes akin to an interactive puzzle.
And just like the movie, the solution to getting unstuck is the problem.
We think it is the charts, or the kids, or work that is causing our anxiety
but it is really our thoughts about the charts, work or kids causing our anxiety.
Here are some thoughts that cause me stress and anxiety: “I don’t have time” or “I don’t know how to do this” or “I’m going to look like an idiot” or I’ll probably screw this up” or “ this person is difficult”.
We break out of the cycle and get unstuck by creating new thoughts.
Your brain loves to solve problems, it was designed for this very task of getting you out of a thought loop.
Think of this experience like trying to solve a puzzle.
How to get unstuck
First you identify the thought that is causing your anxiety.
When you think that thought, check in with yourself and make sure you feel anxious. If you do, you have a match.
If you don’t, keep exploring until you find a match.
Then, once you have a match, you want to choose to think a different thought on purpose.
That new thought has to be believable.
Some examples of new thoughts are: “ I have plenty of time for what’s important” Or “ I know how to do this” Or “ I’m doing the best that I can”.
Developing purposeful thoughts can take time, be patient, be curious.