One way to break free of that spin cycle is to use your "inner observer." Your inner observer gives you an objective snapshot of the situation. It doesn't get caught up in emotions or self-talk. It just takes a big-picture view and asks: "What's really going on here?"
To use your inner observer, pretend you're describing someone else's situation (while examining your own). Write down what you see. What is happening? What are the factors at play? How is this person getting in their own way? What went wrong? What could they do differently?
Detaching yourself from the situation makes it easier to get to the root of problems and identify opportunities for change and improvement. With practice, it will start to kick in automatically.
I've been working hard at developing my own inner observer over the past few years. It's far from 100 percent automatic, but I notice a real difference when it does kick in. It typically starts with, "Huh. Isn't that interesting. I wonder what's going on here. I wonder what's behind that reaction. Is that really accurate?"
I'm not always able to extricate myself from being up to my eyeballs in whatever the situation is, but at least it gives me more information to work with once I'm not in the heat of it.
How about you? What helps you get out of that negative spin cycle?
After years as a professional malcontent, Curt Rosengren discovered the power of passion. As a speaker, author, and coach, Rosengren helps people create careers that energize and inspire them. His book 101 Ways to Get Wild About Work and his E-book The Occupational Adventure Guide offer people tools for turning dreams into reality. Rosengren's blog, The M.A.P. Maker, explores how to craft a life of meaning, abundance, and passion.