STEPPING OUT OF VICIOUS CIRCLES is a “tool” that helps you examine your thoughts, expectations, feelings, actions, intentions and goals so that you can choose a new pattern of behavior that frees you to a happier life. 

It is a “tool” that has helped me get out of vicious circles of my own  that I developed in response to the book, Straight Talk: A new way to get closer to others by saying what you really mean by Drs. Sherod Miller, Daniel Wackman, Elam Nunnally and Carol Saline. 

First Draw the “Tool”

Instead of me drawing the “tool” for you, I want you to draw it so that you will be able to remember it and always be able to use it.  (You can see my illustration, “Stepping Out of Vicious Circles,” in the Appendix of my 1917 book At Eden’s Gate: Whole Health and Well-Being which is available at
    Take a piece of paper the size of a sheet of typing paper.  At the top of the paper write the words, “Stepping Out of Vicious Circles.”  Under that heading, briefly describe the situation you would like to change.  Then draw a big circle.  Divide it into eight (8) sections, like pieces of pie, with all the lines going through the center.  
    Label the sections from the top moving clockwise.
Section 1 “Thoughts”
Section 2 “Expectations”
Section 3 “Feelings”
Section 4 “What I did or do”
Section 5 “My intentions were/are…”
Section 6 “My goals for myself are…”
Section 7 “My goals for the others are…”
Section 8 “What I will do differently is…”  

An example of using the tool 

Now, let’s take what could be a nasty situation and use the “tool” so you can see how to use it to your advantage.
    The situation  “When I let the dog out he doesn’t come back as soon as I want him to.”
    Thoughts (What I think.) “He acts like he needs to ‘go’ and I don’t want the mess in the house.  I must put him out now!”
    Expectations  (What I think will happen.)  “The dog knows where he lives and will come back, unless the dog-catcher chases him or another dog is nearby.”
    Feelings  (Emotions are sometimes, but not always, connected to actual physical sensations, such as tears and sobs when crying and feeling sad.)  I feel glad I noticed the dog needs to go out.  I feel guilty about him running loose and doing his “job” on neighbors’ lawns.
    What I do/did  I let him out by himself.  I didn’t put him on a chain or leash.  I didn’t go out with him.
    My intention is/was  I wanted to take care of it the easiest way I could.
    My goal for myself is  I want to be a responsible pet owner.  I don’t want to do anything that I feel guilty about, or ashamed of, or hurt my daughter who owns the dog and raised him from puppyhood.  Another goal is to get more exercise and fresh air myself.  Perhaps I can combine my goals for myself and for the dog.
    My goal for others is  I want the dog to be safe from the dog-catcher and from traffic accidents.  My goal for my daughter is to please her and not to hurt her by neglecting her pet.  I want good relationships with my neighbors.
    What I will do differently is…

These ideas must be realistically something you can do and that you are willing to do differently.  List as many possibilities as you can at one time.  Then, taking more time if you need to later, add ideas, revise and delete, until you have something that you really want to do.
    If you do not want to change the situation, you can decide to accept it in the first place and save yourself the trouble of going through all these steps.      

Be aware, if you decide not to do anything, you run the risk of feeling guilty for not trying something different if the situation turns out badly.  So think carefully through the “worst possible outcome of the situation” before deciding to do nothing.

Worst possible outcome: Dog is injured or killed by car.  He is old, deaf, and has poor eyesight.  Chances are high that he would not see or hear a car and the driver could not stop in time if the dog was in the street.
    Dog is picked up by the dog-catcher.  Fine, $100, and a lot of embarrassment.
    Neighbors get mad and dump the dog-poop on our doorstep.

What I am willing to do differently is  I could get a chain and put the dog on it.  Problem, he doesn’t always ‘go’ while on a chain, sometimes he waits until he gets back in the house.  (Scratch this idea.)
    Feed him early enough that I can take him for a walk before I leave the house.  Get up 30 minutes earlier or leave later.  (I can’t leave later without being late, scratch this option.)
    On the other hand, I enjoy the smell of the early morning air and might enjoy a short, brisk walk in the mornings if I get up earlier.
    I could try a week of setting the alarm 30 minutes earlier, feeding the dog immediately and taking him for a walk before I dress for work.  I don’t really like the alarm clock, so I’ll take the dog for a walk if my “internal alarm” wakes me up in time to do it.
    If this doesn’t improve the situation, I can start feeding the dog only at supper time and take him for a walk after supper.
    I could take a plastic bag along so I can pick up the “poop” in case he “goes” in the wrong places.
    I could work out a schedule with my husband so that we take turns or go together at times.  But my husband doesn’t like “schedules” for things like this; so, when I see him getting ready to take the dog out, I’ll say, “I’m coming, too.”
    Now, the next time I start to let the dog out, I believe I’ll think twice and either put him on the chain or take him for a short run or both.                       End of Example

 You see my ambivalence about how to cope with this problem.  However, I have sorted out some options that are more acceptable than my original situation and original behaviors.  The new options of thoughts and behaviors will help me change the situation to a more acceptable one.  If I truly stop and think before letting the dog out, I will neither feel guilty nor need to be angry about whatever happens.

    (Some say ) “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful.
    “All things are lawful for me,”  but I will not be enslaved by anything.
    But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.                                      I Corinthians 6:12.13 and 17

Stepping out of vicious circles by thinking through your thoughts, expectations, feelings, actions, intentions and goals so that you can choose a new pattern of behavior will free you to more creative living and loving!

Here’s to Your Health!




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