Last week, I was locked out of the account I use for my online classes. At first, I thought it was a problem with the school’s server, so I gave up after a few tries. The next day I tried again but was rebuffed by the technology once more. The site asked me to reset my password and when I attempted to do so, it said I couldn’t do so without administration approval. I was caught in a technology loop that I couldn’t escape.
I realized that I hadn’t paid my invoice and wondered if that was the reason. I called and paid my bill and then asked the woman on the phone if the school was experiencing server problems. She wasn’t aware of any but said she would send a message to the program director. Over the next two days, the program director and I emailed and then she called to walk me through a series of steps to fix it. That didn’t work, so she told me to email the IT department. When I didn’t hear back from them, I emailed the program director again and she noticed that I’d emailed the wrong address using .com instead of .edu. I couldn’t seem to catch a break. Finally, late on Friday – day four of this process – the IT department reset my password, and I was able to get back into my account to do my work on Saturday.
I was so exhausted by the whole process. I found myself frustrated because I was unable to watch the lecture videos and do what I needed to do. Instead, I ran in circles for a week. Thankfully, the problem was easily solved once I reached the people who knew how to fix it. Unfortunately, many of life’s problems are not so easily solved. Sometimes, I feel as though I’m caught in a loop in my head. I fret and stew about an issue that’s bothering me. I spiral down the rabbit hole of anxiety. I can get caught in a mental maze so that I can’t find my way out. And I can’t turn my attention to things that need to be done because so much of my energy is drained by my incessant worrying.
So how in the world do we stop the worry loop or at least loosen its grip on us? While no solution works every time, I find that when I talk about my concerns, I start to feel better. Recently, I’ve been procrastinating. I needed to make a phone call but had been avoiding it. I just couldn’t make myself do it even though I knew I would feel better once I called. Then this week, I talked to my best friends at lunch and my therapist as well, and they reminded me that underneath my procrastination was legitimate concern and fear. That it was reasonable for me to hesitate. That my avoidance was not laziness. Finally, I was able to get out of my head and make the call. But if I hadn’t talked it out with others, I would probably still be spinning around the same thought pattern.
When we find ourselves running on the same thought track over and over, we can help ourselves by discussing our concerns with people we trust. They may not be able to fix our problems, but they may help us break out of our repetitious thinking and allow us to take action instead. Sometimes, being out of the loop is exactly where we want to be.