Are You In A Whirlpool Of Negative Events? What Your Brain Needs To Break That Spiral

how to pull out of a downward spiral | Show Up Strong

You’ve heard of being “in a zone,” and it’s usually attributed to doing everything righton a roll, lucky streak…. but did you know your brain can be “in a negative zone“? Most people call it a losing streak, bad luck, lazy, blowing it, depression, pity party, or throwing it all away…. However, what might be happening is a trick the mind plays.

Things in your life and business are going along smoothly; you’re kicking butt; you feel like you can do anything. Suddenly, you’re blindsided, like getting hit across the head with a 2 x 4.

Perhaps you made some decisions that didn’t work out,  maybe you weren’t paying attention or through absolutely no fault of your own, the momentum of being on a roll, abruptly stops.

Like a tsunami, a number of negative emotions slam into you and just keep coming. You become highly stressed, out of control of your world and may even feel helpless, with no safety insight. The more people shove “think positive” down your throat and stabbing you in the heart with “this too shall pass”, the worse you feel.

Those events can feel like someone took your winning lottery ticket and tore it up right in front of your face. This can start a mental trend,  sending your brain into the “Negative Vortex.”

Our brain is most comfortable with patterns and repetition. This makes it easier to function, using less energy and resources. The connections to thoughts, feelings, and chemistry strengthen as they’re used. The more they’re used, the stronger they get. A person’s mental momentum goes in the direction of whatever the current and most recent momentum happens to be.

Our memories of events have extinction levels, so the brain and chemistry remember the most emotionally charged events and recent “win or lose” events. Since our brain hates to lose more than it likes to win; losses, mistakes, bad decisions, bad performance, helpless feelings, etc. stay in the forefront of our memories. The connection to negativity and insecurity gain momentum.

Typically, there’s a domino effect; one stressful situation tips another, then another…. now, your brain has a recent history of feeling emotional, fragile, not in control, insecure, as it might cause another domino to fall. Self-confidence fades and fear sets in.

These scenarios are especially trying and damaging for those without a support system or anyone to throw out a life-preserver. You know the saying, “you find out who your friends are when you’re going through tough times”? It’s true, and that can add even more dominos down. It can be a free-falling death spiral and hard to pull out of.

Here’s how to break that state of the “negative zone.”  List as many of the following as possible until you start to feel that mental state shift.

  • Times you’ve pulled out of a death spiral in the past
  • Strategies you’ve successfully used to turn things around
  • Wins in your life
  • Your strong qualities (strengths)
  • Times you’ve done something adventurous and brave
  • Times someone has looked up to you
  • The resources you have to assist with the situation
  • Times you’ve helped other people succeed or pull out of their free-falling death spiral

That last one can be a triple edged sword, so be mindful of the positive direction we’re going for and be honest with that one.

What this does is assist your brain at breaking the state it’s been in and to start the momentum flowing to your strengths, opportunities, resources, problem-solving abilities, self-esteem, and most of all hope.

The only thing stronger than fear is hope. Allow hope, sparingly! Make sure hope is real and not someone selling you a ‘hope lifesaver’ that turns out to be made of cement.

The above techniques are an accumulation of results from many different studies as well as techniques I’ve developed myself and have proven highly valuable and accurate.


[Does that negative zone happen to everyone? No, it doesn’t. There are certain types of personalities who step up their brains biases to compensate, rationalize, and dramatically exploit the situation to add to their bag of social manipulation tricks. You can see examples of this in The Hidden Roles summary]

Tamara Lee Taylor