It's difficult to discern whether we are in a vicious cycle or not. There's no dashboard we can check to watch for indicators. It's not the sort of query we can Google to get the right answer. There's no app for any held-held that will show you when you're in a vicious cycle or a virtuous one. Here's some ways to watch yourself and observe patterns in your interactions that give clues to this question:
- When we're wondering if we are in a vicious cycle, we're definitely not there. Only virtuous cycles run on questions, curiosity, wonder and not-knowing. Vicious cycles depend on already knowing what would happen, having our minds made up and thinking "here we go again".
- When we're wondering how to interpret what just occurred and then respond appropriately, we're enjoying a virtuous cycle. When we take the face-value evidence as reason enough to show them a thing or two, we've opted for reacting to others' reactions to our reactions.
- When we're dealing with a complex situation by taking several points of view, we're in a virtuous cycle. When we've simplified things to deal with "it" and dismiss the complexity as useless crap, we're going in circles and getting nowhere quickly.
- When we're open to changing our minds, learning something new and seeing others' viewpoints more clearly, we're getting energized by a virtuous cycle. When our minds are closed and opposed to getting contradicted, corrected or proven wrong, our energy is getting quickly drained by a vicious cycle.
- When we're thinking "it takes two to tango" and we're partly responsible for misunderstandings, conflicts and breakdowns in the relationship, we're maintaining a virtuous cycle. When we convinced the others always deserve all the blame and point a finger at them so there's no mistake who's really wrong, we're doing time in a vicious cycle.
- When time by ourselves gives us other perspectives, more questions and deeper fascination with ongoing situations, we're benefiting from a virtuous cycle. We alone-time feels lonely, exposed to negative energy and vulnerable to intense worries, we're trapped by a vicious cycle.
- When we have a choice about how to feel, we can choose to feel better, at peace or free of the past -- right now. That may be why those cycles are called "virtuous". When we have no choice, how we feel is hardwired to what happens and we speak of how others "make us feel" as if we're powerless and persecuted in a vicious cycle.