Busting Out of Those Annoying, Confining, and Downright Untrue Brain Loops

going in circlesLet’s just assume that there’s something you want. Whether it’s a relationship or a job or just feeling good about yourself. Whatever it is, it is feeling totally unavailable to you.

I’m willing to bet there is what I call a brain loop standing in between you and that thing.

Brain loops are thought patterns. They’re mental grooves that you’ve traveled many times before and they always lead back to the same place—which is where you are right now, not having the thing that you really want.

Brain loops are based on beliefs, and are fueled by judgments.

Here’s what a typical brain loop (that has been way oversimplified for the sake of relatability) looks like:

“I want this thing”

“I can’t have this thing because _________________________”

“Waah!” or “Crap!” or “Whatever”

<radio silence on this topic for a while, until you get a reminder, and then it starts all over again>


“Let’s see how I look today.”

“Geez, my belly is big/hair looks crazy/eyes are puffy. I look disgusting.”

“Waah!” or “Crap!” or “Whatever”

<repeat the next time you look in the mirror>

Whatever your particular brain loop is, unless you become aware of it and start entertaining some new possibilities, you will always wind up exactly where you started. Which is not having that thing you want.

You can spend years on one basic brain loop, and you may not even know you’ve got it, because that particular groove has gotten so well-worn that it only takes milliseconds for you to wind up back at the start. I know, because I didn’t realize I was on one particular loop for nearly 25 years.

Someone asked me recently what I wanted to be when I grew up when I was a little kid, if I had wanted to be a writer. And honestly, I never even let myself entertain the possibility that I could be a writer (and not a stewardess or a veterinarian or anything else that was listed in my Dr. Seuss My Book About Me book) – because how could I possibly support myself by doing something that I loved to do? Something that wasn’t a real job?

I didn’t believe that I could earn a living as a writer until I was almost 33. I had left my job as executive producer at iVillage.com to do a yoga teacher training, thinking that if I didn’t have to sit at a computer all day, maybe I’d feel more fulfilled by my work life. Ironically, spending all that time on the mat (the training was a full year long) helped me get in touch with what I truly thought and felt, and gave me the confidence to go for my dream. I got my teacher training certificate and started pitching magazines the same month. (I also met my husband then too.)

What are your particular brain loops? I would love to hear about them – please share them in the comments section below.


Want to be a better person, but don’t know where to start?

My new daily podcast, How to Be a Better Person, is here to help by sharing one simple thing you can do in the next 24 hours to rise. My mission? To help you live your best life.

Subscribe on iTunes Get podcast news

6 thoughts on “Busting Out of Those Annoying, Confining, and Downright Untrue Brain Loops

  1. YES! THIS– “You can spend years on one basic brain loop, and you may not even know you’ve got it, because that particular groove has gotten so well-worn that it only takes milliseconds for you to wind up back at the start.”– is why people need coaches and a spiritual practice that empowers them.

    I feel like practicing Buddhism and working with my health coach, mentor coach, and you has made me a million times more aware of my brain loops. There’s only but so long I can complain about the same things before I realize I better start making new causes if I want different effects.

    For me, the biggest, most powerful step was noticing I’d been whining about the same things, for years in some cases. Often it would be a different manifestation but the same issue. Acknowledging these brain loops frees me up to start doing something about them. The rest is easy. I mean, it totally takes practice and is very often challenging. But at least I’m making progress. Not noticing these loops was what caused me the most suffering.

    1. The marriage loop.. the loop where you talk about your problems and how things make you feel, then you feel better, then nothing changes, then talking turns into blaming and then blaming turns into hating and then you get nothing done because you refuse to talk or communicate. Then you start over with talking, and then problem talking and then feeling talking and then you feel better and so on and so on.. and everything is one sided in the end..all faults are one sided one party is to take the blame while the other party takes blame yet excuses it with a because. Its exhausting and your life goes in a loop instead of where you want it to go.

      1. Hey Toni,
        Really clear and succinct how you described that loop. Remember, everything is changeable, and if can be of service, I’m here for you. You know how to find me. :)

    2. Hey Olivia, LOVE the insight that not noticing the loops was causing the most suffering. It’s funny how we can’t even see them, right? And then we wonder why we’re feeling stuck? Ha. It’s so simple and yet not really easy. Thanks for sharing! Love, Kate

  2. Over the past few years I have actually turned off some loops, which made me aware of others of very long standing. Some things I actually have, which I whined I would never have: nice lawn chairs on my front lawn, in the shade, with a view of blue hydrangeas and other flowers that I love, where I can sit and visit. Yesterday, my husband actually sat with me, talking, under the trees, because there were the two chairs there, and I was sitting enjoying the breeze and the view. If we don’t ask, we don’t get.

    1. Love this story, Helen! Yes, when we bust out of those loops, we can be the creator of what we want, and not a victim of old beliefs. And hallelujah for that!!! Cheers to you in your two chairs with the view of hydrangeas (written from my vintage couch on our new porch that’s nice and cool because it’s shaded by a gorgeous magnolia tree). xo Kate

Comments are closed.