On Positive Feedback Loops and Escaping the Spiral

I have tendency to fall into positive feedback loops. But, hey, that’s a good thing, right? The word “positive” is right there in the name.

Well, no. The consequences can be good, or bad, and all a positive feedback loop does is reinforce itself, A leads to B leads to C leads to A, etc.

The feedback loops I fall into are positive feedback to negative things. Depression ruins my sleep. Sleep deprivation saps my energy. Lack of energy leads to depression. Depression ruins my sleep. Etc.

Last week I got caught in an ADHD loop, around anger. I have a foul temper, whether by (Scot-Irish) ancestry or by ADHD (it’s one of the symptoms), and I have spent a lifetime learning to control it. Sometimes, “the rusty wire, that holds the cork, that keeps the anger in, gives way…” and if I don’t get it under control, and fast, a feedback loop ensues.

When I get angry at something or someone, I tend to lose control. Control is important because losing control once makes it easier to lose control more. And I get more angry, and lose yet more control. Etc. It gets particularly bad when the control slips and some of it leaks out on my children.

I was angry this weekend, and when Kid 2 asked for a nutrition free treat for lunch, Normally, I would simply say, “No, eat something nutritious, and if you’re still hungry, THEN you can have a (brand name instant noodle soup pack). This time, I was rather sharp with him. Enough so that we both noticed I was out of sorts.

I was mad, but not at him, and he in no way deserved to receive even 1% of my ire, but he caught a bit of it. This is dangerous for me, because taking my ill humour out on my kids will really accelerate the spiral.

Fortunately, years of experience and discipline have taught me tools to get control over the anger. I applied those tools, and got out of the loop, without further harshness towards the boys.

Video version here.