Ep 11 The Upward Spiral: How understanding our cyclical growth can help us compassionately love ourselves and others

Welcome to the One Heart Podcast, I’m your host Brooke Snow, and I’m so grateful you are here.

Have you ever experienced a downward spiral? Those moments that knock you off course, and then it’s all downhill from there? We all have our triggers that can set things in motion… what we don’t always realize is the spiral can be traveled in two different directions. In this episode we’re going to talk about spiraling up, not down, and how understanding the spiral nature of our own growth can help us live with more compassion for ourselves and others.

To begin, I invite you to join me in a short three breath meditation to settle into our hearts.

As you may recall from episode one, I spent years of my life dedicated to personal growth. And it’s only been in the last few years as I have gone through my own dark night of the soul, that I have found it more helpful to focus on self love and compassion rather than self improvement. It’s not to say we shouldn’t aim to improve ourselves, I just find that my own tendency in the past was to put the cart before the horse. I was saving love as a reward for having improved myself. I’ll love you when ______ fill in the blank.

I’ll love you when you lose twenty pounds.
I’ll love you when you no longer react.
I’ll love you when you achieve success.
I’ll love you when you no longer make mistakes.

The ego puts so many conditions upon love. And when we do this to ourselves, we project these same projections onto the rest of the world as well. I’ll love you when….

We create a reality in which love is earned, and all people must meet an unrealistic ideal for love and approval. No one can be human. People need to stay on the pedestal. No one can make mistakes. If so, love is withdrawn and we’re back to lack.

The truth is, there really isn’t anything I need to change about myself. Nor is there anything anyone else needs to change either. We are already worthy, loved, and whole. We just forget. Our ego puts conditions on love and acceptance and when we believe those thoughts we live in a state of separateness and lack. It’s a state of forgetfulness. When we are in that state of forgetfulness, separateness and lack, we make choices that hurt ourselves and others because we are afraid.

In my many years of trying to change myself, I would often get so frustrated that I was continually working on changing the same things. The same patterns kept emerging. I would work on them, and feel I had made some progress, and then what do you know… that same pattern would surface again. I’d judge myself and feel frustrated that I must be fooling myself that I’d made any progress at all.

One of the important lessons I have learned from Mother Nature as I have put her wisdom into a central focus in my life, is that the entire Universe is cyclical. Just this week we had a Total Solar eclipse. The cycles of the moons rotation lined up perfectly with the sun to create this marvelous phenomenon. We also see the cycles of the changing seasons, over and over again. All the planets orbit, the earth spins, and each day the sun rises, the sun sets, the moon rises, the moon sets, and it continues again and again and again. there are cycles in all of nature and lest we forget, we too are nature.

There are cycles inside us as well. Biologicaly, we have a hormone cycle. For men their cycle is 24 hours, and for women their cycle is 28 days. It stands to reason that if we have cycles that exist on the physical plane, we also have cycles that exist on all the others, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

To expect that I should be able to change my emotional or mental patterns in one shot is not really in alignment with how nature works. I can work on changing a pattern, and make some improvement, AND chances are high that the pattern will resurface again. Why? Because just as the earth goes round and round, so do we. Progress is never linear. Instead of judging myself as a failure, I can simply learn to expect the cycle and take heart that I’m making cyclical progress.

One pattern that I have never managed to get rid of completely is the ego. I do have some great moments when I’m in a space of love and living in my true self. And guess what? I also have lots of moments when the ego keeps coming back! I still get pulled out. I still have moments of reaction.

I have often pondered on why we even have an ego. This is entirely my own theory, but believing it has helped me live a better life, so I’m going to share it with you.

I believe one reason we have an ego is it provides us an invitation to love ourselves. The ego is a state of mind in which we have separated from love, we have separated from the Oneness of God, and we’ve separated from who we really are. The ego isn’t real. As Aaron Abke says,

Ego is not an entity, ego is an activity.

It’s simply an activity of the mind that believes in fear, lack, and separateness.

So if ego is really an invitation to love ourselves, imagine that you have a portion of your self that has broken away from the awareness of who you are. That part of you is now separated and feels fear and lack and separateness. If you can have enough awareness to know this isn’t true, you can see this ego moment as an invitation to love yourself. Choosing to love yourself in this moment will make all the difference. It will in essence, invite that part of you back into wholeness and you will have returned to your true self.

But remember, life isn’t linear. Life is cylical. Growth is cyclical, and when you combine both the humanness of who you are with the divinity of who you are, life is going to feel more like a few steps forward and a few steps back. You may feel like you’re traveling in circles, or perhaps an even better image might be the spiral.

You are probably quite familiar with the term downward spiral. We have all experienced it. We get triggered by something and then just like a domino everything else seems to go wrong. The internal battle of the ego thoughts and feelings reactively responding to life around us. We can get knocked down and stay down, and even worse, fall further into the black hole. Maybe we’re triggered by a relationships, maybe we’re triggered by a social media comment or post, maybe we’re triggered by a disappointment of something we really hoped for but didn’t receive.

We all know what the downward spiral feels like. But if our growth is cyclical, what if there was a way for those trigger moments to invite us to spiral up, not down?

imagine for a moment, a grand spiral staircase. A staircase winding it’s way up dozens and dozens of stories. On a staircase you can travel two different directions. You can go up. And you can go down. Either way, you aren’t going straight up. You’re traveling in a spiral.

The same spiraling path exists in our own growth. Because we are humans who learn by experience, we don’t progress in a straight line. And, because of God’s grace, we also don’t fall straight down to rock bottom in one straight shot. Both directions travel incrementally. They spiral, and each turn in the spiral is created by a choice we make or a thought we choose to believe.

My all time favorite literary character is Anne of Green Gables which is a delightful tale of an orphaned girl who is adopted by an aging brother and sister who live on a farm called Green Gables in the late 19th century. Maybe it’s her red hair. Maybe it’s her wild imagination that leads her to get into all kinds of scrapes. But deep down, I think the reason that I relate to Anne so much is her temper and fiery spirit!

When Anne arrives as an orphan to live at Green Gables, she is immediately enrolled in school and her caregiver Marilla takes on the mission to civilize her. Anne has never prayed before or been taught social protocols. But even without a moral upbringing, Anne has a natural temper inside her that at times cannot be contained. On the first day of school, her new schoolmate Gilbert Blithe teases her about her red hair, pulls on her braids and calls her “carrots”. Immediately Anne explodes in rage, leaps out of her seat and in a feat of pure defense against her wounded pride, she smashes her chalkboard slate over his head, breaking it in two. Not exactly a great first impression on the first day of school. Gilbert Blithe is astonished by her reaction, and immediately forms a healthy respect for Anne. He apologizes for calling her carrots and offers a truce. But Anne…far too prideful, refuses to accept his apology and gives him the silent treatment for the next several years of school.

Friends, can I tell you how much I relate to Anne? I too can have a temper. I too have reacted. I haven’t broken any slates over people’s heads yet, but I’ve reacted in equally dramatic ways in my life and then felt so committed to my response that I too have missed out on a moment of choice that could have helped me spiral up instead of down. Gilberts sincere apology was a turning point. And Anne decided to keep heading down instead of changing direction. Not to spoil the story if you haven’t read it, but eventually years later Anne and Gilbert become dear friends after she is faced with another turning point in which she accepts Gilbert’s help to save her from a perilous situation. She turns direction in the spiral and chooses to head up instead of down and that turn changes the whole direction of her life.

Sometimes in the downward spiral we encounter moments of turning and don’t even realize it’s a turn. Like Anne, our pride can get in the way and we refuse the apology and hold the grudge, or we feel shame and believe the interpretation of events so freely given from the ego’s perspective and are lead downward. We don’t always see the turns.

In the end, whether you are on the bottom of the stair case or the top, what direction you face is the only thing that really matters. The direction you face determines which way you travel.

The imagery of the spiral is important to understanding our growth. We’re human. We react. We mess up. We get off track. We start a new habit and last two days and then forget or don’t do it. We desire to have great relationships but then we get offended or we yell or speak unkind words. We are constantly getting OFF TRACK.

It’s part of life. It’s supposed to be this way.

Life is all about “Learning by experience”. Learning by experience most definitely sounds like a spiraling adventure, not a straight shot journey.

Because we learn by experience, one of the most important skills we can master is what to do in the turns. How do we RE-TURN? How do we course correct?

Brian Tracy in his book entitled Flight Plan – The Real Secret of Success, explains that “life is like an airplane journey. From the time you take off, you will be off course 99% of the time. All airplanes are off course 99% of the time. The purpose and role of the pilot and the avionics is to continually bring the plane back on course so that it arrives on schedule at its destination.”

Did you hear that?????

the airplane is OFF COURSE 99% of the time???

He continues saying, “the real secret of success is that you must be prepared to make continual course corrections. Just as an aircraft faces headwinds, downdrafts, storm fronts, wind shear, lightning and unexpected turbulence, you will experience the same in the pursuit of any worthwhile goal.”

We must learn how to Re-Turn, and spiral up, not down.

But how do we make those turns? How do we actually turn things around when we’re heading down?

Have you ever felt the momentum that can come with spiraling down? How do you stop it and head the other direction instead?

How do you RE-TURN and spiral up?

I’m learning for myself that the most important return I can make is to return to my heart. This is why in the opening meditation we do every episode on this podcast we specifically descend out of our mind and into our hearts. We need to learn to see from the heart instead of the mind. The mind is a judge. The heart is love. And if you see with love you actually see things as they really are instead of seeing the world in illusion. You see with compassion. You see with non judgement. You see with love.

So what could these re-turns actually look like?

Let’s make this super basic, shall we?

Friends, getting a good night of sleep can be re-turn. Have you ever felt the change of heart that can come by just going to bed and getting a full nights sleep? Goodness, the whole world can absolutely look different in the morning!

A Re-turn can be getting a nourishing meal! Have you ever felt the change of heart that can come by going from a hangry state to having things suddenly feel and appear so much better?

A Re-turn can be getting outside in nature! Have you ever gone on a walk or visited the ocean or mountains or even a city park and unplugged for long enough that your soul feels totally revived? You suddenly feel a change of mind, a fresh view about the world?

A Re-turn can be taking a vacation or nap or a break.

A Re-turn can be talking to a good friend who understands you and loves you.

A Re-turn can be journaling out your fears or anxieties.

A Re-turn can be moving your body. Have you ever felt your heart and mind change about life just from going on a bike ride, a walk, a run, or a good workout at the gym?

It’s what helps us to turn around! It is what helps us to see ourselves, God, and the world differently!

We spiral up not down!

If you wonder why you may ever feel resistance to these basic self care habits, consider for a moment why that might be? I know for me I have somehow picked up some conditioning that tells me it’s selfish to take the time. Or perhaps it is other limiting beliefs that show up. Stories like:

You don’t have time, you aren’t important enough, you aren’t a priority right now, you don’t have the support you need, you are so out of practice or out of shape that it will be too hard, too many things in your lifestyle would have to change in order to make those things happen, now is not the time.

Yet, if we neglect these moments to re-turn, we spiral down, not up.

Remember, we will get off track. Constantly. In fact, I wonder if I’m not about the same accuracy as the airplane that is off course 99% of the time, and my job as the pilot of my life is to constantly work on Re-Turning.

If you find yourself right now in a downward spiral, I invite you to spiral up.

I invite you to re-turn. Come back to the heart, and ask how you can love yourself right now.

It can start as simply taking care of yourself in the basics. Eat, move, sleep, get in nature,

Imagine what life is like when those basic habits of self care are a consistent part of your life?

You incorporate moments to re-turn in your daily life, you don’t judge the patterns that cycle through your growth, and you see the ego as an invitation to love yourself more and spiral up instead of down. And when you see the ego as invitations to love yourself, guess what happens?

You start to see the ego of other people, as invitations to love them as well. We learn to see the moments of turning…

We begin to spiral up instead of spiraling down.

Do you think it is a coincidence that our very DNA is made up of a spiral? The DNA double helix is a spiral formation and contains the blueprint of who we are and who we can become. We were made for this type of growth even in the most microscopic elements of our body. The spiral is in your DNA.

We were made to re-turn. And spiral up.

The light in me honors the light in you.


Hello friend, If you enjoy this podcast, it would mean so much if you would take the time to rate, review, and subscribe. This is a brand new podcast and this does so much for helping this podcast to grow and reach more people.

And as a quick invitation, this week on the Co Create App I released my newest course, A Magical Life: Unveiling the Mystic Connection to Go. I’m sharing all my favorite sacred tools and practices that help me re-turn and spiral up in life. The course is part of our current community challenge for only $11 a month and you can cancel at any time. Simply download the Co Create app from your App Store and you’ll find it waiting for you in the Community challenge section on the app. You can find a link to Apple or Google app stores in the shownotes of this episodes. I love to have you join me. Remember, You are love. Namaste.


Receive my free “I love and accept you” Meditation on the Co Create App.

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