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The Doom Loop | Mindset Mondays

Guiding Questions: What is something that makes you feel fear, anxiety, or stress? What does that feeling do to you - do you know how to fight it, do you run from it, or do you freeze up and get stuck? How do you overcome those feelings?

Has something ever happened to you - real, exaggerated, or imaginary - that traps you in a mental maze of negative thoughts that lead to negative actions?

The Doom Loop is a negative thought pattern that sends you spiraling in the wrong direction.

Something happens - it can be a bad performance or performance review, negative criticism, finding out someone was talking about you, someone looking at you the wrong way or ignoring you, you have a big project coming up, you have to give a big speech or presentation, or the stress that comes from procrastination - and the thoughts in your head immediately turn to doubt leading to nervousness, anxiety, and fear.

Some people can catch and stop those thoughts immediately, while others get stuck in the spiral of negativity and can’t fight their way out, leading to self-sabotaging behaviors.

When you find yourself stuck in the Doom Loop, what strategies can you use to get unstuck?

Self-awareness is the First Step

There is a real possibility that the stories we are telling ourselves are exaggerated or false altogether. Many people have not only a fear of failure but a fear of the fear of failure. Identifying the negative stories in our minds and determining what is fact and what is fiction is the first step:

- Catch the Thought: What happened, how is it making me feel, and how has that affected my life and performance?

- Challenge its Validity: Is this thought real, exaggerated, or imaginary? Is this serious enough to keep me stuck in the Doom Loop, or can I escape this?

- Identify Your Triggers: If you know what your triggers are, you can avoid them or better cope with them. What usually sends you into the Doom Loop?

Change the Story

When we become aware of the thoughts and stories we have and how they can affect us, we can begin the process of managing and changing them so they are productive and helpful, not harmful.

- Reframe Your Thoughts: You can choose and change your thoughts. Reframe your thoughts by questioning negativity and false assumptions, and seek alternative perspectives.

- Find the Good: When you focus on the positive experiences you are having and the good things you are doing instead of the bad and negative experiences, you can put yourself in a better mood and position to be successful.

- Build Positive Momentum: Instead of trying to tackle everything at once, focus on small wins by setting small, achievable goals and celebrate your success along the way.

Build New PatternsDoing the work to escape the Doom Loop is like working out. The more you do it, the stronger you get. But if you stop building and fall back into bad habits, you can get stuck again in the Doom Loop.

- Develop Positive Habits: Identify and then do the next right thing. Then repeat this process over, and over, and over again. In an interview with Jon Gordon, high-performance psychologist Michael Gervais says three positive habits that can keep us out of the Doom Loop are meditation and mindfulness, journalling, and having conversations with people with wisdom. They help you increase your awareness, and your awareness allows you to better navigate your emotions and leverage them as positive fuel instead of them being a barrier.

- Practice Gratitude: Focusing on the things you are grateful for, big or small, can shift your mindset.- Do Something Good for Someone: Doing something for others can inject a sense of purpose and meaning into your life and shift your focus from negative thoughts to positive ones.

Remember, breaking free from a negative feedback loop takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself, celebrate your progress, and don't hesitate to seek help if needed. You have the power to break the cycle and create a more positive and fulfilling life. When you get stuck, identify and do the next right thing, and keep it going.

But at the end of the day, fear is a part of who we are and what we have to go through, and sometimes we just have to do what we have to do afraid. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, but our ability to do what we want to or have to do in the face of fear.

Olivia Rodrigo is one of the most popular singers in the world right now. In an interview with Kelly Clarkson, she talked about one of her boldest and gutsiest moments. When she was 18 years old, her second performance ever was for Saturday Night Live. She said it was an incredible opportunity, but she was terrified. When she was in her dressing room, the story she told herself was, “I don’t know if I deserve to be here.” She said it was terrifying, but she did it anyway.

We can have the best tools and strategies in the world, and fear might still be there. What are you going to do? Are you going to let fear rule your life, or are you going to jump with courage and trust that everything will work out for good?


If Doom Loops aren’t something you experience, great! But it’s important to understand what they are and how they might affect the people you lead. If you work with someone who is talented but struggles getting started, struggles with deadlines, or has moments when they withdraw, they might be getting stuck in Doom Loops. Being able to coach them and helping them get unstuck is an important leadership skill. You can use these same steps to help the people around you escape the negative spiral that Doom Loops can have them trapped in.


1 - Do you experience the Doom Loop? What is something that triggers the Doom Loop for you?

2 - How do/can you prevent the Doom Loop from capturing you before it happens?

3 - When you get caught in the Doom Loop, what do/can you do to get you out of it?

4 - If you see someone caught in the Doom Loop, how can you help them get out of it?

For a PDF version of this post, click here: The Doom Loop

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