In a previous post titled “Out of the Loop“, I talked about “The Learning Loop” and how it relates to us and our children. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you read that post now in order to fully understand what I’m about to say.
For a quick synopsis, if you look at the image above, you’ll see that we have a “stop and think” side to the loop and a “move and think” side. Basically, we want to be able to continuously move between these two sides without getting “bopped out”. “Bopped out” is where all the words on the outside of the loop come in. Again- if you’d like a better understanding of the learning loop, please do read my first post.
Today, I want to talk about what I call “walking the loop”.
You see, there’s the inside of the loop, where we are gracefully dancing back and forth between “stop and think” and “move and think”. And then there’s the outside- the “bopped out” part. But what about the loop itself?
When I teach people about the learning loop, I always address the loop itself. I address it because for me, I see a lot of kids (and adults alike) that spend time doing what I call “walking the loop”.
What does it mean to “walk the loop”?
To me it’s those kids that are on edge. They are the ones that aren’t fully flowing between “stop and think” and “move and think”, but they also aren’t bopped out either. They are just kind of hanging on. Walking this “tight rope” of the loop. Balancing the best they can between being “in the loop” and “out of the loop”- but balancing none the less.
I have a large piece of rope that I use when I teach the learning loop. The rope is placed on the floor and the cards are placed inside and around the outside- to illustrate the pieces of the loop.
When I’m talking about “walking the loop”, I literally walk on the loop. Showing the person how sometimes, we may be walking on that loop. Balancing the best we can on this small wire (so to speak) but not fully in or out of the loop. I think that sometimes this is actually one of the worst places to be because we may not even realize that we are walking the loop.
So what may “walking the loop” look like in real life?
It may be the person who falls apart at the drop of a hat- any little thing sets them off.
It may be the child who seems happy one minute and suddenly “out of the loop” the next minute.
It may be the child who is irritable and cranky and just can’t seem to get past it.
Think about that loop again. That small rope (or wire).
“Walking the loop” is walking on it as if we were walking a tight rope. Constantly doing our best to balance– using that long pole (like real tight rope walkers) to keep us from swaying too far one way or another. Doing our best to stay focused ahead, meanwhile moving forward on this teeny tiny level of support- that wire.
And you know what?
Walking on that wire- “walking the loop”, is exhausting, right?
It’s exhausting because we never know which way we are going to lean. We never know which way we may end up falling at any given movement. We are walking that wire, doing our best to control our emotions and stay in the loop, but it takes so much energy away from other things!
Some people- kids, teens, adults- spend way too much time walking the loop.
Now, is that better than being out of the loop? I would say yes, but it’s still not as nice as being fully in the loop most of the time.
Ok, so I’ve talked about walking the loop, and what that means. And, as always, that brings us to the “what can we do?” part.
What can we do? At Brain FUNdamentals, I teach my clients movements of course. The same movements that we use to get back into the loop, also help us with the balancing act of walking the loop.
There is a catch though.
As with all of the movements I teach, one needs to do them in order for them to work. That seems obvious, I know, but that is actually one of the hardest parts of helping kids and families in the way that I do. Helping them to “notice” when they need to do the movements. Notice when they are “out of the loop” or “walking the loop” and to use the movements to help.
Now, I do want to add this. I understand (and know) that no one is perfect. “Noticing” is a skill that I teach my clients and it takes time to learn that skill.
I also understand that it can be hard to develop new habits and be willing to do things that help. I myself sometimes find myself “walking the loop” and don’t always use the movements as promptly as I should, so I get it. But I would be amiss if I didn’t at least mention that issue.
Ok. Enough with that and back to the loop.
“Walking the loop” is not a great place to be, just like “out of the loop” isn’t a great place to be. However, there are tools that can help. There are movements that you can learn from me and there are other tools that you may have in your “tool belt”.
No matter what- let’s all do our best to help ourselves (and our children) to stay in “the loop” as much as we can because ultimately? We’ll all be better for it.