According to Gestalt, most of our suffering comes from us not closing the cycles we live. Let’s not run in circles and close this 2020 cycle.

As a psychologist, I am especially aware of the importance of closing cycles. Gestalt psychology emphasizes that. According to its research, most of our suffering comes from us not closing the cycles we live. That means we suffer because we keep running in circles. A cycle can be a relationship, a life stage, or even a year. With 2020 being quite a year, it is important not to run in circles. So, let’s close this 2020 cycle by saying, “Thank you, next.”

Gestalt Psychology

Let's talk about Gestalt psychology first.
Let’s talk about Gestalt psychology first. Graphic by Haydee Vanegas on

In psychology, Gestalt is not only a theory. It is a psychological current, a theory, and therapy. That is why it is one of the most complete streams of thought. A psychological current is the principal base of the entire theory, and it is the global thought and the main conception. A psychological theory provides a model of understanding things. Psychological therapy is a set of techniques and processes to treat issues.

Gestalt psychology aims to study the psychological processes related to perception and solve problems thanks to them. So, just by an idea or an image, we can create a global mental picture, that is what we perceive. Based on that global picture, we study and analyze the information to cope with it. According to Gestalt, the perception of something is not in the object or subject itself. Instead, the perception of something is inside us. It depends on how we organize, study, and analyze something.

Gestalt theory, as Max Wertheimer explained when he put forth from his studies on the perception of movement, seeing an effect of the whole event, not contained in the sum of the parts… Gestalt psychology is a school of thought that looks at the human mind and behavior as a whole. When trying to make sense of the world around us, Gestalt psychology suggests that we do not simply focus on every small component. Instead, our minds tend to perceive objects as part of a greater whole and as elements of more complex systems. This school of psychology played a major role in the modern development of the study of human sensation and perception.

Gestalt Institute of Cleveland. “What is Gestalt”. Official website.

Gestalt and the Importance of Closing Life Cycles

How Gestalt Psychology explains closing cycles.
How Gestalt Psychology explains closing cycles. Graphic by Haydee Vanegas on

Now that I explained what a Gestalt cycle is, it is time to explain why I visualize them as a circle. When I say not to run in circles, it is because the cycle of experience has many steps. But human beings, all of us, tend to stop at any point of the cycle when difficulties come. So what happens then? We stay just where we are and start to run into the same circle constantly. It means we don’t close the cycle. That is common and normal, but also painful and stressful.

Let me explain to you what those steps of the cycle are. The cycle of experience has seven steps in total. The first step and the last one are just at the same point if we close the cycle correctly and don’t keep running in circles. Just as the Gestalt principle base sets, the entire cycle starts with the perception. So, once a cycle starts, many elements can make us stop at one of the steps. As a consequence of that stop, we continue repeating the steps we conquered over and over in circles and continue suffering.

Anything we experience is part of a life cycle, including relationships and years.
Anything we experience is part of a life cycle, including relationships and years. Graphic by Haydee Vanegas on
  1. Sensation and Perception: As I said before, everything starts with perception, and perception comes from sensation. We experience everything, thanks to sensation. We feel, touch, see, and hear everything in life — that is sensation. Based on that sensation, we get a mental image or an idea of that “thing” we experience, and that is perception.
  2. Awareness: We analyze or study the mental image or idea based on our feelings, knowledge, and memories. So, we become aware of the situation, what it is, and what it carries.
  3. Mobilization: Once we are aware of the situation and understand it, it is time for introjection. This is when we start getting to know what we have to cope with it. Again, our feelings, knowledge, and memories come into play. That inventory of ourselves happens because we are preparing for action. That is why we plan what we are going to do and how we will do it.
  4. Action: This is when everything happens. We face what is going on and act regarding the first three steps. This is the step where most people stop and break the cycle. There are many reasons why someone would freeze and not act regarding a situation.
  5. Contact: This is just the instant when we act, the exact moment when we respond to that perception. This is also another step in which most people stop by leaving the situation or escaping from it.
  6. Satisfaction: Once we act and cope with what we perceived, the next step in the cycle is the perception after doing it. Remember when I said we experience everything constantly? At this step of the cycle, we have a perception of what we did and its result. So, if we are not comfortable with that, this is another step in which the cycle can break.
  7. Withdrawal: This is where the cycle finishes. This step consists of letting go of the experience. It means finishing the cycle, ending it, and closing it. So, if we run in circles, we are not closing it nor letting the experience go.

Based on the steps and what happens in each of them, let me explain why Gestalt says we must close our cycles of experience. The first reason is that it is the natural rhythm and the way everything functions on Earth. So, everything must go on and flow within the Earth’s cycles to have a balance. The second reason is that every time we stop, that carries suffering, which can be psychological or physiological. The third reason is that when we step in one of the cycle steps, then we are going to run into circles, which means constant suffering.

Year 2020 Thank You, Next

Year 2020, thank you, Next.
Year 2020, thank you, Next. Graphic by Haydee Vanegas on

Now that I explained all of the theory and the foundation of this, it is time to explain why we have to close this year’s cycle. Remember when I said everything in our lives is a cycle of experience? Especially because it is directly related to the Earth’s cycles. Well, a year is a cycle. So, we are almost close to the satisfaction and the withdrawal steps.

As we all know, this was quite a year. It was challenging and different. We had to change almost everything in our lives. Also, sadly, we lost many things and people this year. It is completely normal to feel like our satisfaction with this experience is not the best or almost nonexistent. But like any other cycle, we must close it and let it go. Otherwise, we will continue running in circles and suffering.

This might be difficult for most of us. But it is the natural current of life. The only thing left is to say thank you to this chaotic year. Because we experienced many things, and there was almost nothing we could do to face any of the dark times. So, about the satisfaction, even when things got tricky there was almost nothing we could do, except for facing it and staying. About let it go, we say thank you by understanding there are many things we can not control. Understanding life and Earth have their own cycles, and there is no way we can not interrupt it.

So, now you know it. If you don’t want to suffer, then start working on not running in circles. Find help to start coping with all the things you lived during this year and all those things left. Let me know in the comments if you want another article about cycles of experience. And if you want to see my preparation for the end of the year and Christmas.

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