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Stop Thinking in Circles

Break free of frustrating mental loops with this set of cognitive, emotional, and philosophical skills — whether to better understand your past, or handle your present and future with more confidence.

CurriculumAll CohortsFacilitators

Course Goals

Stop Thinking in Circles teaches so-called “overthinkers” how to break free of those frustrating mental loops.

Maybe it was about work, school, or a relationship - in any case, the experience of mentally chasing your own tail is frustrating. But you don't have to tread the same path forever, or just wait for something to change.

There are many ways to shift, reframe, dissolve, loosen, lighten, or even occasionally solve a thinking-in-circles situation. And you can learn them!

Whether you’re currently stuck thinking in a circle, want to better understand your past, or handle the future with more confidence, this diverse set of cognitive, emotional, and philosophical skills will provide a reusable method for moving forward — instead of spinning in place.

Length / Commitment

Stop Thinking in Circles takes place over 4 consecutive weeks. Each week, there will be 1 real-time class meeting (~90 minutes) and 1 office hours session (~90 minutes).

Attending the class meetings is strongly suggested, though recordings will be made available. Office hours are optional, for anyone who has further questions or who wants individualized feedback.

Syllabus / Schedule

Week 1: What is thinking in circles? What's wrong with it?

Discuss in class meeting:

  • Brainstorm examples of thought loops
  • What causes thinking in circles? / types of loops
  • How does thinking in circles feel? What problems does it cause?
  • How do loops ever end? Non-ideal vs. ideal loop resolution

Week 1 homework:

  • Choose a loop of interest (present, past, or theoretical/future) to focus on for the rest of the course
  • Describe your thinking on this loop in as must detail as possible in the discussion forum
  • Optional: come to office hours for help choosing a loop

Week 2: Cognitive Considerations

Discuss in class meeting:

  • Loops caused by imprecise or even illogical thinking
  • What information do you have? Is it enough?
  • Formal fallacies (e.g. affirming the consequent)
  • Informal fallacies (e.g. equivocation)

Week 2 homework (1 hour)

  • Re-describe your loop as precisely as possible
  • Assess what information you have, what info you lack but could get, what info is difficult to get
  • Identify any formal or informal fallacies in your thinking

Week 3: Emotional Stuff

Discuss in class meeting:

  • How do emotional states impact thinking?
  • Are emotions involuntary? How much control do we have, and how?
  • When emotional control backfires

Week 3 homework:

  • Emotional explorations of your loop
  • Visualization of possible outcomes
  • Where is the pain? What is its nature?

Week 4: Bringing it all together

Class session topics:

  • Dimensions of loops: cognitive vs. emotional, actionable vs, non-actionable, immediate vs. remote, etc
  • Attentional psychotechnologies: zooming in on a loop vs. zooming out
  • Loop recurrence

Week 4 homework:

  • Identify your loop's character, in the abstract
  • Re-describe the loop in the third person
  • Make a post-it note or index card to support your future self in dealing with the loop, if/when it recurs!


In this course, you'll learn what you can try in order to deal with your most pressing or painful mental loop. I'll provide simple notes and worksheets. You'll generate short writing assignments that you can reference again later.

These techniques will work for any future loops, so Stop Thinking in Circles is also an investment in your future well-being. The sooner you learn different ways of interacting with mental loops, the sooner they'll stop hurting and frustrating you so much.

Who Should Sign Up

This course is for anyone who...

  • Has been called an "overthinker"
  • Feels chronically indecisive
  • Feels exhausted from having the same old thoughts over and over
  • Has no idea what to do about mental loops other than reenact them endlessly/wait them out
  • Doesn't know why some of their loops eventually resolve, but others don't

On the other hand, if "thinking in circles" and "mental loops" didn't make immediate sense to you, then you're probably not the type of person who suffers from these and your time would be better spent on another course :)

Who's Behind This Course

Hi, I'm Pamela J. Hobart, a.k.a. the Life Coach for Smart People. I used to study and teach philosophy in academia. Now, in my coaching practice, I work with clients whose philosophical/existential/moral issues are all mixed up with practical questions about habits, work, choices, and relationships.

I've used the techniques covered in this course to help these clients begin to untangle what's going on with them when they get stuck thinking in circles. I'm delighted for this opportunity to bring these techniques to students who don't want or need to learn them via the high-touch, higher-cost coaching relationship.

4 weeksUp to 20 learners

This course is for anyone who has been called an "overthinker," who suffers from chronic indecision, or who feels exhausted from thinking the same thoughts over and over.

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