Survival is a Loop

Co-Authored with Agata Antonow

In the HBO show, Westworld, AI humanoids (hosts) are programmed so paying human guests can experience specific storylines. The humanoids loop, meaning they repeat the same sequences over and over again, much like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, only in new narratives created for paying customers. When some of the hosts start waking up and looking past the loop, problems arise.

For the hosts, survival is a loop. Their survival is a narrative, just like any loop. Sticking to the loop allows them to survive in one form—as hosts stuck in a particular story. At the same time, their loop or story is one of survival—even as the hosts are killed by humans living out their fantasies of the Wild West, the hosts continue to survive and get brought back into the story.

Do we get stuck in loops? Are loops our own method of survival?

Many of us get caught up in our own stories—stories that can be every bit as compelling as those created for the hosts. Through conditioning and our own experiences, we get caught up in inner narratives that show up as external realities.

Maybe these are simple tales; we tell ourselves we’re destined to be successful and we launch a large company. Maybe the narratives are more labyrinth and worthy of their own TV show. We, like Dolores, the female lead of Westworld, may not initially be aware of why we do certain things, but behind the curtain are those inner dialogues encouraging us to choose one path over another. We may not realize, for instance, our tales surrounding money encourage us to “play it safe” and stay in a job we don’t enjoy or get paid enough at. Yet in that job we remain. Over months and years, our conditioning becomes our way of experiencing life, whether we’re aware of the loops in our own lives or not.

What are your loops? What are the untold stories keeping you moving forward?

We all have a basic need for survival. Most of us will go to significant lengths, even acting out of character, to survive. Our tolerance for survival is also part of our loop. Do we believe we have a responsibility to ensure more of us survive? Do we believe children are our future? This type of story we tell ourselves is what makes some people risk their lives to save the life of a child. Do we think it’s a competitive world and we have to be cutthroat to come out on top? If so, we may engage in business practices that are out of alignment with our other stated beliefs about fairness and compassion.

What are your loops? What are the untold stories keeping you moving forward?

If you notice repeating patterns in your life, it’s not that there’s a Machiavellian Dr. Ford of Westworld fame pulling the strings. It may be that there is a creative force in your head—you—creating the stories that keep you stuck in your own narrative. What would happen if you took a look at your own programming and saw the inner dialogues pushing you forward? What would survival look like for you? How would you experience life if you could step away from your loop and play off the script, even for a while?

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