Are You Trapped in a Shame Spiral, or Is It Just a Water Slide?

As the holiday season gets into full swing, it’s easy to feel bad about past career choices, park-hopper passes, drinking alone in the dark, or opting for a two-piece. An important question to ask yourself, though, is: Is this really a shame spiral? Or is it a water slide? We have a few ways to help you identify what kind of loop you’re in—and even some tips to help you get through it!


What are you wearing?

Are you wearing a bathing suit? Body insecurities can lead to a shame spiral, as can the whooshing sound in your ears and the wet lycra clinging to your butt cheeks. Are you dressed in a way-too-expensive pair of leather leggings and a designer top that maxed out your credit card? This is a hard call, but it probably means you’re on one of those fancy water slides, like in Dubai. Cool!



Look around—who’s there?

Are you truly and terrifyingly alone, with no prospect of seeing human life for the imaginable future? If so, you could be in a shame spiral—but it could also be a water slide, like maybe after an extinction-level event that you’ve somehow escaped. Are there laughing, splashing children? All signs point to shame spiral, but we can’t say for sure. We know—sometimes it’s so hard to tell!


Touch your skin. What does it feel like?

Is your skin dry and flaky, like you’ve been neglecting it for years, not using retinol and therefore squandering your genetic gift of tiny pores? Or dry in a sun-dried, waiting in line for a water slide kind of way? In this case, there isn’t enough information available—after all, chlorine can be quite drying, and waiting in lines is an activity that easily gives way to negative self-talk. If your skin is wet, is it wet in a clammy, fear-sweat style, or moist from your own tears? Or is it damp with the thin, oily sheen of mac ‘n cheese run-off? We think you know where we’re going with this one: a fun afternoon at Big Splash!



How do you feel? Like, really feel?

Do you have an irregular heartbeat along with an impending sense of doom? Don’t worry—this is a common feeling before getting on a water slide. How about a happy sense of anticipation fluttering in your stomach just before you slip down a refreshing chute of water? If that’s it, you’ve got yourself a classic shame-spiral manic episode. Look at yourself in a mirror and repeat: “There is no waterpark nearby. There is no waterpark nearby.” That darn brain of yours made you believe there was!


Is there a sign that says “Great Wolf Lodge?”

If so, it is 100% a shame spiral. What kind of adult goes to a lodge?


Now that you’ve identified which sort of spiral you’re experiencing, here’s some advice for getting through it: We know this can be scary, but the best thing to do is close your eyes, take a deep breath, and cross your arms over your chest as you gain speed. Proper form makes for a fun time for all. And don’t forget sunscreen. Good luck!