By Kathy Ryndak and Gord Riddell
At various times in everyone’s life we feel stuck. We may feel like we are in a rut, spinning our tires and getting nowhere in a hurry. We may feel stuck in our careers, relationships or just life in general. More people eventually seek out some sort of help with feeling stuck than any other problem outside of dealing with loss. Being stuck may make us feel lethargic, incapable of experiencing joy or happiness, lack of gratitude for what we have and a focus on what we do not have or at least what we think we are supposed to have.
Lacking passion in your life and being stuck does not just happen overnight. It is a continuous shutting down and losing awareness of your self and what you are experiencing. Perhaps there was one area of your life that you were dissatisfied with and which you kept hoping would change but it did not. Like a pebble in a pond it begins to create a rippling effect that moves out over your various aspects of your life and before you know it, you are feeling stuck in every part of your life. Over time the feeling of being disconnected from your self, often described as being bored, can lead to feelings of frustration, lack of energy and even sadness. Given the amount of time it takes to discover that you are stuck, it can also take a bit of time to reverse the process and feel engaged in your life once again. This sense of engagement gives us energy and energy will attract more of itself and help to move us forward.
While talking about being stuck may help somewhat, doing something about is more important. Oft times talking about being stuck can just make us more stuck and the feelings of frustration, powerlessness and hopelessness become amplified. Taking action will give your mind and body a much stronger message that things are going to change. Just to repeat, getting unstuck does not happen over night and it can be hard work but being stuck is a much more difficult place to be in.
As humans, are we are enormously habitual. We do the same things over and over again, quite unconsciously. How we dress in the morning, brush our teeth, even the order that we do your morning rituals, are for the most part repetitive. We do things this way because it feels comfortable and safe. The 2 most important reasons for getting stuck is the need for comfort and safety. Safety is not physical safety; it is emotional safety, usually tied into control of our environment. No one wants surprises doing our morning rituals, yet to re-engage into our life, a certain amount of risk is necessary.
Even if you know what the root cause of your sense of being stuck is, it is important to open up all areas of your life. The following are some ideas to get yourself moving.
- You have to let go of the magical thinking that it will get better by itself. It won’t. This is not a test from the universe. It doesn’t work that way. Own that somehow you have fallen asleep at the wheel and must now shake yourself awake and take decisive action.
- Do things differently. Start small. You want to push yourself out of your comfort zone and expand your sense of safety. Brush your teeth with your other hand. Drive to work on a different route. Walk your dog on a different route. (Don’t worry your puppy will know to relieve itself along the new route.) Go shopping at different stores. The list can be quite endless. So sit yourself down and write down some things you can do differently in your life.
- Writing down what you want to change and looking at it as a reminder of your decision to change your life will keep you conscious of what you wish to accomplish. Post it where it is an ongoing reminder to do things differently. If you do not, before you can blink, you will be back doing the same things in the same way.
- Give yourself permission to feel uncomfortable. All new behaviour feels awkward. In a short period of time you will have the new behaviour under your belt and it will feel comfortable.
- Feeling fear is normal. Just think of it as normal discomfort. The role of fear is to stop change in our life that can threaten our status quo. Do not give in to your fear; it is only doing its job. If you give in, making changes later will be that much more difficult.
- Monitor yourself on a chart as to the new things you have done.
- Reward yourself in a healthy way for each new thing you do differently and consistently. Now that you have started to change some of the smaller things in your life, you will feel your energy increasing and sense of greater empowerment creeping back in.
- On to the bigger things. If you can identify what in your life may be at the route of being stuck, it is time to take a look at this area, perhaps it is your job. Remember that being stuck is to have become disengaged from things. On a sheet a paper, write down what you would like to change, including feelings and attitudes, which will assist you to re-engage in your career. Sometimes we need to identify what we do not like, before we can identify what it is we do like.
- Your plan to re-engage in your career needs to start small, the same as above and build your level of comfort and energy back up. If you start with too much, too fast, you may just be setting yourself up to be unable to push forward and you will remain stuck.
- Monitor your progress and reward yourself accordingly.
Remember, always start small, this is not a race. You may think you know exactly what needs to change, but if you are stuck — there is more to change than just one thing. Also, if think you know what that one thing is, why have you not done it?
In the Dr. Seuss book, ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go’, they talk about the waiting place. People waiting for things to happen and what a horrible place that can be. Our magical thinking can lead us to the waiting place believing if only this one thing would happen everything would be just fine and so, we wait. The fact is nothing will change if you do not take action and do something to get the energy moving again. Opportunity may knock but you do have to get up to open the door!
Important Note: Prolonged lethargy, lack of energy, hopelessness and being stuck can be symptoms of Clinical Depression, please seek appropriate medical advice as necessary.