There’s a lot on our plates at the moment. With all the uncertainty around us given the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s quite understandable to feel stuck in our lives, careers and even our relationships. The feeling of being stuck and not able to move forward is quite excruciating. Finding ways to get unstuck and creating a new reality can get difficult, especially when there are real obstacles and challenging circumstances in front of us every day. But feeling stuck is not all bad because it’s only when we feel trapped that it leads to dissonance. And that dissonance, in turn, can push us forward towards action. Over the past few months, I’ve increasingly worked with individuals get unstuck and create their own reality. So today I want to share a few basic tips on how you can make small shifts if you feel stuck.
Start with some reflection: You can’t move forward if you are unable to reflect and pause. Set some time and ask yourself the following:
Where am I now?
What is my life like?
What needs to change in my life?
How much of my life is being affected by the pandemic?
Am I happy with the work I’m doing?
Are my relationships succeeding?
What events are outside of my control?
Where do I want to be in 3 months time?
Ask yourself as many questions and you need to. Be specific and explore with a curious and non-judgmental mind. Find some quiet time to journal the responses.
Take baby steps: Once you have reflected, start small. Look for the smallest step that can make the biggest impact in your life in this present moment. The power lies in what you can change now. For instance, if you are unhappy at work and looking to make a change, then one small step in the present moment could just be revamping your CV. It could be setting some time to connect and network with people and contacts in the industry you want to work in. In another instance, if you are feeling anxious about your kids back at school, starting a ten-minute mindfulness meditation practice or going out for a short walk or run can help manage the anxiety. If your relationship is struggling, then setting aside half an hour to have a conversation with your partner can be the first small step. One baby step will often lead to another.
Let go of the “shoulds”: I should be more efficient at work. I should be more goal-oriented. I should be more organised. I should be thin. I should look be the best parent. Does this sound familiar? “Shoulds” derive from internal and external critics and stems from a place of judgment. They are cognitive distortions and often the emotional consequence is guilt, resentment and anger. In this current environment, it might be difficult to let go of “shoulds” but take the time to listen to yourself – explore what’s happening physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually with yourself. Create more space for yourself and from that expansion take the time to think of what you really want.
Step away: Take a break. Constantly ruminating about the uncertainty and future can also be harmful. Step away and remove yourself from the situation for a bit. Go for a walk, to the gym or meditate. Nature has also been found to have a calming effect. The point is to do something that can de-stress you. Stepping away can also increase your creativity. When you take a break (a walk, stepping out into the garden, or just doing the dishes) your pre-frontal cortex is freed up to go searching and combining with other information in your brain. So if you need to solve an issue, or want a new idea or just feel unstuck, then step away and take that break.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable: Now more than ever you must be willing to step into the unknown. You must be willing to challenge yourself to grow and thrive. When experiencing feelings of discomfort, don’t run away from them. Firstly acknowledge that it’s a natural human reaction. When you have a high sense of personal power, you believe that you can shape your outcomes and this gives you the courage to shape your life under any circumstance. Accepting that change is inevitable can open you up to freedom.
Find a purpose: Living a fulfilling life is a radical act. We live in a world that favours, supports and provides incentives to get along. Honouring who we really are and our values can mean making tough choices but one that ultimately brings resonance and happiness in our lives. We don’t need to shop around for values, we already have them and those values are what makes each one of us unique. A fulfilling life is one in which values are honoured each and every day. When you clarify your values, you learn what’s important and what’s not.
Get support: If you are feeling stuck, getting support from a coach, counsellor or someone you trust can help you process thoughts and lay out all the possibilities you have. Sometimes it’s useful to have someone else help you align your thoughts particularly when your mind is cluttered. A coach or a mental health professional is a partner who holds the space to help you get unstuck and make progress in the right direction. I’ll leave you with this quote from Bryant McGill – “Whatever makes you uncomfortable is your biggest opportunity for growth.”
Author: Poornima Nair, Life Coach at InsideOut