How can we get unstuck?
There is no denying that this year has and is a bit of a rollercoaster, at times it can feel overwhelming and I know from my clients, that many of us are looking for some refuge, but also a way to navigate feeling, well just a bit stuck.
So here is an invitation, a little tool kit to experiment with, nine ways to get unstuck......
1. Thought Labelling
Some thoughts are helpful and many are not. It is important to know that trying to stop thoughts is like trying to dam a river, the water has to go somewhere in the end. Often when we go to battle with our thoughts they get stringer and more relentless, so we can learn a smarter, easier way to take control of our thoughts. Try this little exercise
1.Spend a few moments finding an anchor of attention, this could be your breath or the sense of your feet rooted to the earth.
2. As thoughts come along, you may be tempted to jump on it without knowing where it is going, a bit like a train coming into a station, we can realise that not every train is for us, not every thought is useful.
3. Be aware of the thoughts that come along and every time you feel like hopping on to the thought, just give it a label “I am having a thought that……”
4. When you have labeled the thought, simply and gently return to your anchor of awareness.
You may wish to practice this daily for 5 to 10 minutes. Very much like training a muscle at the gym, you will see over time that thoughts do not control you, you can observe them, let them drift on by. You will start to recognise the thoughts that are useful and those that are not useful.
Thoughts are not always reality. Thoughts cannot be stopped, they are completely natural. The more you practice this, the easier it becomes.
Do you feel stuck in a negative cycle? Unable to move onwards?
It may help to re-frame some of those negatives and ask for what you do want, not what you don’t what. This may sound obvious but very often we focus on the very thing we want to get rid of. Our minds are a very clever tool, what we focus on we generally get. For example, you buy a new model of car, suddenly you start to see that model of car everywhere, or you are selling a house, all of a sudden you start to see for sale boards everywhere.
So we can use this powerful mind tool to our advantage by reframing some of those negatives, asking for what you want, not what you don’t want. Example:
I don’t want to feel anxious ------------------------ I want to feel happy, contented, and calm
I Don’t want to fail ------------------------------- I want to succeed
I feel useless ------------------------------------- I want to feel useful, happy, and productive
I feel like life is out of control --------------- I want to take control of life
I don’t know who I am anymore ------------ I want to discover who I am again so that I can live life being my true authentic self
We have an automatic negative bias. It is what kept us safe for centuries. It is what stopped our ancestors from being eaten by a big grizzly bear. Often in our society today, this negative bias can go into overdrive, we read an email the wrong way, or we get stuck in loops of negativity. Taking some time to reflect on this and reframe, asking for what you want, not what you don’t want, can really help you to move forwards and take back that control again.
We all have those memories that just make us feel warm and fuzzy, that makes us feel good. When you need a boost take a few moments to recall those lovely memories. What does it feel like, what does it sound like, what does it smell like, perhaps you can recall a taste, what does it look like, get a clear vision in your mind. Use all of your senses and get that memory just right for you. Feel better?
Find your purpose and passion
Often when we get back in touch with our life purpose, things start to naturally flow again, life has meaning, and along with it comes a life of joy.
It is worth taking some time to look deeply at what your purpose in life is by asking yourself some questions.
1. What are the times I felt the most alive and happy?
2. When do I feel the most alive and vital?
3. What do I love to do?
4. What brings me the greatest joy in life?
5. What are my strengths?
6. What do others say that I am really good at?
7. What am I passionate about?
8. What are my main skills and talents?
9. If the world was a perfect place, what would that look like?
Are there any common similarities in your answers? What does this say about your life purpose? Can you define this in a few words?
Remember …. What brings you joy and happiness is generally an indication of what your life purpose is.
4.Break it down
When you feel overwhelmed, like there is too much to do, take a pause. Big goals look much more achievable when they are broken down into small tasks. Cut that goal up into bite-size chunks. Focus on one chunk at a time. Put some timescales in to make it achievable, actionable, and time-bound.
5.One Step Back
Not sure what those steps are to achieving your goals. Visualise being at that point when you achieved your goal, what does it look like, sound like, feel like. Then take one step back, what was the previous step you took just before you achieved your goal, again what did it look like, sound like, feel like. Carry on taking those one step backs until you are back to the present. Does the path look clearer? Can you see the next steps clearly?
We all know those times when we just feel stuck, unable to move forwards (or backward or any direction). We can’t put our fingers on the reasons why but we have those familiar feelings, the knot in the stomach, the tightness in the chest.
We might be so tightly connected to a situation or story we may be telling ourselves, that we see and hear nothing else. Maybe somebody or something has niggled us, thrown us off balance. It could be as simple as somebody saying something to us without thinking about what they are saying and right at that moment we are locked into the emotion whatever it may be. Unprocessed, this can linger for some time.
It is at times like these, that I like to employ a very simple technique. One that allows us to step away from the emotion, to get some distance, to observe, and just be curious.
The Fly high practice
I take my inspiration here from the two buzzards that are currently circling above our house. Their familiar shriek call making their presence known.
This is a simple visualization meditation. Know that at any time you want to, you can open your eyes, come back to your breath, feel your feet on the floor, and feel grounded.
Close your eyes if this feels comfortable and imagine the most magnificent and beautiful bird, soaring high in the sky above. Lifted by the warm air currents, gently circling.
In your mind's eye, put yourself in the position of the bird, so you are looking down and seeing your life from this perspective and distance. Gently soaring, circling, and observing.
From this detached, birds-eye view, what do you notice about your situation? be curious as to what is going on, what do you see?
Take your time, keep soaring and circling and observing, you don’t need answers at this stage, just watch and observe from this new perspective.
When you are ready, in your mind's eye, gently come back to the ground and step back into your life.
How different do you feel?
What knowledge have you gained by seeing things from a birds-eye view?
How can you now take this new knowledge back into your life to help you move forward?
A simple quick technique that can help us bring some clarity to a situation without the emotional overlay. Very often, no new answers will come from this but just that time is taken to step away, to get some distance, can bring a sense of calm and allow us the space to react appropriately and accordingly.
7.Sit like a mountain
Need that bit of extra strength and resolve? Alter your posture. Sit as if you are the most magnificent and glorious mountain. Feet rooted in the earth's crust, a solid and straight upright posture, your head held high. Adopt this sense of dignity, of resolve, of solidity for your own.
8.Inner critic or Inner coach
You are in charge. You have the power to believe or not believe your inner critic. Start asking your inner critic some questions like “how do you know that?” “What makes you think that?” “ What evidence have you got to support that?”
Very often there are no answers to those questions because the inner critic is not based in reality for a lot of the time. A lot of the thoughts we have are completely false. It is not until we start to question them that we can start to take back release that harsh grip and turn your inner critic into your inner coach.
9. Stillness Pause
So often overlooked but the simple practice of pausing and finding some stillness can be a wonderful antidote to our fast-paced, information consumption world. Feet on the floor, look, listen. Park things for a short while, find some stillness and coherence and things can start to look different.
As always, be kind to yourself, go gently on this journey. May you rest, relax, and rejuvenate.
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