Have you ever felt stuck?
Y’know when it feels your body is glued onto a sticky yucky tarry melted road and you can’t get going no matter how hard you try lift those weary, exhausted legs?
What we have learned is that there are some things, regardless of the situation, that make us firmly stuck. Things that unless we recognise them, keep us stuck. Things we often do out of habit (because we’ve always done them – because we don’t even know we’re doing them! – because we don’t know what we could do instead).
Things we would do well to dump.
The following list is the six most common (but useless) habits that tend to keep us emotionally stuck, along with some simple tips on how to get yourself moving.
Over-valuing other people’s opinions:
We place a lot of importance on other peoples’ opinion of us. Think about it – what we do, what we wear, what we eat, how we eat it, we often ask ourselves – “what would Mom think of this dress?”, “What would she do in this situation?”. This was useful when we were kids – we were learning what was right and wrong, appropriate and not. It was a tool for survival. Adult approval is not only important, but often necessary for child survival.
But then we grow up (mostly..;)).In doing so though we often forget that now other peoples’ approval is no longer necessary for survival. Indeed, it might even be harmful to us if we go along with what they want or approve of. Take cult suicides as a (granted, very dramatic) example.
And so we waste a huge amount of time doing other peoples’ thinking for them. We censor and stop ourselves from laughing or dancing or loving, saying or doing – and all the while, the people who’s opinion we are giving so much weight to? Well they’re probably worrying what we think of them.
Ever think of it that way?
Bottom line : You don’t know what other people are thinking. You don’t even know if they’re thinking. Allow yourself to let your opinion of you matter more.
Guilt / Shame
We humans have a completely useless habit of replaying scenarios in our heads of things we said or did that we would really rather have done differently. Hindsight is a cruel thing, depending on how we use it!
Instead of hindsight, try ‘kindsight’.
If we do something that was actually wrong, then guilt and some shame are appropriate responses. These feelings inform us that we could have made better choices, and that there are consequences for our actions. Best if followed up with a plan for how not to behave like that again, understanding why we did in the first place, and making amends or apologies if appropriate.
Otherwise, and here’s the thing, guilt and shame are not helpful. If you feel shame over something that was simply a mistake, perhaps not ideal, but certainly not calamitous, then it would be nice to let that go wouldn’t it? You’ve probably had the experience where a friend says they are still mortified about a past action that you dismissed as funny or unimportant. If we can let go on other peoples’ behalf then let’s do it for ourselves.
We call this “Habit guilt”.
A good way to check for habit guilt is to ask yourself
1: If I had all the knowledge then that I do now, would I have made a different choice? If so, then younger me deserves some compassion and credit for learning.
2: If my friend did that would I continuously nag and remind them of it and insist they feel shame?
We deserve to treat ourselves with the same amount of compassion as we treat others.
Indecision and Proscrastination
Here’s a great real life example – it took us over a year to set this site live. We procrastinated and went through all sorts of mini-crises in the process. We got distracted, ” too busy”, have to vacuum the place, walk the dog – you’ve been there right?
Know these things:
Procrastination and indecision are fear in disguise. Usually, fear of what other people think (go back to our first point above).
When we accept that nothing will change unless we decide to change it, then change ‘happens’.
In other words, change doesn’t ‘happen’, it’s a choice. Staying stuck and not making a choice is also a choice. Why not go ahead and make the choices that serve your goals, rather than keep you stuck! It feels much better (promise).
We are not talking about being an actual victim (of abuse, violence or other circumstances). We’re talking about a sneaky, self-defeating mindset. Do you have a victim-mindset?
Here’s a challenge – listen to your inner and real chat, and become aware of how often you say “I can’t”, “Ya but…”, “It’s not my fault that..”. These are some of the ways we use words to disempower ourselves. While many things happen that are indeed beyond our control, what we can control is how we choose to react, what parts of an experience we embrace, what parts we let go.
Recently, one of us had a very nasty encounter with a verbally abusive person. It was a real victim situation. After which five lovely people immediately leapt to defend, support and comfort. Even with all of our experience, it took real effort to focus on the words of these five people rather than slip into a looping victim mindset triggered by this persons’ abuse, this experience.
We need not allow negative people and experiences live rent-free in our heads.
Tips to maintain your personal power:
1: Try to consciously be aware of the good. Be aware of how much headspace you assign to the ‘bad’ and realise you have a choice there. When you say “I can’t”, you probably mean “I don’t want to” – and it really is OK to say that!
2: When we say “Ya but” check – maybe you can just say “yes, I’ll consider that, even if it’s scary as hell and I feel like crying and running away WAAAAAAA!!”
3: When we say “it’s not my fault” that may be true – but you might have the solution! And your happiness is your responsibility! (If that feels daunting and irritating to read rather than freeing, you might err on the side of being in the role of ‘victim’, don’t judge that now, just notice it! You’re certainly not alone.)
The need to be right
Hate being wrong? Yes, we empathise.. the thing is, we miss out on so much if we close our minds and hearts to the fact that other people know more, or better or have different experiences to us. Learning is growth, we are all learning, all the time. When we embrace being ‘wrong‘, life gets a lot more interesting, and it’s easier to move forward – promise!
Fast-forwarding & rewinding
When we are afraid, worried, shamed or regretful it’s a sure sign we are living either in the past or shooting forward into an imaginary future. We’re so busy looking back and forward we paralyse ourselves with judgement and fear. We rehearse future arguments, regret not adding to past ones, re-embarrass ourselves about mistakes – in fact, we’re so easily triggered that just typing this triggered all sorts of delicious memories (OK, distasteful and yucky..).
The more present we stay – the more mindful we are – the more connected to ‘the now’, the happier we become. Focussing on ‘now’ reduces the amount of time we spend unhappily comparing our current self with our ideal self.
Notice your thoughts, don’t judge them, don’t even engage. Just notice what your brain is doing, right, now. Stay present, no regretting, no predicting. Just stay here. When we do this, we slow down, and solutions come easier. When we do this, we are being mindful, not mind-full.
And, as a result, moving on becomes easier because we are not ‘stuck’ in the stuff of the past. We are not weight down by regrets, habits, and worn-out beliefs.
Does any of this sound familiar for you? Of course sometimes, we need to be stuck for a while, that’s OK. But when you become aware that it’s time to move on, hopefully this will be the post for you!
Bon Voyage! 😉
And as always – remember, you’ve got this and we’ve got your back 😉