Feeling Stuck? Five Bad Habits to Avoid
"I feel stuck." That's one of the most common things I hear from potential clients. People feel stuck for many different reasons. They may be in a relationship that no longer is working, but they don't know how to leave. They may have a dream of starting their own business, but aren't exactly sure where to begin. Or they may just want to incorporate more fun in their lives, but aren't sure how to make that happen.
The feeling of being stuck is familiar to most of us. Even though our lives seem to be in constant motion, very little of that motion actually moves us forward. We are similar to a logjam in a river. The river is rushing all around us, but we aren't going anywhere. Why is it so easy for us to lose life's flow? What is it about the way we live our lives that makes us feel "stuck"?
There are probably many answers to these questions. Let's consider five of the most common behaviors that hold us back from living how we really want to live.
Believing What You Think
The average mind has about 60,000 thoughts a day and most of us believe about 99 percent of what we think. Some of our thoughts are products of our upbringing and the culture in which we live. Others are the product of our mind synthesizing observations into our own brilliant deductions about the world. Our thoughts help us make sense of our world and our life, and so it is only logical that we hold our thoughts to be the truth. They become our beliefs.
This, however, is where we can get into trouble. We cling to beliefs that may no longer serve us. How many of you know for certain that you are not good at art, sports, or math? Most of us didn't leave elementary school without having gotten some negative feedback in at least one of these three areas.
What beliefs are you harboring that may be keeping your life stuck? What things do you think you could never do? What things shouldn't be the way they are? Who would be very upset if you were to follow your heart? It might be time to examine your belief system and see what thoughts are holding you back.
Blaming Others for Our Circumstances
How often have you heard comments such as, "My manager is such a jerk. No wonder I am having trouble doing my job." Or, "Don't blame me. I didn't make that decision!"
We all have things we'd like to improve in our lives. That is just the way life is. It throws us curveballs and our job is to figure out the best way to deal with them. Some people defer to curveballs. They remove themselves from the batter's box and wait for a pitch they like better. Meanwhile, life continues and after a while these people find themselves still standing outside the batter's box feeling stalled in their lives.
Another approach is to step up to the plate and give that curveball your best shot. Realize that you are the only one who can truly take charge of the situation. What would it take for you to hit that ball? A good place to start is putting together a game plan that includes intention, determination, and lots of practice. You might not hit the first few pitches. But eventually you will get your timing and swing down, and you will start knocking those balls out of the park. You will begin to see that the more you step into your life, the less stuck you feel.
Taking Life (and Yourself) Too Seriously
Most of us were raised to believe that the key to success is hard work. Recently, that belief has been revised to include very long hours. I would like to challenge that belief with another old adage: "All work and no play makes Jack/Jill a dull person."
To keep our lives flowing we need to intersperse fun, laughter, and creativity with our work. We need to be able to take time to enjoy and reenergize ourselves without feeling guilty or irresponsible. It is during these times of rest and fun that our minds are free to dream and imagine. This is when we very often come up with solutions to our problems, new ways to hit life's curveballs, and new strategies to enliven and enrich ourselves.
Living Life in the Middle
One of the most common ways people get stuck is by living their lives in the middle, rather than closer to the edge. Living life in the middle keeps you safely in your comfort zone: by doing things the same way, avoiding change at all costs, and eliminating all spontaneity from your life. As boring as this may sound, it is the way the majority of people live. And, as a result, the middle is an extremely crowded place where it is very easy to feel stuck.
By encouraging yourself to take small, yet consistent, steps toward the "edge," you will find that life has much more room in which to move around. And the edge is not as scary as you might think. As you begin to try new things, new perspectives will open up and you will begin to see more possibilities and opportunities. You will meet people who are also stepping outside their comfort zones and who can be supportive in your journey. As your life begins to open and flow, you will wonder how you ever tolerated living in the middle.
Falling Prey to the Fear of the Unknown
Fear is a powerful emotion. It protects us and keeps us from doing destructive things, yet it can also keep us from doing new and wonderful things. Most of us get a little nervous when we are not sure about what is around the corner. Yet, sometimes getting our life unstuck takes a leap of faith and a strong belief that the word FEAR is really an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real.
Have you always dreamed about starting your own business, becoming a sculptor, or sailing around the world? To give those dreams any chance of materializing, you must face head-on the fears that are holding you back and trust yourself and your dream. Will you be successful? Maybe so, maybe not. But at least you have opened the door to the possibility of your dream coming true. If you freeze up at the thought of failure and never open that door, you will have no chance of realizing your dream and you will always be left with the question of what could have been.
Our lives, like rivers, will always experience a few logjams. The issue is not whether we get stuck. The issue is how we pull ourselves out of the jam and get our lives flowing again. Becoming more aware of which behavior patterns are responsible for keeping us stuck is a great place to start that process.
Mary Ann Bailey, MC, is a life coach who works with people who are feeling stuck or out of sync in their lives. She specializes in helping professional women who are struggling with midlife career changes.