Updated: Feb 11, 2021
It seems that for some, the pandemic has become an opportunity to self-evaluate, to prioritize, to think about what’s important. Perhaps there’s a surge in energy around something you have always dreamed of doing, changes you'’ve wanted to make. For some, that can lead to frustration as these common thoughts begin to surface: “I don’t know what to do or where to start.” “I’m in a rut.” “I feel stuck!” “What is wrong with me?!”
Why does this happen? How can we have a surge of motivation and inspiration to make changes in our lives one minute, then the next minute feel frozen and stuck and unable to act? Feeling stuck or unmotivated is a fairly common experience for humans. It’s something that we move in and out of over the course of our lives. This answers the question of “What’s wrong with me?” Absolutely nothing. You’re a human experiencing normal ins and outs of motivation and movement. So take a breath and let yourself off the hook for starters.
Now, let’s look at stuckness on its own and try to understand what it is. Stuckness could be defined as a strong desire to move forward that is met with an equally strong drive to stay right where you are. It’s as if acting is something horrific, but not acting is equally horrific. What a conundrum! Usually this leads to a rumination cycle that looks something like this:
I want to make a change...I feel stuck in how to do it...I don’t do it...I feel bad about myself...I stay right where I am...I get frustrated at myself (AKA beat up on myself) and give up.
Does this pattern sound familiar to you? It is such a frustrating pattern that brings so much distress and discomfort. The distress forces us to develop a negative perception of stuckness and we begin to fear it, which typically only leads to more paralysis.
The great thing is that you don’t have to stay in the cycle of stuckness. You can get yourself out. Let’s look at some of the ways that you can move from frozen to moving again:
1. SHIFT PERSPECTIVE:
What if we could look at stuckness through a different lens? Not as the annoying thorn in our side that keeps us right where we don’t want to be, but maybe as a signal from our body, our hearts, and our souls, that indeed, it is time to make a change. That maybe, the distress and discomfort we feel are birthing pains to the next phase of our wonderful and amazing life story. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, and perhaps painful at times, but what if it’s what we have to move through to build the change we want to see in our lives? Experiment with shifting your perspective on stuckness and notice what happens.
2. GET OUT OF SHOULDS AND HAVE TO’S
“Shoulds” and “have to’s” are weighted beasts that are rooted in unrealistic expectations of ourselves. They constantly make us feel like we’re failing in some way. Like we should be doing something or, worse, being someone different than who we are. Shoulds (and shouldn’ts!) come from rules that exist outside of ourselves. They are about pleasing someone other than yourself. Here are some examples of “shoulds” that I hear a lot:
· I should be more productive.
· I should be calmer.
· I shouldn’t get angry.
· I should cook healthier meals.
· I should spend more time with my partner/kids/friends, etc.
· I shouldn’t need to rest.
· I should be grateful and shouldn’t complain.
The list goes on and on. Who are you trying to please?
What if instead you turned inwards towards your inner knowing and trusted it? Trusted and tuned into yourself and what you want to or were able to do vs. trying to meet some kind of external expectation?
Tuning into yourself, your own wisdom, to guide your decisions will help you feel empowered and in charge of your life.
"Have to’s” are a beast unto itself because they take away our ability to choose. They take away your power, deplete you, peck away at your sense of autonomy and ownership of your life. They’re also huge contributors to resentment, bitterness and unhappiness.
Experiment with replacing “have to’s” with “choose to”. Everything is a choice (except for the things outside your control). “But,” you might say, “I have to work. I have to get dressed in the morning. I have to pay the bills.” Well guess what, you don’t. You can choose not to work. There will be consequences, but you can choose that. You don’t have to get dressed. You can choose to walk around naked all day. Can you start to see the power of choice? The more you say “I choose to” instead of “I have to”, the more empowered, energized and motivated you will feel.
3. TAKE ONE TINY STEP
Try to remember that small things become big things. One tiny drop of water is perhaps insignificant on its own, but many drops of water a river, lake or ocean make. So…TAKE. ONE. STEP. And keep it small. If you want to exercise, start by putting on your tennis shoes. If you want to clean out your closet, start with one small corner or drawer, if you have a work project, start with any small step, including just turning on your computer, or taking the cap off your pen. Whatever the tiny step is, take it and get moving. No one else can do it for you and you don’t have to know everything to move forward.
Now, do we do this without fear? Absolutely not! That would be an unrealistic expectation but perhaps just remembering that fear is something that stings for only a short while might help. You can feel fear and take a step forward any way. Every time you feel fear and move forward despite it, your brain and body learn that you can feel fear and survive! Imagine that!
Moving out of stuckness is a practice, not a destination. But if you take the time to just notice that you’re stuck and then put some of these practices into place, you can get yourself moving in no time. Remember, slow and steady wins the race!
Myriam Martinez is a Women's Personal Life Coach, Licensed Psychotherapist, and Registered Art Therapist based out of Northern California. Her calling in this life is to teach women how to find happiness, success, and ease in their lives through the power of self-love and compassion. To learn more about Myriam click here: https://www.myriammartinezcoaching.com/