We all experience times when we plateau or feel trapped. Things are not changing, and we seem confused about what to do. We go through the motions and lose energy and enthusiasm for the things and people we used to love.
When we step back and analyze how this happens, some common threads appear. Let’s examine these threads with the members of this post-Halloween Group Therapy session:
- “My Life Bites” = Negative Interpretation
If you lack an attitude of gratitude in life, then your view of life tends to be pessimistic. You may say things such as ‘there’s always something’ or ‘nothing goes right for me’. That negative belief system generates a stuck or set view of life.
Antidote = Gratitude Practice
It’s true, ‘there’s always something’, but how you perceive the something makes the difference between stress-free or stress-full. Research confirms your view of life changes when you recognize and get thankful about the small and big things in life.
Grab a journal and pen and list 3 to 5 things each day you are thankful for, even the somethings!
For me, simple things like my morning coffee or the arrival of my fashion mags make the gratitude list. Daily, my kid’s and the conversations we have occupy the top spot. And, when I must stop what I’m doing and drive one of them somewhere, I am thankful! There will come a day when I will miss doing that.
- “I’m not the man I used to be” = Poor Self Care
It may be simple to eat fast food and the processed crap found in abundance in your local grocery, but that lifestyle leads to aging faster and more difficult medical issues later. It is simple to NOT exercise. Who doesn’t want to sleep in and stay comfortable? But, laziness leads to getting stuck with detrimental impact on your physical and mental health.
Antidote = Common Sense Care
This is a no brainer. First, you must move. You must exercise and it’s best when it includes cardiovascular work, resistance training, and flexibility/yoga work. You don’t have to like it to do it. It’s simple. Don’t make it complicated by letting feelings get in the way. If you are concerned you’ll be embarrassed, get over that. Be embarrassed and do it any way.
Believe it or not, but I was well over 200 pounds about 20 years ago. One of my embarrassing moments came in a step-aerobics class. The instructor thought I was pregnant and told me to ‘be careful’. I calmly told the instructor, ‘I’m not pregnant, I’m just fat’. I was mortified but I stayed and completed the class anyway.
As soon as I got into my mini-van, I sobbed. I never wanted to go back. But, I clearly knew if I wanted to change my life, I had to go back. I had to face my fat square in the mirror and do the work to change.
Second, don’t waste all that work by eating poorly each meal. There is so much I could say about nutrition, but I’ll save that for another time. Just know, it took me three years to lose 65 pounds, but I’ve never regained the weight. I’ve never struggled with food issues since learning a lifestyle. It was a case-study of one – me! I figured out what worked for me during those years knowing I never planned to diet again.
- “I feel hallow inside” = No Purpose to Living
The fastest way to getting stuck in life is living without a purpose. If you don’t know why you are here, and if you are not helping and serving others on some level, then you are missing out and likely stuck in pursuit of earthly things.
Antidote = Create a Personal Mission Statement
Gaining clarity about who you are, your identity, and showing up every day giving others the best of who you are brings success to self and the others around you. If you don’t have a personal mission statement written, then do some work to write one. I highly recommend The Path by Laurie Beth Jones as a means of writing that statement.
I wrote mine in 1997. I quote it to myself every morning before my feet it the ground. It gives me daily intention no matter who I am with—my kids, my clients, or the Target check out person.
- “I curse everything” = Critical Mind
The second fastest way to get stuck or feel trapped is to focus on what’s wrong and miss what’s right in your life.
Antidote = Focus on What’s Right
There is a gift and curse to having a critical mind. Often, innately judgmental and controlling people are incredible problem solvers, administrators, and the best with details. Nonetheless, the curse to such a mind is being blind to what’s right, good, and successful.
If you fall into the critical mind category, tasks and getting the job done tend to be more important than the relational, warm, and appreciative side of life. Thus, like a gratitude list, make it routine to meditate seeking to find the good in self and others.
Deliberate reflection on what’s excellent and right goes a long way towards contentment and better functioning relationships. This practice also extends appreciation and expresses specific praise for superior and correct work. That results in greater loyalty, respect, and love!
- “I haven’t felt alive in years” = No Hobbies
Hobbies are the spice of life! They give emotional release and renewal. If you are not engaged in some kind of hobby, whether travel, reading, creating, sports, or collecting, then you position yourself to get stuck.
Antidote: Explore! Find a passion!
If you’ve read my blog, then you know fashion is a huge passion of mine, but I don’t have a big budget to devote to it. When I need to renew and recharge, I go ‘treasure hunting’ at thrift stores, garage sales, and consignment shops. You can often find me a Restyle in Frisco or the Salvation Army on Inwood in Dallas!
- “I just feel disconnected” = No Friends, No Community, No confidants
When you go about life and fail to connect with anyone, spending time with friends or a group, then you risk getting stuck and lonely. This also leads to a trapped life doing things all by yourself.
You are made for relationships. Even if you are my task-oriented friends noted above, you are built to maneuver in and with others. Find ‘community’ similar to your interests, faith, or hobby. Volunteer or dedicate time teaching others something you know how to do. Engage with neighbors, fellow parents during kid’s practices, or start a club based on your interests or hobby.
I admit, this has been hard for me given my work and parenting schedule as a single mom of two teenagers. Time is not a big commodity I have. And, as an Introvert, I find it uncomfortable to network or be in a room full of people I don’t know. Nevertheless, I do it sometimes anxiety and all! Life requires I do it. I don’t have to like it to do it.
God’s honest truth, I’d much rather give a workshop or speak to a room full of 1000 people. That’s much less stressful!