Recently I’ve noticed that a number of people are reporting feeling stuck, with repetitive negative thinking patterns and associated negative feelings that they just can’t shift. And the more they focus on being stuck, the more anxious they feel, as well as being lower in mood as they feel evermore helpless.
Looking back at the last 18+ months it’s not surprising that more people are feeling stuck. For many, lockdown, and the imposed restrictions, literally put a spanner in the wheel, stopping it from turning. Without momentum, the metaphorical wheel is ‘stuck in a rut’.
If this sounds familiar, for you, or someone you are supporting, there are things that you can do in addition to the usual ‘reframe your thoughts’, ‘practise gratitude’ or ‘focus on living your purpose’.
Here are some simple ideas that really work. (They’re also useful to cultivate as regular habits for managing unpleasant emotions):
- Acknowledge your feelings – emotions are a reflection of where you are now – if you’re not where you want to be, if you feel that you’re behind compared to others or nothing feels positive it’s understandable that you feel anxious or down.
- Practise acceptance. Lean into your feelings and sit with them, and learn how to feel comfortable feeling uncomfortable. Instead of trying to suppress your feelings or ‘fixing’ yourself, notice how you feel and ‘be’ where you are – you’re not broken, you are having a life experience, albeit a very unpleasant one.
- Be conscious of where you are focussing attention. Focussing on issues can trigger negative emotions, whereas focussing on solutions provides more positive feelings such as hope, anticipation or curiosity.
- Ask for support and get perspective from others – this can be particularly difficult for people that have a ‘Be Strong’ behaviour pattern who see themselves as the strong or capable go to person that never asks for help or appears to need it. This can be exacerbated by the fact that they are surrounded by people that rely on them, making them feel guilty for letting people down.
- Do something completely different – a great technique for changing your energy. When you are stuck you might need a ‘jumpstart’ much like a flat battery and tinkering at the edges just isn’t enough. Be brave – do something big enough to create a big feeling. Examples might include taking a career break, changing where you live or a significant change to your routine. Sometimes moving the furniture round or having a big declutter can help. It doesn’t have to be permanent but doing something completely different changes what you do, who you’re with, what you focus on etc and that will naturally change your thoughts and feelings.
- Surround yourself with people who radiate positive energy & plug yourself in – emotions are contagious! Avoid those ‘energy vampires’ or ‘mood hoovers’ that sap your energy at least until you’ve re-energised.
These might seem simple ideas, but they’re based on how the brain works and they will help – think of them as exercises for the brain. And much like going to the gym to exercise your body, don’t expect everything to change with one exercise routine – building muscles takes time – do them regularly and consistently and you will get results.
And if you need support, inspiration or you need a sounding board to chat things through then please get in touch.