You know the feeling.
It’s that feeling that’s caused you to talk about finding a new job for 2 years, but you still haven’t quit your old one. Nor have you even started your search.
It’s that feeling when you realize you’ve been going through a bajillion jobs, or girls, for the past 5 years, with no real passion.
It’s that feeling when you stared out the window, trying to get work done…. but you kept wondering why your ex just broke up with you. For days on end.
When I was little, and really emo, I used to stay up all night and listen to music while writing sad poetry about my sad life.
We all hit that wall sometimes. We all get stuck in our emotions, and can’t move forward with our intentions. If we’re lucky, we figure out that we’re stuck sooner rather than later. If we’re unlucky, we sleepwalk through the feeling for a long time, doing the same things over-and-over.
What do we do when we get stuck? Here are my 9 hard-earned tips.
1. Break the downward cycle of negative thinking with something challenging.
Are you obsessively wondering whether your ex is going to call you back? Or worrying about whether you’ll get that job offer?
Choose something mentally challenging that forces you to be in the moment: play basketball, give a speech, or cook a meal with a hot wok where you’re frantically throwing food in for 30 sec. at a time.
Seriously. As soon as you start to obsess, go do that mentally challenging thing. Key Phrases: Mental challenge. In the moment.
You just need to move your brain off that crazy stuck place. Break that cycle!
2. Change your Mood.
Did I already mention that I used to write emo poetry? Yes, I think so.
Instead of listening to emo music with depressing lyrics, what I SHOULD have been doing was listening to HAPPY music to snap me out of it.
Now, I have playlists with emotions attached to them: Happy, Thoughtful, Sad, Upbeat, Sleepy. I use my music to switch up the mood depending on what I need.
Feeling emo is great when you want to feel self-important and when you have tons of time to waste. It’s not so great when you’re trying to get your work done, and all you can do is feel upset.
Feel your sadness. Then: Get happy. Get through it.
3. Get your friends to help.
Friends are half of my life. Without my friends, I’d be a very different person. But, remember….. When you are stuck & you decide to talk to your friends……
DON’T keep complaining on about that thing in the same old way you’ve been talking about it (OK in small doses only!):
~ “Ohhh, why can’t I just get a better job? Woe is me!”
~ “I can’t believe that so-and-so never called me back after that date! Whyyyyy?”
DO vent for a quick minute, and THEN tell them about your plans and ask for help:
~ “Hey, I want to get a job. Will you make sure that I actually apply for one? Will you just call me in a week and make sure I do it?”
~ “I’ve decided I’m going to get over so-and-so who isn’t worth my time since they never called me back. Instead, I’m going to learn some underwater basket-weaving, because that’s mentally challenging and will break the pattern of obsessing over so-and-so. Will you call me and make sure I finish weaving my basket next week?”
4. Reach out and touch someone.
Seriously. Hug someone. Or maybe hug a pet. Or maybe a tree. Let them hug you. It helps change your perspective and feelings on things. It calms you down. It relaxes you.
(It goes without saying, but…. please make sure that you have permission before touching someone. Otherwise, this tip will get you checked into the police station.)
5. Build up your chosen-family, because they can help pull you out when you need it.
Once, I wanted to meet more queer-friendly friends. So I volunteered for an AIDS organization.
My friend wanted to meet more musicians. So he joined a Meetup group for musicians.
If you don’t have good friends yet, think: What type of values do you want your friends to have? Where could you find people with these values? A church? A dance class? A club? Volunteering at a homeless shelter?
Find your people. Build your chosen family.
It’s hard to pull yourself out of the mud when you’re alone. We all need a little help, sometimes.
6. Focus on 1 thing at a time.
Sometimes, we get “stuck” because we actually have SO MANY PLANS and we don’t know where to start. So then we do nothing. Because, deep down, we want to do everything.
I get it. “Wanting to do everything” is my middle name. I swing between two extremes: “I want to do everything so therefore I will eat ice cream while surfing the internet because I’m SOOOO overwhelmed by all the things I want to do.” And, “I want to do everything so therefore I’m sucking at everything, since I have no time.”
It’s a Lose-Lose situation.
Focus on 1 thing at a time. Do the job application for “popsicle vendor” first. Don’t stress about whether you’ll have time to do the other 2 jobs as “rock star” and “unicorn herder,” since you haven’t applied for them yet. You’ll get there when you get there.
7. “Done is better than perfect.”
Another reason we get stuck is because we want everything to be PERFECT. OH MY GOD we just can’t make a mistake. So, like the people in #6, we do nothing. Because, deep down, we know we can never be perfect.
And that’s OK.
The bottom line is, while you are waiting to be perfect, your life is passing you by. And now, your life consists of you sitting around doing nothing — which is the polar opposite of being perfect. And probably the polar opposite of what you want.
We are all Works-in-Progress. Therefore, everything we do is a Work-in-Progress, too. If this perfectionism rings true for you, remember your mantra — “Done is better than perfect.”
If it makes you feel better, tell your friends, “I am sucking at _____ on purpose.” Then get it done. Live your life the way you want to. Get it done. Make it suck on purpose. Who cares? You’re living your life. You have to start somewhere.
Meditation is not being stuck; it is being still.
If we’re always fixating on that thing or that person…. or if our minds and bodies are flitting around without stopping….. we are not being whole. We need to check-in with ourselves and make sure that what we’re DOING is what we WANT.
You can learn more about it, but here are some basic steps–
a. Set an intention: What quality do you want in your life? Who do you want to become?
b. Sit still. Try not to stab yourself in the face out of boredom. Also, try not to get up and run away. I had to work my way up from 2 minutes; now I can do 30 minutes, but that’s only with tons of practice. You might be better than me at staying still.
c. Name the sensations you feel: “thinking, anxiety, heat in my head, a tingle in my right hand.” Just be aware of what is happening in your body.
d. Return to your intention when you feel your thoughts spinning out of your control.
With a LOT of practice, your body will help you get unstuck. Your body often knows more than your brain does about your emotions. It’s worth the practice. As someone who hated every minute of meditation for months, you can take my word for it.
9. Remember that Time is Medicine.
“Time heals everything” is a cliche…. because it is true. People say it all the time…. because it is true.
This isn’t a concrete action; just a friendly reminder.
If you’re stuck because you are hurt, or upset, or going through a major life event, just know that it’ll get better.
The upside? Once you get through something the first time, it builds your confidence in that you can get through it again.
Sometimes, you need to walk around the wall, instead of ramming your head through it. If you have any other tips to share, please do share!
I wish you all luck! I hope you are starting off 2015 with the right amount of movement, stillness, peace, motivation, and joy.
* PS : This post is inspired by Caleb, who wrote with the following about getting over his ex — “I feel like there’s a wall blocking me from doing so. I decided to talk to other girls but I stopped myself from dating them. I just feel stuck at the moment.”