How to Get Unstuck and Move Past Tough Times
As I write this, it's Christmas Eve and I am looking forward to spending time with family and friends. In the Northern Hemisphere we're now moving from the darkness (the shortest night of the year on December 21) towards longer periods of daylight and the promise of spring in a few short months. Plus, we have a new decade ahead, so this can be an excellent time for self-reflection. I invite you to take a pause in your schedule to relax and be present and consider if there's any part of your life where you feel stuck or are experiencing a tough time.
In part 1 of this series, we talked about ‘A Christmas Carol’ and its message that change - and transformation - is easier than you think. In part 2 , you learned how to stop being ‘haunted’ by your past. This week, we’ll talk about feeling stuck in your present situation and how to move past it, especially if you're going through a challenging time of change or transition.
We all feel stuck from time to time. Stuck in the wrong job, wrong relationship, or we might have a nagging feeling that we’re not achieving our highest potential. Feeling mentally stuck likely means that we are overly focused on the present, and our current experience. If we're stuck, we're not planning or envisioning a brighter future.
It might help to relate the mental state of ‘stuckness’ as a physical experience. If you were walking in the woods and your foot got stuck in some mud, what would you do? You’d pull your foot out, right? But if you just stood there and didn’t move, your foot would sink lower and lower until you wouldn’t be able to pull it out, at least by yourself. If you're really stuck, you might need others to help pull you out of the mud. Getting mentally 'unstuck' is the same process.
We're going to continue the theme of ‘A Christmas Carol’ and how it relates to being stuck in the present. After his visit with the Ghost of Christmas Past, Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Present. He is the least scary ghost (or at least was when I was a kid) because he is jolly, has a ton of food with him and is all about peace and goodwill. Sounds good, right? Well, it turns out that things are not as shiny as they seem in the present. The Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge how others are suffering and how Scrooge has turned a blind eye to the suffering of others.
The Ghost of Christmas Present even ages before Scrooge’s eyes, showing how the suffering in the world is weighing upon him. The ghost's aging also demonstrates the temporary nature of the present, that time passes and situations change. Our present situation, no matter how uncomfortable, is temporary. Nothing lasts forever, whether it’s good or bad.
The ghost also demonstrates that things are often not as they appear. He starts out happy and jolly on the outside, but the true nature of the present is revealed over time. We can relate this to today's world - it can be tempting to think that others have it easier, that they have better jobs, and incomes, and spouses than we do. But the truth is, we don’t know that for sure. I like to remember the phrase ‘compare and despair’ – comparing yourself to others, or even how you think your life should be, doesn’t help to move forward.
These sound like platitudes, and they are...but platitudes are often true. You may feel like the uncomfortable situation will never end, but that’s a feeling, it’s not a fact. You can give yourself permission to be kind to yourself, and to take care of yourself during hard times but commit to taking small steps to planning and creating a more positive future for yourself.
You can use my three-step system do to create positive momentum in your present moment and get unstuck:
1. Recognize that feelings are a barometer and can be used to your benefit, to create a plan of action to move past tough times. Take the time to clearly identify what your feelings are and try not to label them as 'good' or 'bad'; like the present moment, they just 'are'. Remember that feelings aren't facts and that being 'in the feels' for too long can contribute to keeping you stuck. Also recognize the importance of taking care of the needs of your mind, body and spirit, even during the busy holiday season. The Ghost of Christmas Present demonstrates that the stress of the present moment can really wear you down, so practicing good self-care can help minimize stress caused by your present situation.
2. Release blame or judgment directed at yourself or your current situation. Blame doesn’t help the situation and keeps us stuck in the victim mentality. Releasing blame can help you get unstuck by allowing you to move forward without the weight of the world on your shoulders. You can write out negative thoughts and feelings about a situation and replace them with positive affirmations. Or you can practice doing a loving-kindness mediation every day for 5 minutes.
3. Rebuild or repair the part of your life that's causing you pain or discomfort. Looking at your current situation realistically can be challenging, just like it was hard for Scrooge to see the suffering of those who were less fortunate. Realistically assessing our situation, and making a plan that takes our feelings, needs and goals into account, is a crucial step in improving and transforming our lives.
It’s no coincidence that our current moment is called the present, because it truly is a gift. What do you think – can you implement the 3-step process to improve your relationships, or another area of your life? As an early Christmas gift, enroll in the Change Without Pain course and get 25% OFF using the code 2020TRANSFORMATION. Merry Christmas and best wishes for a transformational holiday season!
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