Stuck in Groundhog Day? Here's how to escape.
After a long January, February is finally here and with it the prospect of spring! Here in Ontario, Wiarton Willie didn't see his shadow, which means we can hope for an early spring.
This time of year I always think about the movie "Groundhog Day". If you're not familiar with the plot, it features a cynical weather reporter named Phil Connors who is sent to a small town to cover the Groundhog Day festivities. He isn't thrilled with the assignment. As a result, his TV report is mediocre at best, because he perceives the assignment as boring and is impatient to return to 'the big city'. Phil is then trapped by a blizzard and goes to bed early. When Phil wakes up, he hears the same song on the radio and to his amazement he is re-living February 2, caught in a time loop that no one else around him is aware of.
Tired of living on autopilot? You can change it!
Are you feeling like you're stuck in your own Groundhog Day? The alarm goes off, you groan, drag yourself out of bed and are dreading the rest of the day. Do you feel like you're on autopilot - wake up, eat, work, watch TV, sleep, repeat?
It's easy to feel stuck in the present. Our brain is designed to conserve as much energy as possible, so the brain prefers to use existing neural pathways - your current habits - so that it can be as efficient as possible. Our bodies are like that, too. Add in an extra day of exercise and chances are you will feel it the next day! It takes conscious effort to realize when we're thinking a negative thought and replace it with a positive, affirming thought.
Moving past negative patterns and behaviors
At the beginning of the Groundhog Day movie, Phil was also literally stuck in the present and acted out negative, reckless patterns of behavior, such as overeating, drinking too much and not caring about the effect of his actions on others. Eventually Phil becomes depressed, thinking there is no way out.
Phil eventually confides in Rita, one of the town's residents. She is sympathetic, and Phil begins to improve himself. He learns new skills and actively tries to help others. He drops his indifferent persona and does a wonderful job reporting on Groundhog Day and participates in charity. Phil's selfless actions, focus on self-improvement and openness to making the best of his experience finally breaks the time loop, allowing him to transcend the time loop and begin his new and improved life.
Phil's journey is an example of how shifting perspective and changing your patterns can transform your life, even when your external circumstances haven't changed.
Three tips for getting out of a rut and transforming your life
1. Recognize when your patterns and behaviors are hurting, rather than helping, you. In the movie, Phil was jaded and unenthusiastic about his life in general. When stuck in the time loop, Phil resorted to negative coping patterns such as overeating, drinking too much and being thoughtless to others. Negative patterns can pop up when we are feeling stuck because they are the path of least resistance. Our brains, bodies and minds are trying to conserve energy and will go into default mode until we make a conscious effort to recognize negative patterns and behaviors.
When you catch yourself hitting the snooze button or heading for a mid-afternoon snack, gently ask yourself if this behavior is helping you. Will 15 minutes more of sleep make you feel more rested, or will it make you rushed and late for work? Do you need a mid-afternoon snack, or do you need a 15 minute walk to clear your mind and relax your body? Consciously making a positive choice will create new neural pathways in your brain. The more you make positive choices, the more your brain will automatically choose the positive pathway.
2. Build your winning team. As outlined in the Change Without Pain course, building a support system is one of the key steps to transformation. In the movie, Phil was essentially alone, an outsider in the small town. As time went by, he began confiding in, and connecting with, others.It can be as simple as booking coffee or lunch with an old friend, or someone you'd like to get to know better, once a week. It gives you something to look forward to and strengthens your social connections.
Or you can sign up for a workshop or class on a topic that interests you. You'll benefit from learning something new and get the chance to interact with like-minded people. Remember that the class doesn't have to be in-person - my Udemy students can interact in the student area when they sign up for my course. You can also follow my Facebook page for free tips and advice on self-development.
3. Take action to implement new behaviours. Remember that awareness isn't action. To make a change, and get the support of your mind, body and brain, it's crucial that you act on shifting to positive, affirming thoughts and behaviours. In the movie, Phil didn't just think about learning French, for example - he went out and learned it! Pick one thing that you want to change this week and work on that.
Commit to not hitting the snooze button this week. Instead, move your alarm clock or cell phone to a spot where you have to get out of bed to turn it off. Use the extra 5 minutes to do a morning meditation, a quick stretch, or to write down your positive intentions and affirmations for the day. Once you've created the neural pathways to support your new and improved habit, you can then choose another area of your life to improve.
It may not feel like it, but spring is right around the corner - and transformation is, too! Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed these tips and how you're putting them into action. Want to know more about transforming your life? Contact me to find out how! Happy February!
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