We all get stuck sometimes, feeling as though we are not being the person we would like to be. Or maybe we're not making the changes we would like to make. Sometimes we get hung up on "sticky" thoughts such as "I'll never be good enough" or "I'm a terrible partner." Thoughts can have a velcro quality - once they are introduced they get stuck and it's difficult to separate from them. Then, the more we try to get rid of them or make them go away, the more they seem to return, causing us increased distress. Emotions can be the same way - if it's completely unacceptable for you to feel anxiety or nervousness, guess what, I bet you feel quite anxious! But, we don't need to overthink this : ). Here are some ideas to help you get unstuck:
Practice simply slowing down and noticing what is happening. Sometimes the easiest way to do this is to notice what is happening around you - what colors do you see? what do you hear? what do you smell? - try to engage your senses. Or, what do you notice is happening in your body? Focusing on physical sensations such as your ribs and belly moving as you breathe or your feet touching the floor can also help ground you in the moment.
If it's a thought that is keeping you stuck, practice thanking your mind for that thought. Yes, that's not a typo. When you notice the thought arising, simply say to yourself "thank you mind, for giving me xyz thought." You're just letting your mind know that you hear it and you're not going to let it control what you do.
Take some sort of action. We have many thoughts throughout the day that we do not act on. Think about how you might be in a meeting and think "wow, I am really hungry" but you don't abruptly leave the meeting so that you can eat. Same thing applies for thoughts such as "I'm never going to be good enough." You don't need to listen to that thought and let it cripple you from taking action. Take a walk, cross off one task on your to-do list, send that email, get up and stretch. Take an action despite the way you are thinking and feeling!
- Return to your values. Your values are like your personal guide on your life path, giving you a sense of direction. We get stuck when we lose track of where we are headed or let things distract us. Sometimes we need to come back and remind ourselves of what's most important to us and who we are striving to be each day.
These suggestions come from the perspective of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which focuses on living according to one's values despite the myriad of uncomfortable thoughts and feelings one experiences. For more information on ACT, contact me or visit my resources page.
What are some ways that you have managed to get "unstuck"?