“If you are irritated by every rub how will you be polished?”
Sometimes out of left-field we get hit by circumstances that take the wind out of us and leave us in a place I call ‘No Man’s Land’. We feel slam-dunked and stuck in a pit of fear, disorientation, disbelief, confusion, brain-fog, betrayal, sadness, and anger. As the days go on inertia, apathy and physical exhaustion set in. We start to doubt ourselves and loose our sense of self-worth. Our mind’s analyse and over-analyse the situation to try to make sense of it. The incessant question of why? why? why? churns over and over in our heads like a broken record, as we try to figure out how we got to this place and how to get out of it. We feel over-whelmed by the emotions, paralysed and helpless to do anything, like a mongoose caught in the grip of a snake.
‘No Man’s Land’ can sometimes, last for a few weeks, a month or longer. Bogged down in what feels like the trenches of World War II, the light at the end of the tunnel seems to have been completely extinguished. Like quicksand, the more you resist it, the worse it gets. Complaining about it only exacerbates it and avoiding it makes it harder.
What Is Really Going On?
Despite having personally experienced ‘No Man’s Land’ several times in my life, I am always surprised at how fast the rug gets pulled out from under my feet, which leaves me flat on my back and gasping for air. It takes anywhere from a few days to a week before I come too, scratching my head, I realize that I have once again enlisted myself for the wisdom of ‘No Man’s Land’!
This fertile and sacred ground is where great transformation happens, but only if you are present to it. No one is exempt from this place, although many choose to by-pass it by escaping through drugs, alcohol, food, etcetera. In the long run, the band-aid approach only causes more suffering. No, the task is to be completely present to all that is happening in this place and give yourself the gift of great wisdom, knowledge, and self-empowerment!
Each time I have been struck by one of these, I realised that a life chapter was ending, and a new one needed to start. The stuckness always seemed to signal imminent change.
Here the priorities of your life will come under scrutiny. The changes and challenges will make you question your very existence to life. Who am I? What am I doing with my life? What do I really want? Perhaps what you have been wating for, for a long time is an absolute change, to end what you no longer want and to start anew. You may have had the desire to transform your career or your love life or perhaps your whole life in general. However radical such changes might be, embracing them will help you grow in experience.
This process ensures that parts of your ego that were not serving you will get sloughed off. It is a painful process if you do not understand what is going on. The more you cling to what you know and refuse to let go, the worse the suffering and the pain. The disorientation and confusion is all part of it. The chaos and not knowing is there to help you let go. This is a good time to withdraw from the world and focus on your innermost self. To allow the synthesis of light and dark to take it’s course.
Once the initial shock has passed and the scrambling to gain ground has stopped, now in limbo and not knowing, a whole new world starts to re-birth itself and a re-calibration takes place. Tiny shoots start to appear, new ideas, and new insights of who you are and what you want out of life. There is more authenticity. You will develop qualities such as courage, strength, patience, understanding, compassion, faith, trust, and creativity. These are necessary to assist you in your new chapter that is about to begin.
How to Become Un-Stuck
“It’s time to turn a new leaf and sew a new seed.”
1. Living in the Now.
Fear is almost always about what may happen in the future. Stop the catastrophized thinking and bring yourself into the present moment. Use your breath to do this by consciously breathing into your belly. Take time to be present with your emotions. You may have to sit with them for a while and feel them in your body without running away.
It is your turbulent emotions that are muddying the waters so taking a step back and trying to find clarity of mind, no matter how difficult is where the transformation will happen. At first it may all seem overwhelming and confusing but delve into what the underlying story is that is creating these emotions. This is your chance to get real about who you are and what you really want in your life. Be honest about where you may feel blocked and why. Don’t shy away from this opportunity to hold the mirror up and become more authentic. It is gold!
Unpleasant events show us the way to a new path. It may be traumatic at the time but it is indicating that the old ways are no longer valid or of value in your life, and it is time to let them go. Remember there is no wrong or right decision. You are choosing now what will be the best route for your highest good. Honour that.
2. Stop the Ruminating and Repetitive Thinking.
I don’t know what do to? I hate feeling like this. I feel overwhelmed. I have failed. These repetitive thoughts keep you stuck in thinking and re-enforce that you are stuck. The more you think, the deeper you dig the hole. When you tell yourself this story over and over again, you start to believe it. Realize that you are so much more than this and you have everything within you to deal with whatever the situation is. You have to trust this. Focus on the positive qualities you have. Every time the negative thought comes up change it by rephrasing it. For example, “I am going through a period of growth and transformation and I am looking at all the options available to me.” This creates an openness to the situation which allows for confidence in yourself to take the initiative to make the changes required.
3. Love Yourself.
The most important ingredient to get you through this is to love yourself. Really loving yourself includes your totality, warts and all. Love yourself enough to take action to find your happiness. Love yourself enough to cut yourself loose from the past. Love yourself enough to set a high standard for relationships and what you want in life. Love yourself enough to feed your mind and body in a healthy way. Love yourself enough to forgive yourself and others. Love yourself enough to sit with what is and know that you are so much more than all of this.
4. Stop the Self-Criticism.
Self-criticism can damage and disable us if we put ourselves down too often. It is really a form of self-bullying. Our bodies will respond to this self-criticism by becoming over-whelmed and more distressed. Allow yourself the time and nurturing you need to process what you are going through. The more understanding and love you give yourself the easier it will be to endure this process. Change the negative self-talk and criticism to self-motivation talk instead. For example “this is a bump in the road and I am going to learn a lot through these challenges, be patient and do the best you can in each moment.” We can only ever do the best that we can in each moment, and that is enough.
5. Stop Avoidance.
Our natural human response to an unwanted situation is to avoid it, however when we over-rely on avoidance, unintended consequences are the result. When we find ourselves in a difficult situation, our thought is ‘I can’t cope’ which results in feelings of fear, we then avoid the situation by pushing it away and because we have not dealt with it the fearful thought coupled with emotions comes back and we suffer the consequences of not dealing with the situation in the first place. Rather than asking the ‘Why?’ question we can ask the ‘What?’ question. What can I do to fix this? What do I need to do differently?
6. Make A Plan.
A whole new approach needs to be established before true renewal can take place. This will take time, so be open to adopting a constitution of patience, perseverance, and endurance. Be o.k. with not knowing. When you embrace uncertainty, infinite possibilities will open up in your life. Whatever you choose to do, give it your all and do it with your whole heart. Use the mind map (number 7) to write down all the areas of your life with the corresponding emotions of how you feel. Follow the process until you start to narrow down exactly what you want and what it will take to make the changes. Go forward with confidence and visualize the best possible outcome for yourself. Follow your plan taking baby steps every day.
7. Create A Mind Map.
Motivation has more to do with emotions than with thoughts. Being stuck has everything to do with the way you feel and nothing to do with ideas, thoughts and relationships.
Make a mind map for each major dimension of your life and add a feeling bubble to it. Allow yourself to feel and write whatever comes up as you go through each section. Don’t try to hide or resist.
Once you have written down your feelings, start asking yourself why you feel the way you do. Don’t judge how you feel. It is easier to process your feelings once they are out in the open.
Ask yourself what can you do to change these feelings? Is there truth in the thoughts and beliefs that are creating these feelings or is it a story based on your past that has no validity now? Is this a repetitive program that has been running your life? Are there unnecessary fears that are being projected into the future? What can you do to stop buying into these?
Once you get down to the bottom of this you will start to gain clarity about where your blocks have been. You may not have all the answers straight away but there will be some definite movement forward. Every little step is a step out of the pit of stuckness. Have the courage to show up in your life and honour the process.
If you are in a place of stuckness there is a good chance that you have lost your conscious connection to the flow of your existence. To gain clarity, meditation is the most practical tool that will help you to get in touch with your true nature, that all knowing aspect of yourself that has in the past had the wisdom to guide you through adversity. When you quieten down and take time to listen to your rhythm you will hear the answers and intuitively know what steps to take to move forward. Despite the chaos surrounding you, you will maintain inner peace, and be able to employ outer actions that engage and reflect your inner flow.
Patience is our ability to wait in certainty, being present with whatever is happening now. It is a knowing that says as we make plans to foster change, life is carrying us to a new dawn. Out of wisdom and patience a stability in our lives arises.
10. Be Optimistic and Grateful.
Our thoughts create our reality. Thinking negative thoughts creates negative emotions which leads to more negative thinking, which keeps us in stuckness. When we focus on the positive and all the good in our life, it opens up our hearts. Acknowledge and give thanks for all the good things in your life. Start with the little things first and do it in every moment. Write down the unique gifts that you bring to the world. Look at them every day and repeat this statement out loud for each one. “I am ……..” Every time a negative thought pops up replace it with a positive thought or affirmation.
We can show gratitude to this ‘stuckness’ for now we are being forced to find new ways of doing and of being. There is no need to re-invent the wheel. Many have gone before us and experienced what we are going through and now share their knowledge on the web, in books and videos. Take the time to explore these avenues and to talk to people who have endured the same. Just making one slight change or shift at a time is like pulling a log out of the damn that has been blocked up, allowing the creative energy, new ideas, and inspiration to flow again.
12. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.
The intensity of our emotions are there to make us sit up and pay attention when we have stepped out of alignment with ourselves. Without them we would be on auto-pilot and very little growth and development would be happening within us. I believe our journey here is to achieve our greatest potential. Without the challenges of life this would not be possible. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to be present with our over-whelming emotions and to take action despite them. In doing this we find an inner-strength we never knew we had. In pushing the limits beyond our fears we learn that we can fly when all the time we thought we would fall.
13. Finding Your Resilience.
Have you been here before? Is this a familiar place? How did you cope the last time you were in a similar situation? If you have been here before, then remember what you did the last time to help you cope. You may have to dig deep to find those qualities to help you rise. Although the past situation challenged you, you survived it and came out with a new skill set, and a deeper understanding of who you are. Perhaps it fortified a faith in you that knows that despite what life throws at you, you have the ability to handle it.
14. Taking Care of Your Physical Well-Being.
If you have neglected to take care of yourself and your physical well-being this is the opportune time to do so. When we feed our body’s nutritious food, get enough sleep, regular exercise, spend time in nature and nurture ourselves, we feel loved and held, which makes it easier to endure what we are going through. Start with yourself now, what do you need? Give it to yourself.
15. Trust the Process.
Most human beings run or escape from pain and adversity rather than facing and enduring it. This is sacred space and in honouring the process you are cultivating a rock solid foundation upon which your next chapter will unfold. If you are a spiritual person then surrender up your challenge to what you believe in. To open ourselves up to the infinite possibilities gives us the hope and strength we need to endure.
16 . Slow Down, Simplify and Find Balance.
All of life has its phases of action and rest. One is as important as the other. If you are in a state of the rest phase then cooperating with it is where growth will happen. If however you push yourself to take action during this time you are going against its natural phase and this will create resistance which will result in a feeling of stuckness. If it is a time to take action and you feel afraid this will also result in a feeling of stuckness. You are holding on and resisting growth which will create suffering. To find balance take time to slow down and simplify. Prioritize according to where you are at. If you need rest then rest. If you need support then seek it. If it is clarity you need take time to meditate. Take the pressure off yourself to Be, Do, Have and listen to what you really need during this time.
17. Seek Professional Assistance.
Those who speak from experience and who have knowledge in dealing with your challenges will be able to give you some support and perspective. Don’t be afraid to seek out those who know. You will have to deal with a lot on your own during this time, having the support while you do will make the journey so much more bearable.
“Any period of seeming stagnation frustrates us in our drive to move ever onwards and upwards, but there’s something to be said for embracing these so called slumps. After all, it’s in stasis that the greatest transformation happens. Just as a dowdy, dead-looking chrysalis conceals the metamorphosis of caterpillar to butterfly, so we need stillness in order to achieve the same within ourselves.”