What To Do When You Feel Stuck
Ever get down in a funk where you just feel stuck? Like, no matter what you do or how hard you work, nothing is happening? I feel your frustration. I feel this way a lot. But what I've found is I'm not really stuck. I'm at a place where I need to take a step forward that I don't necessarily want to take because it's out of my comfort zone. But by not taking the step needed, I'm holding myself back and trapping myself. It's like locking myself in a cage, putting the key in my pocket, and saying there's no way out. When all I really need to do is take the first step. But taking the first step is scary! So here's what to do when you're feeling stuck.
I'm a mentally adventurous person. Meaning, I am the world's greatest adventurer -- fearless and courageous. Imagine, if you will, a female Indiana Jones- except without the fedora (I prefer baseball caps). I plan out the biggest and best endeavors. I rehearse how I will overcome all the possible drawbacks, setbacks, dangers, and outcomes. And then laugh at them and think, "I can totally do this!"
It all plays out in my head with grand success and accomplishment at the end.
And then when the time comes to actually physically do them...I revert back to my introvert self and let the opportunity pass by. This, my friends, is why I think I make a great fiction writer. Because I do better at imagining the adventures instead of living them out.
But not living them causes me to feel stuck. Not living and only dreaming, gives me big expectations and hopes for life with little reward. Not living makes me die inside and feel trapped.
Do you struggle in the same way? If so, here are the steps I'm taking right now to free my caged self. These are the first steps to taking that first step. Let that oxymoron of a sentence sink in for a minute. But really these "first steps" are actions to implement while taking the true first step.
1. Get fresh air
This one may seem a little weird to you. Maybe you think this is a way to procrastinate on taking the first step. But this is so important! Think about it this way: name one action movie that doesn't have at least one outdoor chase/fight scene. If you can, I bet it was a big box office flop.
I think we often forget to go outside and soak in the Vitamin D. We forget that the adventures and living lay outside of our cell phones and Netflix and comfy couches. So no matter the weather--sun, rain, snow, negative temperatures--go outside and breathe every day. We can only get so far inside until we hit a wall and have to turn around. Outside, you have endless miles to tread. If you're feeling stuck, go outside in the fresh air and remind yourself of all the possibilities out there.
2. Mute your inner critic
Okay, now that we're outside dancing in fields of dandelions...or maybe we're just sitting on the porch drinking coffee. Either way, it's time to tackle the next step.
We are our own worst critics. You've heard this before, right? Well, it's true. We are down and hard on ourselves more than we should be. No one is created perfect. We all have struggles, fears, and failures. Imperfection is part of life. But we all have the choice to push through our insecurities and focus on our good qualities instead. Anytime your inner critic reaches out to take the mic, do something to snap yourself back to the real world. I don't care if you have to break out in 90's dance moves or hit the gym for a workout. Do something take your stage back. Because, friend, your inner critic is a major drama queen. That voice is going to pull out all the stops and exaggerations to bring you down.
This won't happen overnight, but by muting our inner critic we clear the stage for positive thoughts and productive growth. Our inner critic is the root of fear and timidity. Get rid of him, and you get rid of a lot of excess baggage!
3. Let go and let God
Once the inner critic is booed off the stage, all we hear is the rustling wind and chirping birds in the trees. It's a peaceful sound compared to the whiny critic. But where do you go from here? Who do you listen to now? If you only listen to yourself, the critic will be back in no time. Well, take a sip of coffee and breathe deep.
Just like none of us were made perfect. None of us were made to go it alone. We all need someone. And guess Who's ready to take the first step with you? God is. He's patiently waiting behind stage for you to pass the mic. He's waiting to tell you that through Him you can do all things (Philippians 4:13).
In time, our friends and family can run out of new and encouraging "You can do it!" lines to keep us going. Or maybe they get tired of hearing about our big dreams of living when they know we're not going to turn them into reality anytime soon. They're only human too, so maybe they're struggling with their own fears. But God isn't struggling. God doesn't tire from hearing from us. God wants us to pass our insecurities off to Him. He wants us to let go and let Him carry the load. So let Him. It's literally that simple.
4. Leap forward
Now it's time to put the coffee down and actually go dance among the dandelions. We've breathed our fresh air, we've pushed our inner critic off the stage, and we've handed our fears over to God.
The only thing left to do is to leap into our adventure. Whatever it is, now is the time. I can't say this any other way other than to steal Nike's famous slogan:
Just do it!
I promise you won't regret living. But you will regret dreaming your life away.
So tell me, are you going to take the leap with me and free yourself from this sticky feeling?
Stuck in a rut? Had a rough week? Here are some posts to keep you motivated through whatever endeavor life is taking you.