Feeling Stuck? How to get unstuck.
Possibly the most used word at the start of a coaching journey.
We all get stuck at some point in our lives, often many times. How to handle this comes down to our mindset around it. When I got my first big stuck, I just couldn't figure out the solution, no matter what I did or how I tried. Every time before that, I had always come to some sort of resolution, so this first proper stuck was frightening. And this is often how it plays out; initially we are frustrated and bemused – our previously practiced methods of problem resolution and decision-making don’t deliver for us. We get disorientated and perhaps a little anxious, and then if the stuckness persists, we can tend to get fixated on it. Being stuck becomes the theme for our day to day, it interrupts our normal schedules and encroaches on all areas of our lives. And when this happened to me, I panicked.
A pattern that I then often see with clients, and absolutely was the pattern I adopted myself, is the “it’s my fault” stance. I’ve always been ok before, but now I can’t solve this, so there is something wrong with me. The level of criticism we can direct at ourselves in these moments is breathtaking.
I’ve spoken many times on the subject of inner critics – they fascinate me, and in times when we are stuck, they really love to come out in force. Couple this with the often complete lack of compassion we are prepared to show ourselves, and we are in for a pretty miserable ride. I remember being desolate at what I saw as a personal failure to be able to ‘fix’ this.
Naturally, I believe in the power of a coaching relationship, and how this can truly support someone through this period as they learn to accept, to try the new and to grow. And not everyone can or wants to access this. And here lies the purpose of this week’s blog.
Today I want to offer some practical steps whereby you can coach yourself through something you are stuck on. There are a couple of conditions to this – this can’t work if you just read the words and do nothing else. As a minimum it requires you to honestly reflect and listen carefully to the answers that come to you, to not try to manipulate those thoughts into something you think looks better. Capturing either in words or pictures what you reflect adds another level of impact. And if you can share your process with someone you trust, even more impact.
So, as you go through:
Be honest with yourself.
Capture your thoughts – any format.
Share. Set the boundaries – be clear about advice, problem solving and fixing from their side.
So often when we are stuck, because it has become such a huge part of everything, it holds all of our focus and we expend a huge amount of energy running into it, trying the same old tactics to get past it. The ‘problem’ is all we can talk about, it’s all we think about, even – interestingly – if we can’t articulate exactly what the problem is. We are laser focussed on it.
Step one therefore is simple yet game changing.
Create a picture of the solution.
Wait for them….
Welcome the inner critics. “If we knew what the solution was lady, don’t you think we would have done it already?”
Yes, I get it. We need resist the urge to be literal. We don’t need the answer here, in fact I want you to keep in your awareness that there may well not be one answer, there may be loads of them. If we are talking about what’s my purpose for example, I am very much in the camp that we don’t have just one.
So we are experimenting and being curious about what comes up.
Onto the self-coaching questions:
You have moved past being stuck. What’s it like in this new place?
What is different here?
What about here excites you?
Notice what it feels like here.
What would you do if you knew you couldn’t make a mistake?
We don’t need to decide about forever. What is right for right now?
What might be getting in your way?
What do you want to do with that?
What’s your first step for right now?
So much of coaching is about becoming aware of the information we are already carrying around, interpreting it, acknowledging it, and then choosing what we want to do with this new found awareness. There is no right or wrong, there is only what is important for you and how you choose to use that information.
In my case, I couldn’t articulate a solution., I couldn’t articulate the problem either. So initially when asked to crate a picture of the “solution” I was utterly lost. My coach helped me visualise instead not what is was, but how it was. With this in mind, I was better able to define the steps to help me move towards that. I was able to articulate ‘more of this’, ‘less of that’ and as I moved, the path continued to show itself in front of me. For me, it became apparent that I needed to take a step, in any direction, to be able to see what was possible ahead. And nothing needed to be forever.
It meant that instead of the ‘stuck’ sapping all my energy, I was able to peer around it and see opportunities. Liberating.
It also meant that when I got stuck the next time (yep that happens!), I had a new process and a new attitude towards it. There was nothing here to fear. We have our own answers, we will locate them, we don’t need all the answers right now, we just need the one for now to help us take the first step.
Amazing things happen when you try
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Do I need a coach? What is coaching, how it could help you, what to expect and how to find your coach. I've tried to anwer the common queries.
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I work with individuals, teams and organisations, helping them become more self-aware so that they can appreciate choice and make decisions to change with confidence.
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