Frustration. Resentment. Judgement. Anxiety. Common clingers on when we are stood in the middle of a dark forest, and we haven’t got a bloody clue how we got there or how to get out. A recent client described it as a fog all around. What I see now in clients, and certainly what I experienced personally, is how incredibly mean we are to ourselves about this. The inwardly directed anger, disdain and often disgust, that we can’t figure this out, the ‘what’s wrong with me’ mindset; the ‘I’m getting it wrong’. It’s a very real and isolating place and no matter how many times I say it here, I know that in the moment, you truly feel this is just you. Alone. Drifting. Just so I have said it: It’s not just you.
Step one: Acknowledgment.
I’m stuck: Acknowledge it. Massively under rated as a strategy. There is information to be had and growth to be made and peace to be found just by turning our gaze to look at this moment. We try so hard not to, to ignore it, to run away from it, to deny that it is happening. But it is. It is here anyway, so what would happen if you stood still and looked at it? What happened for me when I did was an enormous voice shouting “WHY?! WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?!” It felt unfair. So yes, it’s unfair – and it’s here anyway. Observe and begin to accept. And with this, some of the storm blows itself out because our raging is quietened and the energy that we had, thus far, directed at raging and running is now available to direct elsewhere – like figuring it out and, dare I say it, asking for support.
Step two: Vision and Values.
I don’t know what I want. I have spoken to many, many people whose initial answer when asked what they truly want, is “I don’t know”. For some the options are too many and too varied – too much choice. For others they are adamant, there is no choice, there are no alternatives, there is left or there is right. And for the few there are only dead ends, no paths ahead at all.
All of these places can be paralysing, we either feel there is nowhere to move to, or we are in a state of constant hesitancy to put one foot forward on any path. We have acknowledged we are here, stood on this small spot. Our next move is to dare to dream.
Yuk, I hear you say, what uncomfortable nonsense. Uncomfortable perhaps, but certainly not nonsense. We are conditioned to grow up, be sensible, stop daydreaming and stop playing. And yet it is when we can tap into this hugely underutilised imagination of ours, that much of our puzzle pieces begin to form into an image. And it is this image, when formed, that determines our destination – what we are aiming for. For me this began as something fairly loose and abstract, the most I could get was that I was sat outside at a bistro table with a coffee, across from someone. There was a tree, it was sunny. I’m not joking – that’s how it started, and that will mean nothing to you, but for me it was the start to understanding what I wanted to create in my career. It was the beginning of the vision. How I felt when I was there, what being outside represented, who was this other person?
So, the vision gives us a destination, but do all roads lead to Rome? Perhaps we now, or still have, a junction with multiple pathways ahead and a hesitancy to decide the direction of travel. Which way is best? What happens if…? What happens if not..?
In many situations we could most likely head off down one road, safe in the knowledge that we can double back, should we find ourselves in a less than desirable location and try another route. And yet many of us don’t, that judgemental part of us, that we all have, getting involved to remind us that we “should” know the right way, that getting it right is all important, that getting it wrong would be unacceptable and oh by the way.. everyone’s watching. They’re not – they are far too wrapped up in their own stuff to have time or inclination to sneer at you.
So which way? Here’s where understanding your values comes in; because with these we have the navigation system switched on. Values simply mean – what’s important to me in my life, what lights me up, what is necessary in my life besides the basics for survival. To be aware of our values and to be in tune with them enables us to assess the pathways that are ahead of us and to determine which of them best meets this fundamental part of us. The process of elimination should also not be underestimated; when we can recognise that a specific option feels flat, lacks energy, fills us with dread or is just a bit ‘meh’, this too is vital information that there is little to meet our values down this road and it is likely not to prove rewarding in the long run, in other words it is unlikely to assist us in our overall journey to our vision.
But what about me? I have no paths ahead of me, what I am supposed to do? I see you…
Step three: Perspectives
I have no choice – the clincher in the ‘I’m stuck’ quandary. When we are stuck, we are in an either or – caught between two places. For example – I’m unhappy in my job; I can’t leave. The beliefs (aka reasons) behind this are less important here – the person is in their place of no choice and right there, for them, it is absolutely real and true. And it is a place they have been, usually, for some considerable time, so they are very adept at telling the story of that place.
Picture a huge building, you are stood at the base it. The building is your ‘it’ – the thing you are stuck with, indeed it could be stuckness itself. You can’t see it’s edges from left to right and if you look up, this is your view.
It’s a very overwhelming and intimidating place and it is entirely obvious from here why you can’t see a way through. Imagine then if I said you could take 100, 200, 1000 steps backwards, what would it look like then? What if you walked around the corner and looked at the side? If you went round the back? If you took the lift to the roof and stood up there? If you climbed up a neighbouring building, with ropes, and assessed it from the 54th floor? If you got in a helicopter and flew overhead? What’s different, what’s new, what’s possible from here?
We can be too close. The building is tall, the forest is dark, the fog is thick. Being able to create distance to walk around the problem shows us other perspectives. Where do I choose to stand? How do I choose to respond to this? Here is choice.
As with all things the ability to acknowledge, to create vision, to understand and work with our values and to create new perspectives comes with practice. We all have the ability within us to navigate for ourselves, start with compassion for yourself for where you are and ask for support when you need it, us humans are social creatures, we weren’t designed to struggle on alone in silence.
If you are interested in how I can work with you around discovering what you want and getting unstuck, you can speak to me directly, you can book a free (promise I won’t chase you) call here
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