Probably the most common problem I encounter in my coaching clients is the phenomenon of being “stuck.” You probably know the feeling. You’ve unintentionally come to some sort of crossroads and you don’t know which way to turn. There doesn’t seem to be a good option available. In today’s blog I want to offer a few suggestions for changing your mind and getting unstuck.
The first thing you should do is really weigh every option available to you. Try not to think of these options in terms of what you imagine their consequences will be, but simply what they are. If one of the options is, “run away and join the circus,” then that’s what you focus on. Not: what will my friends and family think, how will I pay my bills, etc. Don’t discount a potential course of action because you fear its consequences or assume that acting on it will spell doom for one part of your life or another.
Introduce the two potential extremes of the options available to you. Picture yourself acting on each one. How does it feel? Do you feel like one option is obviously closer to what you need than the other? Weighing the extreme options on both sides typically opens up a lot of the “middle ground” between them and often reveals options you didn’t even know you had.
If this line of self-inquiry isn’t getting you anywhere, take pause. The more times you ask and answer these questions the same way in your mind, the worse the pattern becomes. Self-doubt and negative self-talk are a downward spiral and you’re unlikely to find your path out using the same methods. It’s the popular definition of insanity and we’re all guilty of it at one time or another.
Having another person to talk to, listen to, and share perspectives with can be crucial to breaking this cycle. Whether it’s a coach like me or a close friend or family member willing to lend their time and thoughts, introducing a new perspective to the problem can help you, if not solve it outright, see perspectives you weren’t able to see before.
Remember: you are potentially the hardest person you will ever try to win an argument against. When you set your mind to black and white it can be extremely hard to tune the color back in. Dichotomies are inherently false, and self-created dichotomies in particular are doomed to failure from inception.
Stuck is never the place you plan to be. And if you knew the way out I know you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog now. Just remember that nearly everyone feels stuck at some point in their life. Don’t give in to negative self-talk, cyclical reasoning, and false dichotomies. Expand the possibilities within your mind and reach out to a trusted friend or advisor.