10 Ways To Get ‘Unstuck’

All the work on Main Street is causing stress. But we can use the experience as practice in managing our body's reaction to stress. http://patch.com/A-ks9L

We’ve all experienced times where we feel stuck. We struggle to find a new way to approach a problem. It could be about money, relationships, career, family or even our schedule.

In situations like this, we need an infusion of fresh energy around the issue as well as a new way of thinking. There is no way out of approaching a problem from the same perspective unless something shifts. Einstein said that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

So, how do we find a new way of thinking?

1. Exercise. When we feel stuck, we need to refresh our brain and move the stuck energy of feeling defeated through the body. The best way to do that is to move. Walk, run, practice yoga, hike or just do 25 jumping jacks in your house. Make exercise a regular part of your “poor perspective” detoxification.

2. Look at the issue from the opposite point of view. If you feel you have no time to yourself, pretend you have all the time in the world. If you feel you are cash poor, pretend you have all the money you need. If you’re worried about booking new work, look at the time you have free in your schedule as an opportunity to find quality work versus just taking the first thing that comes along. When we start to look at something from another angle, we find immediate relief of anxiety, even though part of what we’re doing is tricking ourselves into a new way of thinking. This alone won’t work, but sometimes it can result in a new idea to emerge.

3. Think outside the box. I am very concrete in my thinking. This is helpful from a practical standpoint but limits my ability to think of a new solution to a problem. A perfect example is my schedule. I have a set schedule each week around teaching yoga classes. This limits my ability to be spontaneous and do things like travel on short notice or buy last-minute theatre tickets. This created a great deal of anxiety for me until I started to imagine myself booking an afternoon or evening off, in advance, at least once every few months. Sure, it’d lose the spontaneous flavor but the main object is to relieve some of the anxiety and have some balance in my life.

4. Don’t rule anything out. We tend to gravitate towards certain solutions as our fixer-uppers. Need a job? Look on the Internet and apply for job postings. Need to find more time in your schedule? Drop your exercise routine to find more free time. While these things may solve your issue in the immediate, they may not be the best solution. How about hiring a personal assistant to give you more time? How about emailing 20 of your friends and letting them know you are looking for a job? While these solutions are not ground-breaking ideas, the point is to do different things, even those things you might typically avoid.

5. Ask for help. There is nothing worse when you’re stuck than isolation. When we are stuck, we are typically depressed too, and while it may not be serious, we just don’t feel very good in general. Instead of wallowing in it, talk to anyone you can. Get other ideas and ways of looking at the issue just by opening up about what you’re experiencing. Ask people for help. You’d be surprised at how much help is available if you drop your pride and ask.

6. Give as much as you can, even when you’re afraid you don’t have enough. I’ve lived through times of income variability, both as a corporate worker and a yoga teacher. When this happens, it’s easy to get anxious about money and create fear around having and spending it. While there are good reasons to be judicious in times like these, taken to an extreme, it creates tremendous anxiety. I once read about the idea of giving even when you don’t feel you have enough and trusting that the universe will provide for you. For instance, make that donation to a friend’s charity even when you aren’t sure you have money to cover your bills. Accept that volunteer job because of the good it will do for the participants. The funny thing is, many things we do without any expectation for a return, result in wonderful feedback. That free class you gave? Turns out someone who attended wants you to teach corporate yoga at their office. That charity you supported? Turns out one of the board members needs someone with your skills. Have faith in the power of the universe.

7. Identify the quality you most wish to have and visualize how you can embody that quality.When we’re stuck, many times, the problem is us. This is not to discount that other things are contributing. The job, the boss, the children, the poor economy or any other factor outside of our control certainly impacts the situation. Instead of focusing on what you can’t control, think about what you can control. Ask yourself, “What quality do I need more of in this situation to find relief?” Maybe it’s compassion, faith, hope or happiness. Even though you may be far away from believing you have the feeling, identify it first. Then close your eyes and “see” yourself acting in this way. For instance, I don’t consider myself a spontaneous person, but I started to pretend I was more easy going. I started to open my mind up to the idea that I could go away when I wanted and I could go out whenever an option came up. Even though my logical mind told me this was not possible, starting to think in this way got me immediate relief and also started to shift some of the actual things in my schedule because I looked at them differently.

8. Relax. Develop relaxation through stretching, deep breathing or meditation. When we relax, especially relaxing the mind, we allow new ideas and thoughts to flow freely. This is exactly what we need when we’re stuck.

9. Fake some good feelings. You’ve heard the phrase, “Fake it ‘till you make it,” right? When we’re stuck, we need to “act” our way out, towards a new perspective. That doesn’t mean pretending the problem doesn’t exist but it means we put on a happy face and attack the work we have in front of us with a new sense of focus. It means we stop complaining to everyone about the problem is and pretend there is no problem. Oddly enough, when we do this, we may start to feel a little better. In that feeling of renewed lightness, a solution previously unknown to us rises up and we can start to put that to work!

10. Have faith. When we are stuck in a particular way of thinking, we need to believe that there is a way out. That takes a belief in something our minds can’t understand and that’s what faith is all about; believing in something we can’t see, feel or know quite yet. It’s a suspension of thinking and a commitment to belief in what you want, regardless of what seems like immovable obstacles in your path. 

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