by Louise Finlayson
A recent Gallup poll found that American adults are feeling stuck, experiencing high levels of daily stress coupled with low levels of happiness. We recycle our stressed, depressive or anxious thoughts, which only serves to amplify them. The more stuck we feel, the more we close ourselves off. We may act like everything is okay, but we feel separate and alone, trapped in a vicious cycle. Here are five causes of “stuckness” and some corresponding antidotes.
Giving in to our fear is the number one reason that we feel stuck. We’re afraid of the known and the unknown, approval and disapproval, success and failure, life and death. Cleverly, we can project fear onto any situation. We want assurance that things will work out okay. However, life is and always has been a messy and dangerous business. There are no guarantees.
Antidote: The antidote to fear is courage; feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Ironically, going toward rather than away from what we fear leads to less fear and more confidence.
Thinking that we are alone has a crippling impact because we are social beings and need connection to thrive. We’re wired that way. Reluctance to reach out for help and support is usually associated with our fear of vulnerability. We want to appear strong and competent.
Antidote: The antidote to separation is connecting and sharing with others.
Sometimes we have a direction or path in mind, but lack the energy or inspiration to move forward. We think, “Tomorrow I’ll take a step,” but that tomorrow doesn’t seem to come. We procrastinate and feel more hopeless with each passing day.
Antidote: The antidote to inertia is taking one small action in the direction we want to go, followed by another small action. Gradually, we’ll pick up momentum.
Sometimes we reach a plateau in our lives. Without realizing it, we become closed to new perspectives and possibilities. A “been there, done that” mentality is a surefire way to stop growth in its tracks. We become bored, as well as boring, when we rely on old, worn-out ways of thinking and behaving.
Antidote: The antidote to being closed is cultivating a beginner’s mind; opening to new ideas, fresh perspectives and lifelong learning leads to increased vitality and growth.
Sometimes we’re out of balance. Perhaps we’ve been hyper-focused on expansive activities like doing, achieving and producing without allowing for downtime. Expansion without contraction is unsustainable. Maybe we’re resisting feeling difficult feelings or refusing to accept a new set of circumstances such as death of a loved one, a natural disaster or loss of a job. Resisting reality is an exhausting and futile endeavor.
Antidote: The antidote to resistance is accepting this state of “stuckness”, allowing ourselves to rest, heal, rejuvenate and get back into balance.
Making a conscious decision to address our “stuckness” is a powerful first step to getting unstuck and part of the art of living consciously. Reaching out is important to forward movement. Perhaps talk to a trusted friend, join a support group, go on a retreat, enlist an accountability partner, or hire a coach or therapist. When we listen to inspiring music, watch a movie about the triumph of the spirit, or repeat encouraging words to ourselves, we arouse hope for a brighter tomorrow.
Louise M. Finlayson, Ph.D., is a transformational life/leadership/executive coach with more than 30 years of experience. Her office is located at 1525 Western Ave., Ste. 1, in Albany. She will conduct an immersive, small-group transformational retreat, The Art of Living Consciously, from Jul. 18 through 21, 2019 at Wiawaka on Lake George. For more information and to register, call 518-218-0707 or visit TheArtOfLivingConsciously.com.