In some cases it’s difficult to put your finger on what it is that doesn't feel right about a certain situation, and it’s difficult to take action if you don’t even know where to begin... This is when we tend to feel stuck. How to get unstuck?
(Ps. If you'd like to read in Swedish, you can find that version here.)
A personal example related to this topic.
I’ve always been very clear on what I’ve wanted. So much so that I decided to be an Economist at around 14 years old. It was so clear to me that I only considered one program going to high school and then one program at the University. Simple as that.
After graduation I already knew what to do; Financial Risk Management with the goal of going into Trading and Brokerage. Check, check, check. How nice it was to have that clarity and focus. At the time, when other people said that they didn’t know what they wanted it really baffled me. How could one NOT know? I thought; “how can it be so clear to some and not to others?”
Then one day when I had reached my long-term goals I thought, “ok, so now what?” For the first time, I took a proper look at where I was and it surprised me to find out that I didn't quite like what I saw as much as I thought I did.
The more I observed the values I was living by, the more I started questioning them, and the more I questioned, the more I found and, of course, the larger the internal discomfort grew.
What I noticed was that the unspoken rules of how one was "supposed to" behave, think, feel, and value weren’t as true for me as I previously might have thought… Once the ball had started rolling it was too late to stop it. The rules I had been living by up to that point were now seen in a whole new light.
Even if I understood that my discoveries brought me closer to my real values, it wasn’t a positive experience to have that kind of awakening. What caused the most stress wasn’t the answers to my questions in and of themselves, but the fact that my previous compass was gone, the same compass that I had based my identity on. And all the while I was searching for my new compass, most of the people around me were still living by a compass similar to my old one. It was lonely and confusing.
The clarity I had enjoyed and taken for granted up to that point had now disappeared. I remember the moment when I realized “oh, so this is what it’s like to not know what you want?!” The realization was humbling.
How did I untangle myself from this situation and what did I learn in the process?
And, what would have made me pinpoint the misalignment and take appropriate action A LOT quicker?
I’ve summarized this in the following steps for you.
1. What emotions are coming up for you related to the feeling of “stuckness”?
Name the emotions. (Don’t skip this step as it’s very important, ESPECIALLY if you’re someone who relies on “rational thinking” a lot. Also, being able to name emotions is a real superpower.)
2. What specific thoughts triggered the emotions?
Investigate with curiosity what triggered each emotion specifically. Write them down.
E.g. the thought “I’ll never solve this problem!” causes fear. “No one understands what I’m going through” causes frustration and sadness.
3. Validate your experience.
This may be more or less easy for you depending on your level of self-compassion and how strong your inner critic becomes in these situations but give it a try.
E.g. “No wonder that I’m afraid, frustrated, feel lonely and sad if I think that I'll never solve this problem and feel that no one understands me.”
4. Allow your emotions to be there.
Don’t validate your emotions with the intention to make them go away.
How can you just allow whatever feelings you experience to just be there?
5. What are you attached to?
What are you attached to regarding the situation? This can be found out when you’ve identified your triggering thoughts. Then, dig deeper.
Often, people think they’re attached to money and status but it’s actually not as much as what the money and status SAY ABOUT YOU. Or more correctly; what you PERCEIVE they say about you.
What is that? That’s what you’re really attached to and afraid of losing.
6. What’s true?
-How true is it really that you risk losing what you’re attached to?
- If you couldn’t lose it, what would be different about this situation?
- What is one little thing you can do to take one step in that direction?
- What qualities or traits do you have to develop to go in that direction more fully or consequently?
- What support do you need and who can help you?
7. What’s the most non-harmful thing for you to do?
- What is one thing that you could do to show yourself some real love and self-compassion in this situation?
- If you truly loved and accepted yourself just as you are, what would you do next?
There are many layers to an onion. We often think that our values, opinions, and thoughts are our own when in reality, they belong to the world around us.
As when you peel a real onion, it doesn’t always happen painlessly.
If you’re already in the middle of this process; try to invite some patience and self-compassion as you work on identifying what fears, assumptions, and beliefs that are hiding underneath. Keep up the work but do it intelligently - this is the work that puts you in contact with your true self and it is worth the effort. Once you’ve removed what doesn’t belong to you, you’re free to make conscious choices from what really aligns!
Try these points and let me know how they work for you.
I wish I had assistance when I was going through this process. If you're currently overwhelmed by feelings of confusion and stuckness and wanting to align with your true self, check how I can help here!