Almost any time that we’re feeling stuck, we can move forward through a shift in our perspective.
Often, what gets us stuck in the first place– and what can keep us there, spinning our wheels– is our own thinking.
That’s right. The trap we are in is nearly always of our own making, and the way out is so close… we just can’t see it. Yet. We’re too wrapped up in the storyline that we’ve built. (We all do this. No judgment here.)
It can help tremendously to have an unbiased, supportive, skilled questioner to help you get unstuck (that’s one thing that we coaches are great at). But it’s also something we can learn to practice and self-coach.
For example, I have heard from my clients:
I’m feeling stressed and burned out, but that’s just life, right? It’s not like that’s going to change.
Yes, I’m unhappy at work. I have been for a long time, but there’s nothing I can do about it right now. I’m lucky to have a job.
My idea didn’t get approved. No one’s paying attention to my hard work and I am flailing in this new role.
My family’s schedule is crazy. There is no way I can take time for me.
Everybody knows that, as a busy entrepreneur, work-life balance is a myth. I’m tired of hearing about something that we all know is impossible.
I could never do that because…
I know what to do, I’m just not doing any of it.
In each case, assumptions are being made and feelings and actions (choices) follow. That doesn’t mean that the owners of these statements are wrong. How they’re feeling (stuck) makes perfect sense when you follow their line of thinking. The way they are living and working makes sense, too.
If you look at the whole picture, their stories add up. And that is why they seem so powerful and so… true.
The way that I often approach this (with my clients and also in my own stuck moments) is not with a question, but with a request for more information.
“Tell me why that’s true.”
Justifying your own thinking has a powerful effect. Eventually, if you stick with it, you’ll unwind the story that has you stuck. You’ll see another perspective or three. You’ll expose your excuses and your blind spots.
So let’s say that you don’t have time for basic wellness practices, even though you’re craving them. Tell me why that’s true.
Maybe you’re overwhelmed at work and thinking you don’t have what it takes to master your new leadership role. Tell me why that’s true.
Your over-full schedule is making you crazy, but you’re powerless to change it? Tell me why that’s true.
You’ve been trying to motivate yourself to leave an unfulfilling job for years, but you just can’t do it? Tell me why that’s true.
When you need to make a case for your own stuckness, it becomes clear that making a case for being stuck is what you’ve been doing all along. And that case has been keeping you right where you are.
Sometimes it’s immediately obvious what is not, in fact, true.
More often, though, it’s a slow unravelling of a well-built defense. Very often, what’s uncovered are assumptions that you weren’t even aware you were making. Beliefs and stories that aren’t all that relevant to where you want to go. Fears that are lurking underneath. Options you haven’t yet considered.
All of this takes time and patience, but questioning our own thinking is a practice and a habit worth cultivating.
So what is it that’s preventing you from creating more of what you want? Now, go ahead, and tell me why that’s true.