What To Do If You’re Feeling Stuck
Have you ever felt stuck in life? Have you ever tried and tried and yet seemed to make no progress at all? Or have you ever taken 2 steps forward but 3 steps back in a seemingly never-ending cycle on the same thorny issues in your life?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re not alone. Millions of people have felt the same way – including many very successful people.
But the important thing to realize is that just because you might be stuck now – or just because you might have been stuck for a long time on a particularly irksome issue in your life – does not mean you will be stuck forever. As human beings, we have to understand that being stuck has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Now when you’re “feeling” stuck it doesn’t seem like there will ever be an ending insight. I completely understand this. But that is just your emotions talking. Being stuck is just a process like anything else.
In my life, there have been times in the past where I felt stuck on some pretty important things for a very long time. On one particular issue for example – a professional fight that lasted nearly 5 years and that involved a lot of money – I felt as though it would NEVER end. But then one day it did – and suddenly. (And, by the way, it ended in my favor.)
On other issues in my life I’ve experienced times when I’ve felt stuck too. But what helped me get unstuck during these moments were a few important things I’d like to pass on to you if you’re currently feeling stuck or ever get stuck again in the future.
- Recognize both the direct – and indirect – lessons you can learn from being stuck. These lessons often give you the opportunity to grow your patience, resilience, and toughness, among other things.
- Create a short written strategy for getting “unstuck” and take it to a group of your wisest and smartest friends and colleagues. Ask them to not just console you – or tell you how unfair it is that you’re stuck – but to look over your strategy and give you honest advice on if you’re going in the right direction.
- Stop meditating on the fact that you’re stuck. Even if you think it’s the adult thing to do – to think or worry endlessly about what you’re facing – it is not helpful, will release unnecessary cortisol into your body, and have unintended consequences in other areas of your life. Instead, meditate on the things that are working in your life and trust the strategy you have put in place.
- Take action. Use your strategy to take concrete and positive steps forward in your life. If you’re in a situation where somebody might be temporarily blocking you, continue to push forward with hope in your heart and a smile on your face – it is only a matter of time until your issue will be resolved one way or another (hopefully in your favor!).
While all of this is easier said than done, if you start to do these things whenever you’re feeling stuck you’ll have an informed plan of action to move ahead; you’ll have a better attitude while you’re moving ahead; and you’ll gain valuable lessons that will help you the next time you feel stuck in life.
Who Do You Think You Are?
Who Do You Think You Are?
The question “who do you think you are?” cuts to the heart of our self-image and self-confidence. It cuts to the heart of the goals we set for ourselves and the expectations we have for our lives.
Who we think we are is often more important than who we actually are. Let me repeat: who we think we are is often more important than who we actually are. But why?
Our perceptions and expectations of and for ourselves determine how we act, and if we have good perceptions and expectations we will act in ways consistent with the good that we think we deserve. On the other hand, if we have mediocre perceptions and expectations of ourselves we will act in ways consistent with the mediocrity we think we deserve.
In other words, the question of “who do you think you are?” is more about perception than reality. And in the case of self-image and self-confidence, perception is greater than reality.
We are all familiar with Muhammad Ali saying “I am the greatest” so often that most of us probably believe that he was the greatest boxer of all time. What Ali understood is that his self-image and self-confidence was determined by his self-perception. And his self-perception caused him to speak and behave in ways that made him better, bigger, and bolder than his “normal” or “default-self.” His self-perception of greatness became a self-fulfilling prophecy in his life.
Of course, other athletes like Michael Jordan have done this. They’ve used their words to build themselves up and create their own self-perception and self-fulfilling prophecies – to great success. They’ve built the “inner-them” so strongly that the “outer-them” started to look like an exact replica.
But the question is, have you followed these athletes’ examples in your own life? Have you built your “inner-you” to the point your “outer-you” surrenders to it every time?
That is an odd thing to ask yourself because most of us assume that, for the kinds of lives we live – and the kinds of professions we’re in – we would be strange to talk or think about ourselves as being great. After all, isn’t this thinking only supposed to be for athletes or naturally talented or gifted people? Wouldn’t others think it strange if they caught us literally speaking (or thinking) great things about ourselves for the strategic purpose of “building our inner-selves?” If you were an accountant or post office worker, wouldn’t others thing it weird for you to say “I am great accountant, # 1 at my firm” or “I am a great postal clerk, I always deliver the mail on time with a smile.”
But despite what others’ might think of you, what matters more is what you think of you. Your life will almost always move in the direction of your most dominant thoughts – and your dominant thoughts are determined by the words you speak over yourself and the self-perception you have for your life. If your dominant thoughts and self-perception are good, you’ll inevitably move in that direction regardless of where you currently are. So even if the perception you have of yourself does not match your reality at the moment, you can over time bend reality in the direction you want in your life.
I know the naysayers might say this is arrogant or that this gives people false hope. What if, for example, people think they are great but do not have the skills, work ethic, or habits to manifest that greatness?
This question misses the point. The reality is that people’s work ethics and habits will start to line up with their self-perceptions bit by bit. Why? Because somebody who thinks they are great at what they do – or who wants to become great at what they do – will pursue any and all means to become great. They will pursue any and all means so that their perceptions become their reality.
But most people don’t think this way. They do not speak great words about themselves, think great thoughts about themselves, and as a consequence do not tap into the greatness within them. You don’t have to live like this. You can choose self-perceptions that create the reality you want and deserve.
Why You Matter: Part 2
WHY YOU MATTER: PART 2
Your self-worth, your identity, your confidence, and your happiness are all tied to the notion of whether you feel like your life matters or not. If you do feel like you matter, life is good. You’re flying high. You’re moving forward with goals and dreams and plans. You have places to go and people to see. If you face challenges, you just dig in so that you can overcome or defeat them. When you feel like your life matters, you become a stronger and more victorious version of yourself.
On the other hand, if you don’t feel like your life matters, life is a chore. It is hard. It brings pain and sadness and setbacks. You feel stuck and like nobody is there to help you. You try to escape into distractions to take your mind off of things. When a major obstacle heads your way, you become very doubtful about your ability to withstand it and as a result live in unnecessary fear and anxiety. You live as a weaker you.
Obviously of the two choices you can make about how you feel about yourself, choosing to FEEL that your life matters will set you on a better course. And so let’s talk about some of the specific things you can do to keep yourself on this better course.
First, after recognizing you will never matter to some people but will always matter to some others, you’ll need to let this sink in over and over again until it becomes a fact you embrace on a visceral level. Knowing you have a tribe of support – and a tribe of opposition – will eliminate the stress and uncertainty of thinking you have to get approval from every tribe out there to feel like you matter. You don’t. There is a tribe there for you.
Second, you’ll need to give up trying to please and impress people because you can never truly feel like the real you matters unless you become comfortable in your own skin. You’ll have to give up thinking that the image you’ve created for yourself – online, at work, or with people you want acceptance from – is the only way to matter (or the best way to matter or a primary way to matter). The more you try to impress others, the less authentic you’ll become. The more you try to impress others, the less you’ll feel like the real you matters.
And third, you’ll have to surround yourself with positive people who have the same understanding of themselves as you do. These will be people who not only accept you no matter what, but who also accept that they matter no matter what. You’ll want to be around these people because they are walking in their own authenticity and confidence and being exposed to them will exponentially raise your own sense of self-worth.
If you commit yourself to choosing this better course for yourself, you can more consistently feel like you matter. You can start to be more comfortable with who God actually created you to be, not what society tells you that you should be. And you can walk in a greater sense of freedom and emotional and mental health and security than you’ve ever known. If you choose to believe that your life matters, you will only benefit from it.
Why You Matter: Part 1
WHY YOU MATTER: PART 1
You matter more than you think. Your existence is important. It’s strategic. It’s meaningful. You have been created for a purpose. But your purpose is so much more than what you do for a living or the mountains of achievement you build up for yourself.
You see, titles and achievements are easy substitutes for purpose. They’re easy substitutes for feeling good – or not feeling good – about yourself. They’re easy substitutes for the things that really matter in life.
At the end of the day, the most important achievement you can ever earn is simply being the realest – and truest – version of yourself. An authentic. An original. A person who knows they matter simply because they exist. A person who knows God would not have created them unless He had something special in mind.
But so often many of us don’t feel that we matter – or don’t feel that we matter that much – when we compare our lives to the lives of others or to the expectations we have for ourselves. We think, we have to be like this other person – or we have to achieve certain things in our own lives – in order to justify taking up oxygen on the earth.
In my own life, this was true for many years. I had to be Superman. I had to get this degree or that title. I had to earn that amount of money or join this group. I had to be Superman not because I wanted to be, but because I subconsciously convinced myself I had to be in order to really matter to the world (and to myself).
Have you ever felt the same way about your own life? Have you ever felt like you have to do something MORE in order to feel like you matter? Have you ever felt like unless you accomplish certain things that certain people won’t accept you (or that you won’t accept you)?
If you have, you’re not alone. Millions have felt this way too. But here’s the simple reality: SOME PEOPLE WILL NEVER ACCEPT YOU FOR ANY REASON. You can go from rags to riches, from unknown to pop star, from janitor to CEO, from being a backbencher to being an All Star, and some would still dismiss, reject, ignore, or oppose you. They could do this for legitimate or dumb reasons, but no matter what you do or become it won’t ever be good enough for them (even if you’ve accomplished more in your own life than they have in theirs).
But there is some good news in all of this too: SOME PEOPLE WILL ACCEPT YOU NO MATTER WHAT. You could fail or stumble, be weird or an outcast, or do or be myriad other things, and some people would still approve of you, welcome you with open arms, and support you. Please, please take some comfort in this. There are some people you will ALWAYS matter to even if you don’t feel you matter to anybody.
But regardless of whether you matter to some people or don’t matter to others, understand this: most of the people you come across in your life won’t be solidly in one group or another. They’ll simply be too caught up in their own lives to pay attention to what’s going on in yours. And that’s perfectly okay because there is a valuable lesson in this.
Once you learn that you don’t have to prove anything to people you will never matter to; once you learn that there will be some people you will always matter to; and once you learn that most aren’t paying attention to you, you will start to breathe a deep sigh of relief. You will come to a greater realization that your inherent worth is more than the sum of all of your activities or accomplishments. You will come to realize that your inherent worth has nothing to do with the expectations society set for you or that you may have previously set for yourself.
And you will come to a place where you begin to more consistently realize that you matter, which will bring profound mental and emotional benefits. It is in this place where you can begin to find the things that really matter, which we will discuss in Part 2 of this series.
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