IT HAPPENS TO EVERYONE
At some point or another in life, everyone experiences a sense of feeling stuck in a rut of some kind. It could be stuck in a dead-end job or relationship, with ongoing health issues, in an endless loop of mental arguments about some issue in life, or stuck in a painful past experience. No matter how we got stuck or what it is we’re stuck in, stuck is stuck, and the way out of stuck is the same.
Whenever we’re feeling stuck, closed in, limited, or even depressed, there are three simple things we can do immediately, to begin to turn that around.
Successful people use this process in some form, daily. Be careful not to underestimate the power of these three things in your life. If we apply them, they work. Every time.
THREE SIMPLE THINGS WE CAN DO IMMEDIATELY
First: change your physiology. Our posture and body language are key to helping us shift how we feel, and even who become in life. Changing our physiology signals to the rest of us that we’re taking charge now. We, the higher command central of our physical, emotional, and mental selves, has stepped in and will now decide how we are going to feel. We are no longer leaving our most valuable asset, our life, to the passing whim of circumstance.
The simplest way to take charge of how you feel, begins by becoming aware of your breathing and posture. Imagine a warrior posture:
Photo of Russell Crowe, in the film Gladiator
Then, imagine defeatest-oriented posture:
Simulate both, then return to the warrior posture. See how it feels to stand like Russell Crowe in Gladiator :-):
Shoulders back, chest out, spine straight and strong, chin up. Breath in deeply several times, then stretch your arms up and overhead, reaching as far as you can…reaching for the stars. Then, continuing with arms outstretched as far as they can go, slowly lower them to shoulder height, breathing and stretching deeply, as you bring you arms back to your sides.
Now wait a minute. Did you actually do this or just read it? If you haven’t done it yet, please, for your benefit, take one minute and go do the simple and brief stretching, breathing, and posture experiment in the paragraph above.
OK, now your physical self should be more relaxed, yet alert and energized than it was just a few minutes before. The moment your shoulders slump, straighten and stretch them back again, and in these super simple steps, you have shifted your physiology, and are likely feeling the positive impact in your body and psyche.
Beyond this moment, and as you go throughout each day, start to notice your body language and posture right now. With your attention turned upon yourself, chances are you immediately shifted something. Perhaps it was your posture, or softening your face from a frown. Perhaps you took a deep breath and then straightened your back and tightened your abdominal muscles.
Tuning into the language of your body, as well as that of others, you will begin to notice things you may never have noticed before. Awareness is the first step toward elevating anything. As we become increasingly aware of just how clearly our body speaks to us and others, we can begin the conscious crafting of ourselves and our lives to be as we want it to be, determined from the inside out rather than ruled from the outside in.
Second: change your focus. Though we’ve all heard all our lives about the concept of glass half empty or glass half full mentality, one of the problems with these old memes is that we tend to take them for granted. We think we know them, (“oh yeah, I like that quote…it’s so true…”). But in reality we treat them like the distracted parent, murmuring “that’s nice dear”, to something a child is sharing, while not really hearing. Yet, if applied, (not just quoted by rote or fancy), they work. The key word here is focus, isn’t it? So, when we begin to focus on what we’re thinking, rather than being an idle observer, we can consciously direct our thoughts to create the lives of our dreams.
“Most people focus on what they don’t want, and that’s what they get.” … Tony Robbins
Tony Robbins talks about experiencing how race car and defensive driving instructors teach you to look where you want to go, instead of what we instinctively tend to do: look at what we might be crashing into. In driving, where we look is where we go. Same thing in life. If we look to where we want to go, we naturally head in that direction. If we’re looking at the past or looking through fear at what we don’t want, chances are that’s where we end up: exactly where we don’t want to be. What we focus on is where we go in our lives, so if things aren’t working, step back, reflect on what you do want to happen…on possible solutions, and then focus on that.
If we’re out walking or hiking, we may be enjoying the scenery, but overall, we are looking in the direction we are going. We are not looking over our shoulder while moving forward. Same thing with our daily and subsequently, overall life focus. Focus on what you want, then take steps toward that each day.
Like Will Smith, playing Chris Gardener in the movie based on his life: The Pursuit of Happyness, relentless focus on what you do want, is the path to achievement. In ‘Pursuit’, Smith as Gardner, rallied forth even in the darkest despair. By keeping sight of his goal, he achieved it. Focus on where you want to go and you will get there.
Third: change your story. It never fails that after speaking or presenting on this topic someone will invariable come up after the engagement, commend and thank me, and then proceed to give some excuse or explanation as to why things aren’t working out in some area of their life. It is extraordinarily rare to have someone come up and say, “Gosh, I realize I’ve been repeating the same ol’ story and so guess what I’ve gotten?!”
“The same ol’ stories happen in my life, and I see that complaining about them only serves to keep them happening!”
A dear friend of mine often laughs at herself for having been uncoordinated all her life. “I’ve always been clumsy”, she’ll say. Sound familiar? It’s a fairly common one. But consider that for many of us, the thought was birthed in childhood via comments from others or thoughts from ourselves that formed during this most uncoordinated time of life. For some of us, that meme stuck with us and we got stuck in it. I wonder how many times over the years we’ve repeated it or heard it? That’s ominous to consider isn’t it? But these things—even old crystallized thoughts —from childhood can be transformed into a higher form of being. E.g., “I’ve always been clumsy”, could shift to, “I used to be clumsy as a child, but I’m growing out of it now.”
This isn’t about avoiding truth or reality. Remember the glass half empty is true. AND, the glass half full is also true. So now, consider some of the things you’ve heard yourself say multiple times over the years. We all have these automatic quips, phrases, and self-hypnotic mantras we’ve recited for years.
Some people think this process of constantly calling ourselves to attention by paying attention to our physicality, emotionality and mentality is tiresome or difficult. Even that is an old meme that responds very well to this three-fold process. Instead we can look at it as a game, a challenge…as something fun. We could call it the “catch me if you can” game, and see how much we can catch ourselves in the new patterns as well as the old, and when it’s the latter, we can have fun turning it around.
And here’s the central and essential truth in this: every effort we make toward self-betterment, is effort well-invested.
The next time we get stuck, we can pull ourselves out by changing these three things; and the next time, and the next. The more we pull ourselves out, the less we get stuck, the stronger we become, and the better we get at avoiding the pitfalls, for an all around a win-win-win with ourselves.
So next time you feel stuck in any area of life, try this simple but powerfully effective 3-Step formula which I call The Triangle of Change:
- Change your physiology
- Change your story
- Change your focus
Change these and you will change your life! It works. It really works!
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