• Angela Highland

The Problem with Stuckness

The problem with being stuck is you usually don't know you are stuck. All you know is that something is off - you are just not feeling right. You don't quite care as much about much, and for every step forward you take, something comes along and knocks you back three. You can't seem to get ahead and you are starting to feel a bit invisible. Maybe no one cares anyway.

If things don't change soon, at best, you will become a victim, but the alternative is far more dangerous. Stay stuck too long and depression will set in and nobody has the time or the money for that.

Part of what is keeping you stuck is what is technically called "ruminating thoughts". I call it overthinking....hamsters in the wheel....monkeys on the bed. It's the main cause of what is non-technically called "analysis paralysis". There is so much chatter going on in that big beautiful brain of yours, you can't even think straight! It's emotionally, spiritually and physically exhausting.

The real question is...what got you stuck to begin with? Coaches don't normally like to dwell on the past - this is the therapist's wheelhouse, but sometimes, in order to understand what's pulling the strings behind some anxiety or insecurity that is holding you back, you have to Identify the trigger. Often, this is caused by someone else who has said something or done something to set you off. Amiright? When this happens you can almost feel the air go out of your balloon as the smile slides off of your face and you go inside yourself. Even if you get an apology from the assailant, it's too late, you are in the pit. So now what are you going to do? Sometimes that mud feels good. It's comforting and warm and someone once told you it was good for the skin, so you decide to soak. The longer you soak, the harder that mud gets and the harder it is for you to get out. You get the picture. You've stuck yourself.

What's a person to do? First priority is to - duh! get unstuck!! The key here is to understand what is driving the behaviors that got you in this place and work to change the narrative. If you are exposed on a regular basis to toxic people who make a habit of triggering you, guess what? You get to make a choice whether they stay or go. I personally vote for the latter, and that includes family (yes, you read that right). People like this don't change and you don't need their crap in your life.

There can be other causes or external events that can trigger you, but no matter how you got here, what determines your forward momentum is how you respond. You either get up, or you don't. Be warned though, staying down is one of the biggest risks you take as a career driven woman. Your personal stuckness will quickly infiltrate your professional brand and will greatly impact your work environment and how others do or don't respond to you. Do you know why? Because you can't hide it. You wear it all over your beautiful silk sleeve. I have found this can be a major obstacle for women and it directly feeds into a covertly biased conversation saying something like, "she's just being emotional" or "maybe its hormones" (saying it the nice way). This rude speculation hurts all of us in our efforts to be recognized on an equal playing field and it's just plain mean.

What about getting stuck in your career? Are you tired of the same old grind? Sounds like it's time to make a change. They say that what got you here, won't get you there and facing the deployment of new soft skills in an unfamiliar environment could send you running for the warm ooze. Even with the best of intentions your fears may get the best of you and make you an unwitting accomplice to self-sabotage. Your subconscious wants to keep you safe and has a sneaky agenda of its own. Under the right conditions your inner self can actually bypass your lucid intelligence and put you on autopilot! Now you find yourself repeating old habits because that feels good and easy, at least for a while, until you remember why you wanted to do something different in the first place. This creates a cycle that is designed to keep you exactly where you are at....STUCK! You develop unhealthy ways of showing up in the world that you become used to - it becomes your default mode. You want more, but your subconscious says "nope" and it creates an internal conflict. Ever wonder why YOU allow so much to be put on your plate? hmmmm? Because you are just going from one thing to the next without even thinking of how this is impacting you until you become so overwhelmed you shut down and plop down in the mud.

In some cases there are those of us, who have deep psychological trauma that needs to be worked through - BUT the rest of us need to shift into manual drive so that we can become aware of the war that is raging inside of us. We deserve better.

So, how do we pull ourselves up by our proverbial high heel straps and loosen ourselves from this stinky, muddy pit? You may need to call a friend who will throw you a rope, pull you out and hose you down. We all need friends like these. They may even sit with you and listen while you dry off and can give you perspective that you didn't see before. Pay attention to these people and keep them close - they are angels sent to comfort you, tell you to snap out of it and point you in the right direction.

If your work life has you down, then you will need to substitute new behaviors for old ones. When we are on autopilot we keep using old habits because we assume they are part of "who we are". For example: If you are hiding from an opportunity because you dislike speaking in front of people, you may rationalize that you've always been this way. Really? Have you? Or is this just a story you've been telling yourself to keep the fear at bay? Have you ever had a habit you had to break? Smoking? Biting your nails? Running 10 minutes late for everything? How did you resolve to break that habit? Most likely you changed the behavior and offset it with something that created an awareness around that habit that allowed you to break it. I had a friend once who tried the rubberband trick. She put a big fat rubberband around her wrist and anytime she felt like reaching for a cigarette, she pulled back and let it go. It was simply a reminder to her inner self that it would hurt to smoke. It worked!

Many bad habits get started as a way to cope with stress. If they work, we keep doing them but make no mistake - they are not part of who you are.

To get unstuck personally and professionally you've got to let go of old coping habits that no longer serve you. You must bring it into your conscious awareness so you can begin to try out new responses and see what works. Leaning into this stretch takes practice, but over time, you will unleash energy and confidence in how you show up every day.

When we become mindful we start to recognize the roles we play in our own circumstances and can focus on changing the old behaviors that trip us up. By building new and empowering habits you will supercharge your motivation and gain the courage to make positive changes and get unstuck.

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Call To Action Coaching & Consulting

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