So…you’re driving along on a back road after a pretty intense rainstorm.
The sun is just starting to show signs that it is going to stick around and dry things out a bit, but the ground is still hanging onto a lot of the moisture. And then you see it…there; off to the side of the road. It is a car that was turning down that dirt road and now, sure as can be, it is deeply stuck in the mud. Wheels are turning and sputtering up more slaps of soft dirt as the poor driver continues to give it more gas and back up.
Whether actually or metaphorically speaking; we have all been in the same position – stuck, unable to move forward or backward, realizing this is not where we wish to stay but unable to figure our way out of the situation we’re in. It is a pretty uncomfortable place to be because we know that we don’t belong here, but we don’t know how to get ourselves out of the spot we’re in.
For many of us, this leads to more frustration or spinning our wheels before we can find a way out – translating into even more discomfort and frustration before we see the light of day again. Yet, there seem to be some people who either don’t appear to get themselves stuck (although in reality, this is highly unlikely since getting stuck is a very ‘normal’ occurrence, at least some of the time, in everybody’s life) or they tend to be able to find a way to get back on track easier than the rest.
But why? Why are some people more able to get themselves unstuck in these situations while others design ruts that resemble coffins with the sides kicked out of them? I may have stumbled upon what it is that rut-avoiders do to help them move forward that works to keep them from digging themselves deeper into the mud. And although this is no proven road map for keeping yourself out of the mud, you may just find that it helps you get out of it much quicker the next time.
1. Take a Deep Breath – I have found very few things in life can’t be improved to some degree, by stopping, standing still, and taking a few deep breaths. This ‘forced’ change in motion, results in a change in perception EVERY time. And with a modified perspective, come options that most likely were overlooked.
2. Reflect – This is a bit more complicated than just taking a deep breath but it follows directly on the heels of it. As soon as we have ‘cleared’ out all the garbage in our mental and emotional recycling bin, we want to gradually bring it back into our focus and take a look at it minus all the jumbled emotions that were involved just moments before. Now that we are able to 'star‘ fresh’ without all the clutter that was in the way just moments ago, we can focus on what things were working, not only on what wasn’t working.
3. Assess– As part of the reflection process, we need to evaluate or assess where we are in our lives. It sounds simple, but sometimes it is like seeing the forest for the trees. Since it is our life we are looking at, we have a lot of emotional connection and involvement with it, making it quite difficult to be able to assess effectively. If there is a support person you trust in your life who can provide you with a second pair of eyes and an honest point of view, you may bring them along during this part of the process. 4.
Plan – Once you have an honest and accurate assessment of where you are in the process, you can begin the planning phase and chart your course for how to move forward. Remember to provide yourself with words of encouragement for the baby steps in the right direction too…many huge journeys are not much more than a series of baby steps. It is the direction and momentum that matter more than the size of the steps. Again, don’t hesitate to call upon a supporter who can cheer you along.
5. Move – Remember that motion and direction are paramount here. As long as you’re moving, you’ve broken free. Take a moment to realize you’re moving again, breath and then, place one foot in front of the next “right, left…right, left” and keep moving. Hey look; you’ve pulled yourself out of your rut and managed to find a way out of the mud. Congratulations!