You’re smart and capable, but you’re also stressed out.
You pride yourself on managing all of your responsibilities and you’re good at it. But the truth is you feel anxious and overwhelmed and inside, you don’t feel good about yourself.
You’re struggling and even though you’ve tried to reduce and relieve and manage your stress, nothing really changes and you just feel stuck.
But you need something to change because you know your life shouldn’t be such a struggle.
And feeling like this is really starting to take a toll on your well being and ability to enjoy your life.
HERE’S THE GOOD
I know you might initially have some reservations about these bold statements because you’re discerning, which I appreciate, but I promise both of these are 100% true!
The fact is, both of these statements are backed by neuroscience. Yep, I’m a bit nerdy too.
And what’s most exciting about this good news is that once you understand how feeling stuck and getting unstuck works, it’s something you’ll be able to change with ease. Any and every time.
That’s why in my yoga therapy program, Make Peace with Stress, there’s a whole module dedicated to this super-potent life-skill.
HERE’S THE WHY
First, let me explain why it’s not your fault you feel stuck. Like your life can feel like being stuck on a hamster wheel of anxiety, overwhelm, and stress.
Your brain is wired to find and follow patterns.
For example, remember the first time you drove a car? It was challenging to manage everything, the steering wheel, gas and brake pedals, all the mirrors, the other cars, staying on the road.
But after some time, your brain figured out that every time you drove, all of these things would have to be managed and so it created strong pathways to make it easier and more automatic.
And now, you get behind the wheel and drive, sometimes barely paying attention at all, right? Have you ever arrived home and “forgotten” the commute? (Please do try to pay attention.)
HERE’S THE DEAL
Your life is full of these types of patterns. The way you use your body, like the way you sit, stand, walk, get in and out of bed, get dressed, get exercise, or not.
All habits like drinking coffee every morning, biting your nails, picking up your phone at red lights, eating fast, procrastinating, taking vitamins, and even worrying are patterns in your life.
You also have patterns in the way you think, like your political views, your likes, and dislikes, being indecisive or jumping to conclusions, seeing the glass as half-full, or half-empty.
Just about anything you do over and over again physically, mentally and even emotionally, becomes automatic in your brain, something you don’t even consciously choose, you just do.
And it’s super easy to forget that you have a choice about all of it.
HERE’S THE METAPHOR
Imagine a herd of deer that sleep on one side of a forest and eat wildflowers in a field on the other side. They have to walk through the forest to the field and back, twice a day.
The first time they trek through the forest it’s a challenge to manage the herd, to make sure they’re going in the right direction and to overcome obstacles like branches, brush, and rocks.
But after using the same route over and over again, a well-established path through the forest is created and then the deer just follow the same path and automatically end up in the same field.
This is exactly how patterns are established in your brain. When you do or think the same thing repeatedly, the neural connections strengthen and a well-established path is created.
This type of pattern makes life easier because you don’t have to relearn how to do everything you have to do every day, like get dressed, read, write or type, use a phone, and, perhaps, drive.
HERE’S THE THING
You also have well-established patterns in your brain that make your life harder.
Maybe you slouch, are impatient, judge yourself, ignore your feelings, jump to conclusions, assume the worst, and/or believe that stress is bad for your health. (It is bad, right? Nope.)
Like any pattern reinforced by repetition, these detrimental ones become automatic and even unconscious so you end up feeling stuck and unable to make a meaningful and lasting change.
Despite how it feels though, your routines, habits, thoughts, behaviors, attitudes, and therefore your experience of life are not out of your control.
The reason you feel stuck is because it feels hard to change, but it’s simple to change patterns in your life that are not working for you and even shape your experience to be what you want.
HERE’S THE TRUTH
Let’s be real, getting unstuck from well-established patterns in your life isn’t easy because, as I already mentioned, our brains are wired to follow our patterns.
But it is simple. And when you keep it simple and follow the steps, you can start to change the patterns in your brain, and that’s when a real shift actually happens.
First, know that feeling stuck is a sign that you have a pattern in your life that’s preventing you from achieving what you want and needs attention.
You already knew that—that’s why you’re here. ❤
Also, know that being able to get unstuck and take charge of patterns that aren’t serving you paves the way for personal growth and massive confidence.
HERE’S THE CATALYST
So how do you get unstuck and change the patterns in your life that aren’t working for you?
Let’s go back to the herd of deer. They’ve been repeatedly using the same path through the forest so it’s well-established and taking it is an automatic pattern, they don’t think about it at all.
Now imagine a wolf has found their path. (The anxiety of chronic stress can feel like this!) The deer are able to run and elude the wolf so they continue using the same path.
But after facing the wolf daily for a while they realize that they’re anxious and worried about it all the time. They realize that fearing the wolf and being in survival mode is wearing them down.
They acknowledge they need to make a change. (Like you, these deer are very smart.)
HERE’S THE HOW
There are only 2 simple steps to get unstuck and change a pattern that’s not serving you:
The truth is it may be difficult to choose a different way at first, but it won’t be for long and there’s a big benefit. One more use of the deer metaphor, I promise this will be the last!
Realizing the need for a new path (step 1), the deer have to deliberately choose the challenge of going through the forest without a path, tracking their direction, and overcoming obstacles.
HERE’S THE SHIFT
One choice at a time, the deer use the new route instead of the old way (step 2). One choice at a time, a new path through the forest is created and with repeated use becomes well-established.
As the forest grows and the old path isn’t used, it disappears. The deer don’t have to deliberately choose, they automatically use the new path which leads them exactly where they want to go.
This happens in your brain too.
Every time you take advantage of an opportunity to choose a new way of doing something, you strengthen a new path and weaken a pattern your brain has been automatically following.
For example here are some simple shifts you can choose to practice repeatedly:
HERE’S THE LOVE
Do you have any questions? Want to know how to get unstuck and move forward with a specific situation in your life? I’m here to help and I’m quite good at it. Comment below to get support.
It’s an honor to support you! This work is important to me because I know that making the world a better place starts within each of us and change happens one choice, one decision at a time.
This post is part of a series about what you need to know to stop struggling with stress so that you can be more calm and confident every single day.