July 26, 2015

Getting Unstuck

Every so often I start to feel stuck, like I'm just spinning my wheels and making no progress. When I start to feel stuck old patterns reemerge. Negative self talk dominates my inner dialog. And the darkness starts to creep back in. At these times I like to mentally review everything I have done in my life.

I have lived a varied life and have done things very few people have. I have stood on the Bridge of the Starship Enterprise. I have filmed two independent films, one failed television pilot and appeared off Broadway. I have sang in Carnegie Hall and had snakes draped over me in front of wrestling fans screaming for my head. I have produced the largest a cappella festival in the United States and booked acts into clubs in New York City and Boston. I have walked over forty feet of hot coals barefoot and am an Amazon Best Selling Author. Most of these things I did before turning 30. Usually this is enough to tame the doldrums. But sometimes the stuck funks last longer.

Why would a person who makes his living as a motivational speaker and life coach share these feelings of insecurity and anxiety with you? We are supposed to know all the Jedi Mind Tricks and have all the answers. After all, who will visit a coach who himself has issues?

That is exactly why I am sharing this with you. Because many people believe coaches and counselors have no issues and challenges. People believe that we must be perfect. Some coaches cultivate this illusion. They can not allow themselves to be seen less than successful in the public's eye. I was this way as well.

The truth is, we are all human. We all have periods of time where we feel down or blue or stuck. We all have questions sometimes. Coaches have the tools to help shorten those periods but that does not mean we always use them. Coaches also know that everyone looks to them for the answers so we have a difficult time asking others for help.

When we get into these stuck places we climb on our hamster wheel and watch all the wrong movies. Everything we see, feel, and think reinforces the "hopeless" situation we find ourselves in. We become Chicken Little in our own lives.

Before we ramp up the hamster wheel and pop some popcorn for all those movies lets slow down and take a breath. Remember that events are neither good nor bad but the way we think about those events makes them so. The worst jails are formed in our own minds.

Here are three practices to help you get unstuck.

  1. Practice Breathing. When you feel stuck or you start to feel anxious stop what you are doing and/or thinking and take some 4-8-8 breaths.
    • Breathe in through your nose for a count of four.
    • Hold the breath for a count of eight.
    • Slowly release the breath through your mouth for a count of eight.
  2. Practice Gratitude. Write a daily list of the things you are thankful for. Try it for a week. Write a list of at least fifty things you are grateful for in your life. Try not to repeat things on the same list.
  3. Practice Contribution. I truly believe that our purpose is to serve. When you get in those stuck places you can take the focus off you by volunteering and/or helping others. I volunteer an hour of my time every week helping school kids with their reading skills. My friend Mark Sackett practices, and encourages everyone through his Art of Active Networking, to serve others using Give 4. Give 4 asks you to give four hours of you week in one or all the following ways:
    • Give of your ideas and talent to help someone in a struggle.
    • Give of your time. Volunteer, help a neighbor, or serve on a board of a non profit.
    • Give of your money. Donate to a crowdfunding campaign, buy the person behind you coffee, toss some coins into a cup of a someone on the street.
    • Give of your network referrals. Someone you know is struggling right now. Help them by using your amazing network of resources.
And above all …

Be gentle with yourself.

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