Stopped in your tracks is a good place to be

Do you ever feel like you are stuck?  I mean stopped in your tracks not knowing which way to go. The feeling and experience is one of uncertainty, perhaps fear, and definitely anxiousness if you are not used to such pauses.  In a world where we are rewarded and recognised for our efforts, achievements and contribution- to do the opposite can be perceived as negative. This may be why many of us don’t admit when we are stuck. Instead we come up with excuses, games, tricks of the mind and other self deluding manipulations.  I am writing today in support of the benefits of power of stopping in our tracks and to acknowledge this experience as a positive action, not one to be denied.

A starting place

So lets start with the assumption that you are in a place of ‘non-movement’.  How’s that for a twist.  You are not moving towards or away from anything. Simply in a place of not knowing therefore not acting.  Such a situation can occur in a myriad of ways. Let’s take for example your work.  You might be in a career path where the next step is not clear. You also have been happy working and thus not at all frustrated or disenchanted by where you have gone so far in your work.  You show up, do your job and get paid.  Simple formula, but one that lends itself to unconscious action of self denial.  You also develop a considerably padded comfort zone from within which to operate. Sound familiar? 

Then one day someone comes along and changes the world as you know it. Going with the work example, it might be a restructuring, new boss, change in procedures, shift in the market, industry regulation change. Whatever it is, you are no longer able to sit in your comfy place. Instead some response, some action is warranted. But what? This is where the stuck place gets interesting.  When external factors force you to shift.  You have no choice. Either you engage and participate in the change or the change will move you on or out.  You can be active or passive. It is your choice. The subsequent consequences are then yours as well.

Three magic lenses

Taking the above example in mind, along with others similar, you can make the most of your stuck place. How you might ask?  By consciously being aware of what is happening both to you and within you.  There are three basic lenses from which you can see your situation.

First lens. 

What is happening that is entirely beyond my control?

Second lens. 

What is happening that I can possibly influence and affect?

Third lens. 

What is happening that I can directly change and impact?

These three questions quickly help you sort out where and how to direct your energy. It seems wasteful to get all worked up about matters in which we have no control. Yet how many of us do this? I am sure all of you. I know I do on occasion! 

Awareness is key

The key here though is to catch yourself and then shift your focus away from the trigger.  For example, consider the announcement that the company your are working for is merging with another.  Initially such an announcement is a shock.  And yes as noted in psychological paradigms you are likely to go through some adjustment. Yet above the emotional response is an objective sorting out that you can do in this stuck place. You can stop and step back as observer to the situation and look at it for what it is. A fact that is non negotiable and not changing, at least at this point in time. (Of course it is possible that a deal could unwind). You have control over how you respond.

Self empowered choice

This is where you go to the next step. You consider your options before taking action. This is a privilege of being in the stuck place. In the absence of further information you make your best attempt to consider what you can do before you choose what you will do.  From this type of perspective you are taking back some of the power lost when circumstances are beyond your control. You are now choosing a course of action that is within your power.  You may or may not progress on what you identify. This is the beauty of staying in the stuck place. Until you take action it really is just a self dialogue and assessment. Not bad. You have control over where to focus your attention and action.

Real action, real results

Then there is the place of real action leading to real results.  Not only can you formulate a direction but you can take action in this direction that will be favourable to you.  In some way you are measuring the odds and going where the chance is greatest for success. Why would you want to do this? Well for one, the expenditure of energy will get you a far greater return. Having such impact and validation in your choice will also boost your self confidence and commitment to further action.  As you make decisions in this direction you also begin to move out of your stuck place. You may of course land in a new one but at least there is a conscious shift as opposed to an unconscious reaction.  You have control over what actions you decide to take.

A valuable skill

I believe that in our changing times where the world around us keeps shifting it is important to develop the skills to both be stuck and become un-stuck.  The irony is that to start you need to accept and embrace the place of being stuck.  This may be hard. It is tempting to distract ourselves through unnecessary conversation, blame games and pointless actions. Also being clear about being in your stuck place allows you to know with whom you wish to engage and not engage.  Relating to others becomes a healthier experience.  It is easy to get trapped in the downward spiral of denial and frustration of people who stay in the first category. Those who want to battle what they can not change will fire up with emotions yet also wear you out. You navigate through these encounters.

Trick one

So here’s the real trick.  When you are in a stuck place it is a time for personal regrouping. By this I mean gathering your thoughts, feelings, ideas and perspectives on the situation at hand. You get to do a mini audit of where you are at in your work or life depending on the situation. As you take stock you get to clear out what no longer serves you and focus on what does. Sounds selfish but it is not. For if you also keep in mind that by taking this initiative whilst not moving you will be setting up a better way of being with others. Your clarity and sense of direction will form a basis for more authentic choices, experiences and conversations.  Just watch.

Trick two

“But how do I do this?”,  you ask.  Another secret. You check with yourself. You don’t ask anyone else for their opinion, ideas or thoughts. You stay in your place of non movement and self dialogue. As you sort through what comes up for you it is then your choice how much attention you place on each.  At another level you also can apply a few more filters. It is one thing to think about it all. It is another to check in with how you feel. It is OK to feel! It is in fact more than OK. The feelings that come up will be like a measure for effect. From your own sense of what feels right and not, you gauge the situation, the action and the possible outcome for you.  A byproduct is that you feel better about what you do decide to do.  Others also see you as clearer and more direct in your interactions. This type of exchange will set you up for success far more than if you don’t know what you want to do or what matters. The source of your knowledge always is within you. It’s up to you to access it.  It is being in the stuck place of no movement that you get the opportunity to do so!

The only thing left to do is practice. If you need support then you at least are the one deciding what and who will help.

So here’s to getting stuck. And of course here’s to eventually getting un-stuck!