The gift of being stuck in a rut

© Jenn Shallvey

© Jenn Shallvey

I get like this sometimes. Going along all fine and then boom I wake up and realise I am stuck. How did that happen? When did I let myself switch back to autopilot and put the brakes on. Seriously that is how it feels.

As I go through the motions of I feel like it’s really a scene from Groundhog Day the movie. If you have not seen that one it’s a classic feel good movie. I like the fact that the grumpy cantankerous weatherman character has to relive his day until he gets the point. The point being life is about living with kindness, respect, appreciation and joy. Get it.

Yeah I get it. And I also feel like some days it’s Groundhog Day. 

Well the first step is actually realising and accepting I am in a rut. Not easy. Usually aspects of your life or work have to take a dive before you realise that the rut is in full swing. This is what happens to me sometimes. It is also called avoidance, procrastination, caving into fear. You name it. I admit it. Despite all my learning, training and professional practice over the years I still fall into this place.

On days like this the response that calls me is to roll over in bed, pull the covers up and go back to sleep. Or on other days just sit on the couch and bingewatch some Netflix TV show I just discovered and can’t believe I ever missed. On more constructive days then I might be a bit more self caring and go for a walk or a swim and take a really long time or linger over lunch with the newspaper from the weekend reading articles that add no value but take up time distracting me.

And that is it. In my rut I am a master at distraction. The art of distraction enables us to avoid the big really scary things we truly want to do. That is me. I have big things I want to do with my life. I do. I have for as long as I can remember. What they are in detail though keeps changing. Yet somewhere deep inside of me always is this burning desire to help people. Applied and channeled this desire becomes my work which when I get a chance to do it is something I love. Yet the way I work, the way I do what I do keeps evolving. So unfortunately the rut comes up.


Because my passion and desire is not met by the past ways that I do what I do. So I need to change. And then in the transition of changing there is no ground nor anything really to hold on to. I am free falling in the change groping for a new way. I know it is there but not clear yet.

I have become a master at transition and change within myself. I work through iteration after iteration. I often wonder why I am like this when there are many I know who are happy not even opening up a personal development book. It’s me.

Back to the rut.

The first key is to respond not react. When I react then I let my emotions take charge and I spiral into one of many.

When I respond then the choices I make are conscious and connected.

My first response is to accept. Yes accept. I know the rut. So I sit with it and accept it. How? Well it might be actually sitting in reflection and letting myself consider the rut as something I am experiencing for a reason. Other times I acknowledge and then just get on with my day, the plans / tasks I have to do. In other words I carry on life knowing that in the background the tape I am running is not the one I like. It is still the one I know and accept.

I allow time. Time to be. This is the absolutely hardest part.  Yet over the years as I cycle through change and transition I learn new ways to be. I learn to sit with the discomfort and uncertainty more. I learn to be kinder to myself. I learn to love myself warts and all. Because that is what the rut does. It teaches me to love my self unconditionally.  

Why is this so important? And how in the world can I possibly say there is purpose and goodness in being stuck?

Two things.

Firstly it is in the absence and space that I inevitably have that the creative part of me reawakens. There is a metaphorical space to breathe again, a chance to emerge. I know.

Secondly it is in the contrast and the experience that I then also learn to understand and accept others. The emerging empathy goes a long way in the work I do with others going through similar experiences. I understand.

So here’s to embracing the slow and fast times in life knowing that if you get stuck you will eventually become unstuck. Well at least that’s my experience.