Do you ever feel like YOU might be what’s ultimately blocking you from what you’re meant to be doing? That promotion? Playing on that team? Taking your business to the next level? You try and you try, you feel that you’ve been working so hard (and long!) at something, and every time you look your progress, there may be a bit of improvement or maybe you are right back where you were the last time you checked. Arg! If you can relate to this experience, I have good news and………well, news for you. The good news is; you’re reading the right blog to help get you through your slump! The other, actually great news, is that we need peel back some onion layers here – and you may not like the smell at first…..but you’re gonna love what we make with it! (Hmmm, not sure I used that analogy right…. moving along!)
The truth is, there are a few reasons why you have been on your version of a hamster wheel, and it may or may not be your time to jump off just yet. Ouch. Why might we actually “choose” (don’t you hate that word? So over used.) not to change? To be fair, this “choosing” is not conscious. You’re not consciously saying, “I am thoroughly enjoying not getting this promotion/making the team again this year.” That isn’t it at all. Consciously, it sucks! We want what we think we are capable of; what we feel we deserve. However, unconsciously, something else entirely could be going on.
You’ve heard someone described before, as having a “chip on their shoulder”, they are “hard headed”, “hard to work with”, blah blah blah. These are all examples of what may be clear to others of what it’s like to be around them, and yet is not exactly clear to them. These are all great examples of someone who may be stuck in a place like what I’m describing here. Their experience may be much different; they’re working hard, putting in so much effort, and others just aren’t pulling their weight. They may feel like they are proving themselves, and doing exactly what they’re being asked, and not getting the promotion. They may feel like they are early to practice and working hard the whole way through, but not making the team they want. Many of us have been there!
This is when we tell ourselves, and if you’re a client at JEM Wellness & Counseling, you have heard us say this to you…to “pause, step away, take a break” – whenever we are amped up and emotional, we are not thinking clearly or making rational decisions. Pausing allows us the opportunity to regulate our emotions and gain perspective.
Pausing or stepping way is a tool we have to develop on our own, because our society values and pushes moving quickly, being effective, fast action and quick results. This is the expectation, and it can cause us to keep our head down and our blinders on. I love some good focus time, but “head down and blinders on” means we only see two things, and that is the task at hand and the road beneath our feet.
We do not see the horizon (our goals), we do not see who’s around us (our resources), we do not see the impact of our actions (the rewards & consequences), and sometimes most critical, we are not aware of what we are ultimately doing (the outcome) and what/who is making us (our inner critic).
- Goals (what we are working toward)
- Resources (tools/people we need to accomplish our goals)
- Rewards/Consequences (milestones along the way; motivation)
- Outcome (benefit/cost of our action)
- Inner Critic (our inner bully!)
The first 4 areas may make a lot of sense, but why is the last one so important to be aware of?
The answer is simple, but sticky…stay with me, the hack is coming! It’s the messages from our past, the ones we heard from important figures in our lives, over and over-the positive ones and yup, the negative ones, that STICK. They are the ones that end up becoming core beliefs about ourselves and our capabilities. Let me say that again, another way. If you grew up hearing (most of the time) that you were smart, likable, a great swimmer, runner, and bubble blower, then you may grow up believing you are generally good at the things you do. You are likable, and worthy to succeed. When it happens that you do not excel at something, it can simply be that you did not do well, some healthy disappointment lingers, and you won’t hear the inner negative critic screaming this core belief, “You are such a stupid idiot! You never finish what you start, and when you do it SUCKS!”
This is not to say that many people from backgrounds where negative messages are perpetuated, do not surround themselves with positive messages and people, and grow up with a very positive view of themselves and outlook on the world. That happens for sure! More often, though, this story is true. The inner work happens later, through adversity, and the realization that efforts made through our own intuitive self-view are no longer enough, and support from a wise and trusted friend or therapist may be the best course forward. (Hence the longer runs on the hamster wheel.) Sometimes it just takes a little while to be ready to face those unpleasant truths about our pasts, how we treat ourselves (and others) and how that treatment impacts our future…..yup, our future success, and also our future selves.
Here’s the HACK! When you feel truly stuck, and frustration is bubbling up;
- PAUSE; step away, go to the bathroom, sit in your car, take the day off, whatever feels like to most loving pause you can take.
- Journal, meditate, breathe – gain perspective and become emotionally regulated.
- In the pause, take a good long look at your efforts so far and any patterns you see in your behavior or avoidance.
- Do you know what you goals are?
- Are you allowing others to support you or is one of your themes that you have to do it “on your own”?
- Are you acting/not acting from a place of fear or resentment?
- From a place of vulnerability, what can you “own”? – without shame, where is there room for growth that you are aware of?
- Write down the messages your negative inner critic is repeating (listening closely, you may be so used to it, you may not hear it anymore!), are those messages still benefitting you? Try confronting them with true and affirmative statements attached to you goal. These may be stuck in the neck of the funnel, slowing down your progress! Clear these critical messages out and allow your authentic self and creative thoughts to flow!
Check in on your goal weekly, including a PAUSE in each check-in. Before long, you’ll be cruising toward success with clarity and compassion for yourself!