So Sally can wait,
She knows it’s too late as we’re walking on by.
Her Soul slides away,
This sound was playing in the background one night as I was driving back home. It occurred to me that we’re already five months into the new year, and this got me thinking about the different milestones that I’ve hit at around the halfway mark of the year.
If you’ve read my humble pieces before this, you’ll already know that I’m halfway pursuing my Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. And I think that at this point, pursuing is the absolute right word to describe my relationship with my program now. It’s like all I ever do is pursue, and all it ever does is run away. There comes a time for many of us where we’ve felt that we’ve been run over by a stampeding heard. We’re lying on the ground, and we’re thinking to ourselves, “What in the world is going on?”.
Most of us would have similar experiences. Maybe you’re struggling at work, trying to meet your KPI’s or targets. Or perhaps you’re a working mom, trying to balance the rigors of working life and your family. Maybe even a fresh graduate, trying to make your way through a world where it sometimes seems that the whole world is moving in fast forward, and all we’re doing is trying to find out where the first step goes. Regardless of where you find yourself, that feeling of being stuck and going nowhere can be very frustrating. And when we do, we’ll find ourselves travelling back in time and ask ourselves those wonderful questions that make us feel less than fuzzy inside.
Why did I start this program, it’s so incredibly hard!
Why didn’t I get a safe 9-5 job (or 9, depending on my boss) instead?
Do I like pain? I must like pain.
Us humans have this fantastic ability to regret. What we could have done, should have done and all that jazz. We travel back in time and kill ourselves slowly, one big damning question after another. We’re filled with all those questions about how much better things could’ve been, if only we made that one other decision instead. But if we think about it, what good would all those questions do, other than to fill ourselves with regret. If there was something that could be changed, wouldn’t you have done so already?
And the truly strange thing? How cyclic all of this is. We start to travel back in time and ruminate when we feel stuck and meeting our sales target seems impossible. And when we feel stuck, our minds start wandering around to when all our troubles began. By then, we spend so much time ruminating and regretting, that you end up doing even less of what you were supposed to begin with.
Writing this article has been pretty interesting for me. There’s a ton on my plate at the moment, and I find myself more often than not, hitting the proverbial brick wall. So you can imagine how much time I’ve spent of late wondering what could’ve been or how things could have been different. But preparing for this piece forced me to wrap my head around the problems and to figure things out. That, and it gives me a great reason to avoid facing my work for just a little while longer. Hopefully, some of these steps will be able to help you get yourselves back on track.
So how do we unstuck ourselves? Step 1, grin and bear with it. Let’s be fair to ourselves here. For many us, we feel stuck because we perceive things too be too hard. Humans are fantastic at taking the path of least resistance. So anything that takes the least effort, that’s where we’re heading too. So when you’ve got that end of year financial report to complete, versus bonding with the couch whilst Game of Thrones blares on the TV, the choice becomes fairly easy. But remember that when the show ends, that report is still going to be there waiting for you. So it’s worth biting that bullet and getting the work that needs to be done, done.
The next thing you could try would be a trick that we use in therapy. The fancy term for it would be cognitive reconstruction, but simply put, we’re talking about taking control of our memories. There’s almost always more than one way to interpret our memories. Oftentimes, regret becomes our default setting especially when things aren’t going our way. But have you ever tried looking back at your past with kindness? Don’t beat yourself up! They say that hindsight is 20-20, and it makes it so easy for us to spot all the flaws and mistakes that we’ve done. But if you put yourself back in that situation, you probably made the best decision that you could have at that time. Given everything that you knew at that time and the resources that you had, you probably did. So be kind to yourself. The decision was made with your best interest in mind. There’s little more that you could do to change things. And truth be told, who’s to say if you chose another way, that things would’ve been any better?
Another technique that is often used to help clients come to terms with things that have happened is acceptance. As new age as it sounds, there are many times that regret and anger stems from the fact that we have an ideal image of how things are supposed to be. And when it doesn’t occur the way we want it too, we get frustrated. It is our assumptions of how things should be, must be, have to be that makes us rage on. But if we can try and accept things, maybe we can find some of that peace we desire.
The last step that you could try is take stock of where you are right now. If you’ve felt stuck for a long time, then perhaps its time to make a change. It may not be pleasant, but if it means the difference between eternal frustration and peace, perhaps the decision is clear. There are times in our lives where we just have to take a step back, and press the reset button. In the mean time, hang in there!
Don’t look back in anger,
I heard her say..