I’ve been noticing lately the number of people who seem to feel “stuck.” Their lives aren’t going the way they had once hoped. They see the distance between where they are now and where they’d like to be, and perceive a huge chasm. Sometimes that distance seems insurmountable.
It started me thinking about what gets us stuck and keeps us that way. The specific things that get us stuck probably vary as much as the people who experience that feeling. However, I think that the commonality is in how we think and speak about our situation.
For instance, when we talk about having a problem with something, we are defining what we think an obstacle is. That gives it form and boundaries. But it also tends to take it out of being “a process.” If you were to think about all possible feelings about a situation as a river that flows past you, you might notice that you feel happy, sad, anxious, worried, scared, or angry in a particular situation. Those emotions can become an obstacle to forward movement when we stop them, solidify them and term them as a problem. Then this emotion which was just flowing by in the situation may be stopped and labeled as “my anxiety about this situation” or “my depression.” Not only does it become a problem, it can become a part of your identity.
Life tends to move and flow around us, and often we try to capture what is happening. It’s like putting your hand in a running brook. Your hand gets wet, and the water flows around it. You “capture” some small amount of water, which you use to represent the stream. But if that’s where we stop our understanding of the stream, our perceptions of the where the stream is going will be very different.
The same is true of watching a movie and pausing it so that you see only one frame. That doesn’t give you a clear picture of the story. Nor does singing a song, then stopping to hold a note and not going further really reflect that song. When you STOP a process, it changes your perceptions of it, and, may make it less rich, less satisfying and may make it lose the potential for what it COULD be.
I believe that the same is true of our lives. When we stop the PROCESS of living and label something a problem or an obstacle, it changes the whole picture. And it STOPS us. It keeps us stuck. If we can keep what we’re experiencing in our lives as an active process, it can keep us from getting stuck. That’s why coaches often talk about challenges instead of problems. As a coach, I’ll often ask “What is challenging you right now?” Although it might be something my client perceives as a “problem,” my hope is that by defining it as a challenge to be met, it will keep the process active–a challenge to be met and then you move on.
Our language is critical in determining how we think about things and what happens. For example: What would happen if you said “I’m stressing myself about this situation” instead of “this situation has too much stress?” If you change what you thought of as a problem into a VERB, it gives it movement. And by having movement you can keep from getting stuck. Think about when your car is at risk of being stuck in the mud. Often if you can KEEP MOVING–slowly and steadily–you can avoid getting stuck. The same is true for your life. Just keep moving, step by step, inch by inch.
(c) 2012 Linda S. Pucci, Ph.D. All rights reserved.