“Motivation is garbage.” – Mel Robbins
Motivation and waiting to do what we want to do, what we desire, until we are “ready” is really, truly, bullshit, as Mel Robbins explains in this video. You can read all the self help in the world, but if you’re not willing to do what feels unknown, scary, or new, you’re going nowhere fast.
This applies whether you want to start your own business, lose weight for good, overcome an addiction, leave a bad relationship, move to a new city, find love, make more money, travel, or even just begin to wearing whatever you want.
You will tell yourself you are “stuck,” perhaps as a way to avoid the uncertainty that getting unstuck entails.
It is something we’ve all felt. We say we are stuck like it’s a fact, or a shackle to which we do not own the key. Really, “I’m stuck,” is a story, and a cop out at that. Often, it’s easier to stay just where we are, even if it is painful. Sometimes pain is easy. You are never truly stuck once you decide to unstuck yourself.
Making changes will always shake things up. Making changes in your life and your mindset will cause your relationships to change, and it will also require effort and work on your part, but what is the alternative? Living a life that feels like a prison and requires you regularly numb out just to get through it? Forget it.
Feeling stuck stems from a narrow focus, limiting beliefs, and a deeply seated comfort zone. Say, you’re stuck in a job you hate, but you feel “stuck” because you need health insurance, a steady paycheck to buy food and live your life and perhaps provide for your family, and you really like the doughnuts they bring in on Friday. Most people see their qualifications, scan job ads on the internet, see one or two qualifications they don’t meet, and rule out that option. It’s so much easier to not keep searching, to not even apply. Staying stuck is easy.
Back to the shitty job and the drawing board.
Maybe you’re in a relationship that’s been causing you more pain than joy for a majority of your time together, and you know in your gut it’s time to get out, but you have no idea how you’ll afford to live on your own, or maybe if money isn’t an issue, you’re afraid to be alone forever, or afraid to so called “fail” at another relationship. Maybe you think you’ll never meet someone new, so you might as well hold on to the one you have, even if the relationship is painful.
Maybe you feel stuck to a location, and you dream of living near the mountains, but the uncertainty of finding or creating a job, the challenge of finding the funds to make the move seem insurmountable.
Maybe you even feel stuck to your own addictions, whether that be your phone, cigarettes, alcohol, or celebrity gossip. You tell yourself you are stuck and you marry yourself to your bad habits because it is easier than actually deciding to do the work to change.
You Create Your Life and Your Beliefs With Your Thoughts. YOU OWN YOUR BRAIN. Take care of it like you would a beautiful home.
Everything in your life is a choice, or at the very least a result of your choices, and when you tell yourself you are stuck, you are choosing to believe that is the case. You are creating a story in your head, committing yourself to an exclusive relationship with your situation, and literally creating a neurological pathway that reinforces this belief. Confirmation bias means our subconscious will look for evidence of our beliefs– in other words, when we believe and tell ourselves we are stuck, we subconsciously look for all the reasons that this is true, and not surprisingly, we can always find what we are looking for, because, well, we’re looking for it!
The good news is, the reverse is true as well. When we tell ourselves we are free to choose and create our lives as we desire, our brains find evidence for that, too. We act out what we believe. Choose your beliefs wisely, because they will become your life.
It’s not easy to change your thoughts, because our brains also have a negativity bias to keep us safe, but they are, like, way overprotective and want us to panic when we see a shadow at dusk. We are smarter than this negativity bias, however, and can choose every day to look at it objectively, not necessarily believe it, and choose to believe something else.
Let’s go back to the shitty relationship. Maybe you are living with someone, and you own half a couch together. Maybe you rely on your partner to make rent, and you fear you won’t be able to afford living on your own and you don’t want to find a random roommate on Craigslist. I’ve been there, twice, and once you make up your mind to do something, you will find a way. You can create side gigs for yourself, take a second job, downsize, or eat rice and beans for a month. You have to trust yourself to figure it out and then you have to take the action you make it happen. No, you don’t need financial help from family and friends (though no shame if that’s an option.)
As soon as you make the choice that you are not stuck, and that you want to change, and as soon as you decide to believe it is possible for you, you will make it happen. If I can find a way to live on my own in one of the most expensive West Coast cities making $14 an hour with no savings, you can, too.
As soon as you make the choice to unstuck yourself, you send a message to your brain to begin looking for options, of which there are always multitudes. You can put the word out to people in your circle, too. People want to help, if you tell them you are looking for a place to live, they can get you in where you might not need a credit check, or have you looking at places before they are accessible to the public.
On the same token, if you want to move somewhere, you can begin putting that word out, and opportunities will start presenting themselves, and you’ll see possibilities to get your foot in the door.
Use Fantasy as a Tool
It is better to fantasize about what you want than to lament and worry about what you do not want. Fantasizing helps us visualize; we can see, smell, and feel all the details about what it’d be like to live in a warmer climate, being able to walk outside any time of year in a t-shirt, and smell Gardenias blooming. We can then begin to think about what our house looks like, how we spend our free days at the beach, and all of this triggers little reminders in our brains to look for these, and we create a scent track to our fantasies, and can pick up on the scent when it’s near us, and go towards that.
When you catch yourself imprisoning yourself with your own thoughts, saying things like, “I can’t afford to do that,” allow yourself to dream of having the thing instead. Allow yourself to picture living in the house, paying it off and owning it within five years, reading in the sunshine on the deck, planting tulips in the front yard, waking up and feeling the sun pouring in through the windows touch your skin as you pour yourself coffee in your beautiful kitchen.
Allow yourself to fantasize in a way that feels good as a tool to feel better. Who doesn’t want to feel better? Fantasy is a free tool to get you there. The key is to focus on the feeling the fantasy gives you, not the lack of having what you want. Enjoy the feeling, and find ways to carry that feeling with you in the present moment, like a good dream, and remember to always appreciate everything you have in the present. Without gratitude for what you have currently, you’ll never have more.
Get Out of Your Head!
If you’re struggling to change your thoughts (understandable if you’ve got years of practice telling yourself you’re stuck) take some action. Get out of your own head and do something.
Walk, dance, garden, do the dishes, call a friend, go swimming, make a collage, doodle, do some yard work, bake something, clean, play with your cat, give yourself a pedicure. Just take some action to take a break from overthinking.
Remember, feeling stuck is always just that: A FEELING! It’s ok to feel it and acknowledge it, but you don’t have to take its last name, honey.
Journal Prompts for When You are Feeling Stuck:
1.What would it take to get unstuck?
2. What is one thing you can do today to get unstuck?
3. What are you gaining from telling yourself you are stuck? Is it about staying in your comfort zone?
4. What scares you about making a change? Are these facts or fears? What are some possible outcomes that are delightful, and not scary? Will you choose to make a change, despite feeling afraid?
5. What’s the worst that can happen from you making a change? Would you move on and live with it?
6. What is the absolute best case scenario that could happen from you making a change?
7. Picture yourself on your deathbed, looking back at your life, at all the opportunities you took or didn’t take. What do you think she would tell you to do? When you look back on your life, what do you want to have experienced?
8. Notice where feelings of guilt, obligation, and pleasing others come up, as it relates to fear of selfishness. Are these feelings holding you back? Are you willing to let them go for the betterment of yourself and others?
9. If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do? What if you decided to view failure as a detour instead of a dead end?
10. Are you willing to accept failure as part of the learning process?
We all struggle with fear of change, fear of failure, and we get so comfortable with the way things are because we are fundamentally scared to shake things up. When we currently have a roof over our heads, company to keep, and food in the fridge, making any sort of change can trigger this threat that all of this surviving we’re doing could be lost in an instant. This is not typically rooted in reality, and if we want to do more than survive, we must take risks, face uncertainty, and stop waiting around to get motivated under perfect circumstances.
Even when our comfort zones cause us great pain, they are still comfortable because they are what we are used to. All of your favorite things and people were once unknown to you. We have to crack ourselves open to possibilities, and take the risk if we want to lead magnificent lives.
I dare you.