As I’m writing this, I’m sitting on a huge deck, overlooking an incredible view. We’re visiting the Kruger Park this week with Andrew’s parents and staying at a beautiful lodge just outside the Crocodile Bridge entrance gate. If you’re in South Africa, you might know Ngwenya Lodge, outside Komatipoort.
We have been doing this visit to the Kruger Park every year for 7 years. I’m an introvert and need plenty of space and time on my own to rejuvenate and replenish my energy levels. The first few times, I felt cranky and upset after a few days in the car. I felt cooped up, boxed in. Even though I love my family, resentment built up for me over those few days – until I usually took it out on my poor, unsuspecting husband, who was trying his best to keep his parents and his wife happy.
In those first few years, I was struggling to ask for what I wanted. I felt really bad to ask for time on my own, yet mad that I wasn’t getting it. I was stuck in a “victim” place for a few years. Too scared to say anything in case someone got mad or felt hurt, and then swallowing my feelings until they refused to be swallowed anymore. And then adding the guilt about an outburst to the mix!
That’s a really stuck place. It’s uncomfortable, not being able to get out of a place one doesn’t enjoy. It feels a bit like prison, with no parole in sight.
This year, as I’m enjoying my day, I certainly don’t feel stuck anymore. I have learned how much more enjoyable it is to ask for what I need. During the week in the Kruger with family, I take at least two of the seven days to stay in the resort to do my own thing. I listen to audio’s, take walks in the beautiful surroundings, read, enjoy the silence, think, process, sometimes tap through situations that were stressful, and like today – sit on a stunning deck, looking out on the Crocodile River with waterbuck, rhino, baboons and hippo’s in my visual field.
I feel fulfilled, empowered, in control of my destiny (even though I realise we’re really not really in control) and I can enjoy the days in the car watching animals because I know I’ll ALSO be able to enjoy what I need – time by myself every 2 days or so.
This article isn’t so much about my specific need (silence and time to process) – it’s more about that awful, horrendous place of feeling stuck with an emotion, a situation, with emotion building and not feeling empowered to change anything.
What usually happens when you want to get out of the stuckness?
Change is uncomfortable. It’s really hard sometimes to speak up for what we need, or to do something different and risk someone’s anger or other feelings we don’t want to deal with. Our nervous systems and the chemicals in our body get used to being a certain way over many, many years. And once we’re in a “stuck” place about something it can be hard, and really scary to climb OUT of that comfort zone, take charge and decide to act in a different way.
Doing something different IS scary. It’s like we’re taking a risk. Even though the stuck place is also uncomfortable, at least we know this place. We get what we already have, what we’re already used to. We may not like it, yet there’s a kind of certainty in it.
Change, on the other hand, means uncertainty. We don’t know what’s going to happen when we change, or ask for our needs to be met, or speak up about something that’s no longer working for us. That feels very risky – and our nervous systems have been programmed over many millions of years to try to increase certainty to stay alive.
And that’s why, so often, we can be stuck in a place – too scared to move forward even though the old way is no longer working for us. We feel fear, when we think of the risk of change – and over millions of years, the fight or flight response has kept us alive. If a bear is chasing us, we can flee (the emotion of fear helps us to do that) or we can fight (the emotion of anger helps us to do that). Sometimes we freeze – and that’s the problem because we can’t go forward, nor backward. Frozen in place, stuck with an uncomfortable situation, not feeling empowered, living the discomfort every day sometimes for years.
I’ve found in my own personal life, how the discomfort of being stuck with something we’ve started to hate, can have awful consequences. I’ve also found how hard (and sometimes impossible) it feels to get out of that stuck-ness by ourselves. It can be really hard to see solutions when all we see are problems.
I’ve noticed the truth of Einstein’s famous words: We can’t see the solution with the same mind that created the problem in the first place.
All our “problems” can usually be solved – and usually not while we’re in the stuck, negative frame of mind! Stuck-ness can’t seem to find solutions.
Have you ever heard yourself argue FOR your problem? I have – often! Someone offers me a solution and I’ll hear myself say “Yes but….. “ and then I proceed with a lengthy explanation or justification about why their solution won’t work for me. Neatly keeping myself stuck in the old stuff that I say I don’t want anymore.
What to do to get out of Stuckness?
Whether you’re stuck in your business, in a relationship, with a belief (I’m too old, too young, too dumb, too thin, too fat, too poor, I can’t etc), in a situation, or around a decision…. I find to get out, we need the following few steps:
1. Make a decision (or commitment) that this place/person/situation is no longer working.
2. Become determined to find a way out.
3. Ask for help.
4. Realise that real, lasting change does not usually happen overnight – it’s a process, and patience and persistence is required.
5. Get support from a new community. When we start behaving in different ways, the people around us might feel scared and try to get us to stay the way they know us. It’s not because they’re bad people. They are also operating from “fight or flight” and are trying to bring more security into their own lives. Realise you might need to drop a few of the old crowd and find another community to support you.
6. Drop the illusion that you have to get out of stuck-ness by yourself. If you really were able to do that, would you not have done it already? Enlist the help of a coach, a good friend of the encouraging kind, not the kind who is trying to drag you back to the old you.
Ask for Help
I’m incredibly excited about a group program I’ve put together for exactly this reason. I’ve been stuck before – and would really have appreciated a supportive group where I could voice my concerns, get help and encouragement for taking those first steps in doing things differently. I’m in such a group right now (and have been for more than a year) and I understand the power of support, guidance and encouragement because I’ve experienced it first hand.
If you’re in a place of stuckness right now and are ready to get out of it, support is at hand!
I’m offering a 12 week group coaching program to support anyone in a place of stuckness, overwhelm, not knowing the next step and feeling too scared to take a step. We start in mid-November (that’s around the corner) and I’d love to invite you to contact me for a conversation. I want to hear about your struggle, and where you’d like to go instead. Let’s determine if this group is a fit for you.
This program is offered at an incredibly affordable rate, and next time the price will be at least double. Get 2015 started on the right note – with a new direction, a supportive community, tools and techniques to get out of stucknees and move you towards your dream life.
I believe you’re worth it. Do you?
Write me (complete my Contact Form )and let me know how you’re stuck, tell me about your biggest struggle and we’ll set up a conversation. You don’t have to live with that stuckness. There’s a whole new world awaiting you. I’m sitting on a deck, with a beautiful breeze on my arms, watching animals while writing an article. All things I really love and enjoy – that would not have been possible if I was still stuck with my belief that I can’t speak up, and can’t have what I want.
Take one step today, and write me. That’s already empowering!
Liesel helps sensitive introverts to see their sensitivity as a superpower, love their work and practice awesome self-care so they can be energized and make a difference in a meaningful and fulfilling way. She helps them to overcome the fear of being visible, avoiding the spotlight and conflict, being ‘too nice’, perfectionism and procrastination.
She’s the author of “No Problem. The Upside of Saying No”, which is a handbook for those who struggle to say no, are overwhelmed and exhausted.
Click here to read about the book.