03.23.13 Truth & Wisdom
BY Victoria Cox
To quote U2, have you ever been “Stuck in a moment that you can’t get out of?” Does that moment sometimes feel like a lifetime? That feeling can quickly turn into many moments which then turn into days, months, years and then before you know it you have managed to carve your life into a rut that you really feel you can’t get out of.
I like to call this Rut Dwelling and I am a self-confessed Rut Dweller. I created this rut through years of repetitive action and routine because it made me feel safe, protected me from the big bad world and gave me the false impression that I was in control. Over time this rut has shifted from a place of safety and comfort to a place of sheer boredom coupled with a sense of anxiety at the prospect that I have manifested a self-imposed prison cell without any walls.
Sure, my prison cell contains all the creature comforts that one could ask for in a modern life, but there is something about feeling trapped that changes your perspective from a sense of comfort to a sense of malaise. Of course my logical mind is screaming at me, “Stuck?” “How can you be stuck, you are totally free! If you wanted to you could hop on a plane, train or automobile and go anywhere you wanted.” But would it really change anything? It would be a quick escape from reality, a minor exploration into another world of possibility but then the minute my feet touched home soil and the key turned in the apartment lock it would be back to the same old routine and my head would be planted firmly back in the sand.
Sometimes taking a fresh introspective look at how we choose to live our lives could be the solution to breaking through these life ruts in order to enter into a more positive mind-set. The following four steps just might be helpful in order to help drag ourselves out of the rut and back into the game:
1. Self-Exploration. The first step in figuring out how to get out of a rut is to find out why we feel this way in the first place. When life seems monotonous and the rut that we have fell into feels like it’s closing in on us over time, it is usually an indication that there is something in our lives that needs to change. If we are not careful, rut-dwelling can quickly have a sense of permanence about it and can lead us down the path to despondency, bleeding into one of the more sticky emotions we humans suffer from, self-pity. “Why is this happening to me?” “What did I do wrong?” It’s a disheartening place to be. So how do you stop yourself taking a left turn onto Despondency Avenue until you reach Self-Pity Street? One way to achieve this is to simply acknowledge the way that we feel and get it all out in the open, the good bad and the ugly. Pour it all out into a journal or into a good friend’s ear over a glass of wine. Stop pretending that everything is fine if it isn’t, there is no shame in admitting that we are going through one of life’s tough spots.
2. Take the first step. This act of change, though it may seem trivial, is symbolic and allows us to step outside of ourselves and discover that there is a different way, many different ways, to live our life. This approach to commit to change might even lead us to realize that there are new and exciting opportunities present in our everyday lives that we had never noticed before because we were simply too caught up in hosting our pity party for one. Change doesn’t have to be radical, a simple change such as creating a new morning routine, eating a healthier diet or clearing out your closet can act as a simple reminder that we can escape our rut anytime we choose and that we alone hold the power to do this. The moment we take that first step and take action to step outside of ourselves and make a positive change we invite fresh energy, hope and excitement into our lives.
3. Map it out. Sometimes life can be overwhelming and when these negative thoughts are rushing around our brains it can be hard to pinpoint exactly what it is we want and need to change in our lives. Believe it or not, this is where diagrams can come in useful. Draw a pie chart with all those various areas of your life marked onto it for example Money, Relationships, Family, Health, Career, Education, Finances, Physical Activity, Social Life, Spirituality etc. Place a score out of ten representing how satisfied you feel with each aspect, 10 being the happiest. Once the chart has been completed it should provide a clear visual of any areas that need to be addressed. It should also show that although there might be aspects which score a big fat zero, there are other aspects of our lives which we are perfectly happy with. Acknowledge the good stuff, we just might be surprised at how much of it we have.
4. Set a goal. Once you have everything out of your head and onto paper it makes things seem clearer. Identify those areas where you feel things are stuck and not moving in the direction you would like. Write down one goal that you would like to achieve that will help to improve your satisfaction in this area, it doesn’t matter how big or small. Identify how you will achieve this goal and set yourself a timeline, be kind to yourself and be realistic. Keep the goal visible to you, pin it inside your closet, hang it on the fridge. It will act as a daily reminder and keep you motivated.
Although it may seem that we are powerless over our lives sometimes having a fresh perspective and an action plan up our sleeves can be liberating and make us realize that we no longer need to retain our citizenship status as a Rut Dweller but that we hold our own passport to change.