How many times do we try to think our way out of a problem—only to find that the more we think about it, the worse it gets?
If you were raised to believe that you need to “look before you leap” or “think it through thoroughly” or “measure twice, cut once” then you may have found that these excellent pieces of advice are exceptionally useful in very specific instances. However, when you use them on everything, you can very easily come down with a bad case of Analysis Paralysis, an affliction that will stop you dead in your tracks.
As accomplished as we are in so many areas of our lives, many of us have several areas where we regularly get stuck. These are often the places where we feel the most unsure of ourselves; maybe we have an overabundance of stories that pack an emotional wallop about the exact nature of our inadequacies. As smart as we know we are about a lot of things, these are the places in our lives were we secretly (or maybe not so secretly) just feel stupid.
The worst part of all this is that the mere threat of feeling stupid is just about all it takes to keep us from exploring those places that keep us stuck.
Over the last 6 months, I’ve come face to face with a couple of these very places in myself. It was difficult to feel so stuck, especially in light of all the strategies I teach and all the success I have. The good news is that all the strategies that helped me Dance into my Power have helped me maneuver my way through these “feeling stupid” places and have left me with some insights I could not have gotten any other way.
Here are the Top 3 Things I learned:
- When we feel stuck, it’s very hard for many of us to open our eyes and look around. We feel so distressed on the inside that we don’t want to see just how awful it is on the outside.
- It turns out that the stories we keep telling ourselves about how bad things are—or how dumb we are—provide us with precisely the perfect trap to keep us stuck.
- The moment we turn off those stories we’ve been telling ourselves (over and over and over again) is the moment we can spring that trap and escape. When we replace those stories with the question, “What if this could be different?” we get triggered to open our eyes to look for the answer to the question—and that action springs us right out of the trap into a different experience.
Once I opened my eyes to see what was in front of me, I realized that everything I needed was right within reach. All I had to do was ask that different question and my shift into action happened very quickly.
Right now I can hardly believe that I felt so stuck 6 months ago; because I learned so much in the process, I’m very happy that I was. The great news is I’ve developed another strategy… and that’s always a good thing.
Here it is, in case you find it useful:
- When you feel stuck, stop for a moment and ask yourself: “What do I want?”
- Once you’ve answered that question, open your eyes and look at what you have right now. How big is the gap between these two?
- The instant you identify the gap, take focused action and do something right now to close it. This is different from reacting, and here’s why: taking action now is about logically and consciously moving towards your goal, paying attention to what you’re doing the whole time. Reacting is emotional and unconscious—it’s what we do when we mistake motion for action. When you take action, you consciously move towards your goal, and you learn along the way what works and what doesn’t. When you do more of what works, you get more of what you want—faster. The more you do it, the faster it works
Keep paying attention to your results after each action you take. Repeat these three steps until you get exactly what you want.
The bottom line is that humans are hard-wired for learning—which is why children learn so much so quickly. The only thing that stops us from learning is when we decide that we already know…that’s also the first step to getting stuck.
The moment we remember the curiosity we all were born with is the moment we discover can learn anything…It’s also the moment we discover that we can choose to get unstuck from anything.
This week, look at the places in your life where you feel stuck and ask yourself, “What if this could be different?” Try out my strategy and see what happens.
Let me know how it goes.