Life is not always easy at the best of times and every now and again it throws up various challenges at work or at home that test us all and leaves us in a place where we feel disempowered and dissatisfied with our lot.
Sometimes we just find ourselves stuck, in a rut, or just tired of the same old, same old but coming out of this place requires more effort, more confidence, a stronger version of our present self that is just out of reach so we just stay put.
At this time it might be hard for you to believe or to even acknowledge that you got to this place by choice. But let me explain, this can happen over a period of time.
The truth is you have become comfortable with what is now familiar. The sense of safety that this place provides, albeit in the short term, has now becomes your go to place. Even the discomfort you experience doesn’t put you off. This has become your comfort zone, a place of retreat. We think nobody can see us here. Nobody can touch us. We convince ourselves that we can’t possibly hurt any more than we do right now. This place brings us short term comfort, respite from our worries and provide us shelter from the onslaught of life’s challenges. This very place of refuge that we have painstakingly created around us initially to protect us has now become our prison. Where we once sought solace, has now left us feeling trapped and with the walls closing in, our world seems to be even smaller.
But here’s the thing, you are the jailor to this particular prison you have created, you are the guard on patrol and as such you hold the key to opening the door.
You can decide the length of the sentence you are to serve. Yes, you can decide when it is time to release yourself. You can decide and you can choose to use that very key that you have been holding on to, to open the door and step outside to that place you have been looking at for so long, and reconnect.
Ok I can hear you say, I didn’t choose this, I didn’t ask for any of this, my husband left me, I’m facing redundancy, I was involved in an accident, I didn’t ask to be bullied or abused, my friend died. I wouldn’t wish any of this on my worst enemy. Of course you didn’t choose any of this, who would? It’s about how you then manage and approach the situation.
That’s where our choice begins. That’s where we decide how we deal with the curve ball that caught us unawares. This is likely to have happened at an unconscious level as not many of us would actively choose the pain we are experiencing or consciously increase our own suffering.
Ok, so stepping out into the unknown can be a scary thing but knowing that it is possible once you have the right support, the right tools and a little bit of knowledge you can overcome your fears.
I know from talking to my clients that most of us will have some idea about what we need to do but the problem is that we just don’t know how to make the changes happen. For some it is about making the changes happen without the disturbances that we experience, the increased anxiety, the negativity and the fear of failure. For others, it can be about having the courage, the strength and the resources to make it happen. All of this can mean you end up staying where you are, never making the changes that you want, and need to make.
Here are 3 Steps to freeing yourself from this prison and making the lasting transformation you truly want,
Step 1 – It’s Time to Take Stock – identifying the problem
Ask yourself the following questions and be as honest as you can.
- How happy are you with your life right now?
- If you could change one thing right now what would that be?
- How much do you want change to happen?
- What are you to holding onto that right now that holds you back or gets in the way?
Now that you have a better idea of what the problem is. It is time to get rid of anything that is holding you back. Past disappointments, regrets and mistakes you’ve made. Often these can be the strategies which may have helped you once but now they just get in the way. Avoidance is a great way to stop ourselves from doing what we need to do. Pleasing others all the time is another way to put off looking after you. Likewise getting drawn into the drama of those around you is another good way of avoiding looking at yourself. It’s time to clear the clutter. It’s time to lighten the load – It’s time to get rid.
Step 2 – Making things more manageable
- Break the problem down
- Take one step at a time
- Stay in the moment
- Learn to manage your anxiety
How many times have you looked at your situation and have been immediately put off by the size of it? How many times have you said to yourself, I can’t do this, it’s too big? Where do I start? or you nibble away but end up in the same place.
Well the easiest way to look at this is to break the problem down into more manageable chunks. Start by looking for themes or patterns. When does the problem cause you most distress? Is the problem work related or is it more personal? Is this the 1st time or have you been here before? It might actually be smaller than you think, it just looks massive. Or it might actually be the same issue coming up in different guises.
Don’t think too far ahead, stay in the present. If you look too far ahead you can become fixated on how far you still have to travel to get to where you want to go rather that than appreciating just how much you have achieved.
Finally manage any anxiety that is coming up for you. Simple deep breathing exercises, short mediation exercise will help. A general walk, watching your favourite TV programme, listening to music , sitting quietly in your garden or just allowing yourself to be still for a moment, anything that relaxes you. Don’t feed your anxiety, slow down and take a breath.
Step 3 – Lets get going
- Change just one thing
- Going it alone – Making SMART goals
- Asking for help – Confidence/Resilience building
Great! You got this far.
Now you will find that you are better placed to address the issues. You may notice that there is a little more anxiety around for you, but this is normal. You are about to step out into the unknown but already you are beginning to see your situation differently and you have, perhaps, ventured out further than you have in a long while. It’s going to be new. No, your anxiety isn’t about taking a backward step. It is normal.
A word of caution, remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, don’t try to do everything at once. Don’t risk being overwhelmed, because it is easy to be dismissive of your attempts. Remember every small step towards change matters and can cause a ripple effect bringing about more change.
If you are going it alone make sure your goals are realistic – you might want to do everything by tomorrow but accept that this is not possible. Don’t set yourself up to fall at the first hurdle…set SMART GOALS. Smart Goals need to be:
S – specific
M – measurable
A – achievable
R – realistic,
T – time-based
For example: I want to lose one stone in weight for my holiday in June which is 3 months away.
Don’t struggle with your goals on your own. For a comprehensive and FREE guide plus workbook to help you with setting killer goals, please click here.
Finally, don’t let asking for help or admitting that you need help put you off dealing with your problems and making that transformation. Celebrate the fact that you have managed to get this far. Take a moment to reflect on the progress you’ve made. They say it’s good to talk. If it is possible, involve your friends & family as they can be a great source of support and can help you stay on track.
However if you like the idea of talking to someone who is impartial, someone who has some expertise, someone who will walk with you, alongside you as you venture out into the unknown then coaching and counselling may help you develop the confidence and resilience that you will need to keep going.
It’s not easy to face your fears and make the changes but counselling and coaching provides you with an opportunity to overcome some of the challenges that have prevented you from unlocking the door. You don’t have to do this on your own.
If you are looking for somebody who is objective, someone who won’t judge you someone with the experience & understanding then contact me. At MEC Coaching and Counselling Service based in Wolverhampton you will find a safe, supportive place where you can talk freely, and you will be heard. I will help you gain the clarity and the direction you need to move beyond the doors.
I will help you to move to a place where you will begin to think, feel and behave differently in response to your situation so that you can make the changes that you want to make.