Being stuck in a rut can be a sneaky trap. It can keep us doing the same old things and feel like we are getting nowhere. And quite often we don’t even realize that we have been held in the invisible prison of repeating the same old unhealthy patterns until it starts to take a huge toll on our emotional wellbeing or even physical health.
If you feel like you’re just going through the motions, treading water, or jogging in place – it’s time to do something about it. There are 3 main secrets you need to understand to stop feeling unmotivated and unfulfilled, make the shift and get excited about life again.
#1 Secret – Understand what keeps you stuck in a rut.
We all have beliefs and patterns we learnt very early in our life. They all served us well when we were small, but many of them have been suffocating us ever since we grew up a bit.
Feeling stuck in a rut, like you’re moving nowhere in your life, usually means some of these beliefs and patterns must have taken over and pushed you out of the driver’s seat.
So, the first thing is to understand what is really going on and why.
All parts of you are trying to do the best they can to keep you safe and well. However, some of your parts are very young and immature or hurt/raging/in despair and trusting them with the steering wheel is a risky choice.
Let me give you an example of one of my own patterns that I learnt early in my life. A pattern that used to wreak havoc in my life and relationships and made me feel stuck in a life that didn’t feel like my own at all.
I was around 5 when a seemingly unimportant event created long-lasting consequences.
At the time, life in Poland was quite hard. It was still the Communist era and all was grey or brown, the shops were half empty and the 2 TV channels we had played mostly Polish war movies.
We didn’t have a lot of money, but there wasn’t much to buy anyway.
One day I had a playdate with one of my friends. It was the summer holidays, I was staying at my aunt’s and that morning I was waiting, all excited, for my friend to arrive.
She knocked on the door and me and my Nana opened the door to let her in.
And then … I saw them.
My friend’s shoes.
She was wearing the most amazing shoes I had ever seen in my 5-year long life.
I still remember them clearly. Beautiful red sandals with a little shiny bow.
I was stunned.
I still don’t know where she took them from. Probably a family member living in the States had sent them over. But there they were. Little, shiny, red miracle in our grey reality.
I spent the whole morning staring at them, enchanted, unable to take my eyes off them.
It was as if I was under a spell.
But then, when my friend left I heard my Nana talking to my grandpa. She said:
‘We need to buy Kasia some nice shoes. Did you notice her staring at Ania’s sandals? And she is such a good girl, she didn’t say anything… She was just looking at them with these big sad eyes.’
So, they bought me some nice shoes. As nice as was possible at the time. I can’t remember the new shoes at all but I still remember exactly what my Nana said. And I took her words deep into my heart.
As a result, I spent years of my life staring at many different things (and people) making my eyes as big and as sad as I possibly could. To no avail, mostly.
I wasn’t asking for anything, I wasn’t reaching out for anything, I wasn’t taking action… I was just making these big, sad eyes (remember Puss in Boots?) and hoping people will see and do what I needed/wanted them to do. But people notoriously didn’t notice at all. And… I was becoming more and more frustrated, resentful and bitter.
The cold, hard truth about living the life you want to live is that you have to reach out for it yourself.
No one will do it for you. There aren’t any magic potions, miraculous fixes and secret solutions. When you feel stuck in a rut, the un-stucking is on you, I’m afraid.
It requires work and dedication. But first all of, it requires you to stop waiting for things to change on their own. Or, for someone else to change them for you. And instead, recognize (and deeply accept!) that the choice is yours.
#2 Understand and accept that you have the choice
Have you read the book by Edith Eger’s ‘The gift’? I highly recommend it, if you haven’t.
Edith is a Holocaust survivor who became a psychologist and a brilliant therapist working with trauma survivors in the States.
I discovered her books only recently. For years I had steered clear from anything that had even the slightest mention about the Holocaust.
My own grandfather was a survivor of Majdanek – a smaller concentration camp located just outside my home town. For many reasons, this has cast a deep shadow over my childhood. It has also left me with a deep terror which I used to manage by avoiding everything that had anything to do with the Holocaust and II World War.
But once I grew stronger I reached out for Eger’s books. I loved ‘The Choice’ and then last year, in the middle of the pandemic her latest book ‘The Gift’ came out, and I loved it even more.
‘The prison is in your mind. The key is in your pocket’ – writes Eger.
Being stuck in a rut is being stuck in the prison of your mind. You are not the victim of external situations and people. It is your beliefs and patterns that make you feel stuck in life. Always.
So, once you recognize what they are, the next thing is to reclaim your power of choice.
The truth is, you always have the choice.
The circumstances, the events, the people who are in your life and even the patterns and beliefs you have learnt on the way are often beyond your control. You haven’t consciously invited them into your life.
The fact that some circumstances, events, people or beliefs are NOT in your life (even if you tried hard to invite them) is often beyond your control, as well.
But you are always free to choose how you respond to all of them.
You have the choice to react automatically, on autopilot (which often runs you into trouble over and over again). Or, you can choose to take a pause, check-in with yourself, soothe and regulate your whole system and choose your response intentionally. (Want to learn how to do that? This is the best place to start – How To Process Emotions- 3 Stepps To Help You Cope)
#3 If you want to get out of a rut, the most important thing is to remember the most important thing.
Once you have discovered what it is that keeps you stuck in a rut and accepted that only you have the power to change it, the last thing you need is something that will give you a boost of motivation and set the direction for moving forward.
Feeling stuck in life drains out our energy, motivation and zest for life. If you’re feeling low and flat, making necessary changes might seem like too much of an effort and you might feel confused and unsure what to do next.
But there is something that is a powerful antidote to all this. Something, that made you reach out for this blog post and read it up to this point. Any idea what it is?
It is the deep longing in your heart.
Each of us carries an intention in our heart to live our life the way we truly want to live it. A deep longing to be fully and unapologetically who we are. A yearning to grow into the best version of ourselves and to create the most fulfilling version of our life.
This intention/ longing/yearning can feel very uncomfortable at times. The farther away we feel we are from fulfilling the vision we carry in our hearts and bellies, the biggest the discomfort. So, we often try to avoid it by burying our longings deep inside and do our best to forget about them.
The problem (and the blessing!) is, that we can never forget about them completely. No matter how hard we try they always come back like a boomerang.
And thanks God they do! Otherwise, we would be totally lost in the jungle of everyday duties and responsibilities, routines, fears and worries and well as superficial instant gratifications, guilty pleasures and little comfort zones. We would spend our lives trying hard to cut our way through the bush and we would never see the amazing beauty of the island we’re on.
If you can’t see the bigger picture, the bigger truth and meaning, it always affects your happiness and zest for life. As long as you’re stuck in a rut your eyes are stuck on the ground. It can make it even harder for you to cope when things in your life change, don’t work out as expected or when you go through a crisis or challenging life transition.
The truth is, we all want to live in a beautiful and meaningful way. We want to express our truth. We want to create the life we feel proud of.
Once you’re back in touch with your deepest longing, it will not only give you a sense of clarity and direction but also all the strength and courage you need to reach out for what truly matters to you. This is your best shortcut to getting out of a rut. No matter how deep it might be.
So, this is my special gift for you to reconnect with your longing in the easiest and most effective way. Download my ‘Your BIG Why’ Playbook and get access to a powerful meditation that will allow you to reconnect to your deep values within minutes!