There’s No Stuck

(Excerpt from my soon-to-be-published book, Just One Step: The Journey to Your Unstoppable You)

There have been times in my life when I felt lost and said so, whether it was meant generally or specifically about a certain aspect of my life, and this is something I regularly hear from others. However, I now realize that lost isn’t a truth, but rather a choice. No matter what’s happening in my life (or not happening the way I desire), I now realize that the idea of being lost or stuck isn’t real. In short, there’s no lost and there’s no stuck.

Yes, there are times of uncertainty, doubt and fear, but lost and stuck are decisions that we make. They’re not outcomes, and they certainly are not states of being that anyone else or anything else can inflict on you. No matter how alone you may be or feel (and there’s a big difference), you always have a choice as to whether you stay alone, feel lost or decide to be stuck. These are choices you make at your core, and your choices will determine the nature and outcomes of your life’s adventure.

When I was wandering around northern Spain, and especially in the woods where I was facing a choice of trails without any outside guidance of which way to go, I had four choices: take the left fork, take the right fork, go back or stand still (and wait and hope for someone else to find me). I’m sure that every one of you is saying that standing still isn’t really a good choice, but how many times in your life have you done (or are you doing) precisely that – choosing to stand still and not make a choice, waiting for someone else, something else or other outside circumstances to make the decision for you? You want to believe that this choice (standing still) is the safest because you think you can’t be wrong if you don’t decide. There’s some truth in this thinking – yes, you can blame other people and circumstances for whatever happens or doesn’t happen – but this is the choice of the victim and the blamer. We also forget this wisdom from the song “Freewill”by Rush: “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” And it’s rarely the right one.

When you’re feeling stuck, what you’re really saying is one or more of the following:

I don’t know the right answer or direction, and I’m afraid to choose.

I don’t the right answer or direction, and I don’t want to be responsible if I choose badly.

I don’t know the right answer or direction, and I’m choosing to stay here and let other people or circumstances decide for me.

I don’t know the right answer or direction, and I don’t trust myself to choose.

What are the essential elements of all of these? There are four: fear, protection, victimhood and lack of trust. It’s important to address all of these directly in order to get unstuck, to move forward and to get unlost.

In order to address the foregoing obstacles, there are a couple of first steps. First, you have to pause, but remember that pausing isn’t the same as stopping or being stuck. However, you must use discernment to make sure that your pausing has not turned into stopping and getting stuck. I’ve had times in my life when I was in continuous motion, but the motion and action had no direction. In fact, the motion itself was a reaction to my fear and was a form of avoiding decisions and understanding. It was a way to protect myself (or so I thought), including protecting myself from being honest with myself or others. I was afraid that if I stopped, I’d be acknowledging my stuckness or lostness, and I didn’t want anyone to know that I was feeling lost, so I kept moving for appearance. Constant movement and action was and is also a great form of victimhood – if I keep moving at 100 miles per hour, I can always tell myself and others that I’m super busy and doing a lot, so if things don’t turn out the way I hope or plan, then I can blame the world for not delivering.

Does any of this sound familiar for you? Are you hiding behind lots of motion and activity? Are you always busy, but not sure where you’re going or even intending to go? Are you living the adventure, or are you hiding behind lots of activity? Are you doing many things because you’re uncertain as to what to do and afraid to claim and commit to a path? Do you take time to pause, assess and understand? In most cases, part of your adventure requires that you slow down and even pause, because only in the pause can you ask yourself the questions that need to be answered for you to move forward. The pause is essential for you to ask and answer the questions above when it comes to feeling stuck or lost. The pause is where and when you better understand yourself and are able to make the choices that serve you, to consciously embrace the adventure of life, and to choose your direction wisely. Never lost, never stuck, only pausing!

The second critical step along with the pause is one we’ve talked about before – asking yourself the difficult questions and honestly answering them. One of the most difficult questions to ask and answer is about your fears. We all have fears, even if they’re mostly unconscious. We falsely think that if we don’t feel afraid (i.e. flight or fight response), then we’re not afraid and fear isn’t a factor is our situation. However, most of the fears that hold us back are not conscious – they’re unconscious fears that are running the show behind the scenes and in the shadows. And it’s fear that feeds the lost or stuck story in our heads.

Much like the great and powerful Oz, pulling the levers behind the curtain, our unconscious fears slow us, trip us and stop us, often without us realizing it. Even when we’re merely hesitating with our progress or taking longer than we had expected or hoped to make a decision, to put a decision into action or to reach our desired outcome, fear is the likely culprit or at least a contributing factor. Let’s face it – fear exists to keep us safe and being safe is a natural state of mind and desire. The only question is how safe you want to be – and whether the things that are important to you are important enough to move you past and through your fears even when that feels unsafe.

Only when you’re willing to embrace the reality of fear, and bring it out of the shadows into consciousness, can you take back the control that fear can have over all of us. When you bring the fear into the light, it has little or no control over you, and you can then make decisions based upon all the factors that are required (other than fear). This doesn’t mean that you proceed without fear, but that you make decisions and proceed with an assessment of the fear and do it anyway!

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