Getting Stuck AND Unstuck

Howdy Campers!  Let me show you around a bit and let’s talk about Getting Unstuck.  Take a look at the map. Getting Unstuck_illustration


Camp Comfort - This is where you start.  It is comfortable.  You are accustomed to this place. It is a good place to rest and think.  Not much challenge here, just the status quo.

Just Right Hike - This is a slight challenge for you; it gets you out of the comfort zone but not too far.  It gives you new perspective and encouragement that you are capable of just a bit more than you thought.

Out of Reach Peak - this is just a bit too far for your first time out.  It looked closer than it was, but you may not have had enough experience or training to get to this point.  So when you attempted it, you ended up in….

Got Stuck Gulch - This is in a valley, possibly a shadowy dark place between two destinations.  Perhaps it feels a bit isolated, maybe even scary.  Maybe you are injured with a twisted ankle, or you are sick from being out in the elements, or you are exhausted from trying to reach that bigger peak.  You are wondering if you are ever going to get out and how that could happen.  Most of all, you are frustrated that you are here.

Fortunately, you have have several tools (kind of like a Swiss army knife) to help you get out of Got Stuck Gulch:

  1. Go Back
  2. Stay There
  3. Move Small
  4. Fail Forward
  5. Ask for Help
  6. Get Creative

Go Back.  Go back to what worked before.  Retrace your path until you find something familiar; go back a couple of steps until you find something that you are able to do.

What step, habit or workout exercise CAN you do right now today?  

Stay There.  If you are injured or exhausted, you need to rest and recover before you returning to the path.  Hunker down, lick your wounds and heal, re-group.  Compassionate self-care will lead you forward.

Ask yourself : how can I be compassionate towards myself right now?  What do I need to regain some energy? What is the next healthy choice I can make?

(And for heaven’s sake, forget about what you should do!  “Should” is a guilt-inducing phrase that tends to increase stuckness.)

Move Small.  When you are overwhelmed, forget about a big plan that might be further overwhelming.  If you are not ready to approach a habit or workout in its whole, break it into a smaller piece or part. Stretching too far, too fast may be what got you here, so do the opposite and aim for teeny tiny steps that lead in the right direction.  Recovery is about direction, not speed.

Does eating slowly all day every day sound too challenging?  How about just eating slowly at breakfast?  

Feeling winded when you approach your workout?  How about just doing the warm-up routine of your workout for a couple of days until your stamina improves?

This tool is a firestarter… a little spark that gathers fuel and creates bigger energy.

Fail Forward. If you are already stuck, doesn’t that already count as a “fail”?  No!  Failing forward is actually another name for trying, observing the outcome and then trying again with an adjustment.

How could you try something different with your afternoon snack, your workout, your Smart Carbs?   How did I feel after I ate that, did that group exercise class, tried butternut squash for breakfast?

Failing forward is trying something different and not giving a flying fig if you fail.  Experiment and fail as much as possible.  As you are learning what not to do, what does work, it is leading you towards what WILL WORK.

Ask for Help.  Phone a friend, send up a smoke signal, fire off a safety flare.  Let someone know you are stuck.  Your coach, your coaching team, your team mates may have ideas to assist with getting out of that stuck place.  Having some company, especially an experienced trail guide, on the path back may be what you need.

Who do you know that has been down this path?  Who do you trust to give you hand?

Get Creative.  This is where opposite thinking comes in handy.  Do something unexpected, do something fun, or do something that is completely unrelated to your habits or nutrition.

Stuck in the gym?  Would an outdoor workout at the neighborhood park be fun?  Or an impromptu dance party lip-sync contest in the living room with your kids?

How long has it been since you picked up those knitting needles, oil paints, headphones, craft supplies, tennis balls?  Try an activity for the sheer joy of it.

Stuckness is like your brain has a muscle cramp, and creative fun (with perhaps a dose of joy) is the muscle relaxer.  Sometimes doing something completely different can help our brain relax while we find our way back to where we can begin again on the path to what we want.