How many times has the New Year rolled around and you’ve got so excited about all the awesome new habits you’ll do for the next year? You’ll start learning a new language, take dance lessons, start eating healthy, get a personal trainer, begin that course you’ve been talking about, work your butt off and get a raise, travel overseas and save 10% of your paycheck whilst having the relationship of your dreams with the perfect guy or girl. Heck you’ll be a totally different person! New Year, New Leaf right?
But then you wake up one day and it’s half way through the “new” year. You’re dragging yourself out of bed, trudging along to the same old job, hanging out with the same crowd, doing the same things and not one of your new year’s resolutions has actually stayed for the long term. You might have tried all of them and gave it your all but something got in your way and somehow you’ve ended up back where you started. I used to do this every year.
Every single year I would make a promise to myself that this year would be different. I’d make changes to my diet, relationship, career, I’d go out and meet people and start my whole life fresh. I was sick of the same thing happening again and again. I didn’t understand why it seemed so easy for some people. I had friends who were out having fun, going on dates or enjoying their relationships, happy in their careers and there I was, struggling to get out of bed everyday to do the same thing, feeling the same way. Life seemed grey all the time.
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I Was Stuck
I had a bright, colourful picture for where I wanted to be, and where I thought I would be by a certain time, but I just wasn’t there. I’d notice all the ways that I wasn’t smart, confident, attractive, successful, loved. Often I would overthink or over-analyse past events or anticipate future events so that I could be prepared, be perfect, be better than I felt like I was.
What I didn’t understand at the time is that our mind is so powerful. It has the potential to help us get everything we want, only we don’t really learn how to use it. It’s like our mind is a super computer and when we are very very young we learned different ways to sort the data. Because we’ve been doing it for so long and because we don’t really learn how to do this in school, it can be challenging to change the way we sort the information, to update the programs we run in our mind.
But, it can be done. I know because I did it. We all have to start somewhere though, and as much as I knew where I wanted to be, it’s as if I wasn’t clear on where I was starting from. It’s kind of like trying to make travel plans with a blindfold on. If you don’t know which airport you’re leaving from, how can you possibly plan your journey and book your ticket to that beautiful Island holiday you’ve been dreaming of?
Where Are You Now? Where Do You Want To Go?
I noticed that sometimes I would concentrate so much on the things that I hadn’t done yet that I forgot to take stock and look at what was already right there in front of me. Instead of feeling empowered, this often led me in the opposite direction, experiencing not so great emotions. I would keep on pushing myself until I burned out, or I’d just get fed up and do nothing. I realised that I had been doing the same thing again and again. I hadn’t actually stopped and asked myself, “Where am I now?” and not rush the answer or really considered all areas of life.
I decided to get real with where I was, stepping back from the emotion of how I felt, and just noticing the facts. I made an effort to really see things as they were, not better than, not worse than, just exactly as they were, without judgement. I decided not to get too caught up with why I hadn’t worked out my life yet, instead asking the more empowering question “How can I solve this in a healthy way that works for me?”
When I was able to really see things as they were, without the negative self talk program running through my mind, I started to get really curious about all the different ways that I could reach my goals, and consider what I truly wanted out of life. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was the very beginning of how I figured out how to get out of my rut.
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There were a few other things that helped me get some wiggle room and start moving. They gave me hope to keep going, to keep learning and growing, and maybe they will help you to wiggle out of your rut too.
Do You Notice Differences Or Sameness?
My Nan would notice the picture on the wall in her lounge when it was a millimetre off centre, not exactly straight, whereas my Grandpa didn’t notice until the picture was obviously not at an acute angle. My nan noticed differences in the tiniest of details. She would notice if my skirt hem was coming undone or loose just a little bit, if I pronounced a word incorrectly, if anything in her house or garden had been moved, even if it had been put back down in the same place.
I grew up noticing differences too, and looking back, it had many advantages in my career and other areas of life. But where it was not so helpful was when I wanted to meet new people or when I compared how different my life was to others. I would notice the things that were out of place compared to them or the picture in my mind; the things that weren’t working or going how I planned. It wasn’t so much about being different and unique, as much as it was about the fact that I was only focusing on the differences. Because I wasn’t noticing as many of the things that I shared with others and connected with, this made it challenging to celebrate the qualities that I wanted to enjoy with others, such as feeling love, being happy, laughing together and celebrating the good times.
One of the biggest ways that noticing more sameness has helped me, is when I meet people. I used to think I was so different to other people, whether it was the thought that I wasn’t the most trendy or that I might not be knowledgeable enough or likeable enough. I have a friend who loves meeting new people, and I learned alot from his approach. When he’s about to go up to talk to someone new, he thinks “You’re a person and I’m a person, that means we’ve got something in common!” then he simply gets really curious to know more about them and asks “ How are you?”. He meets people wherever he goes and talks to people all the time. Now when I choose to go out and meet people, I think of him and think about how much fun it is to find out about people. I consider the idea that maybe they are nervous about meeting me and this helps me to turn down the differences dial and turn up the sameness dial.
When I started focussing on more sameness, I noticed that how I interacted with people started to change and become more fun. The conversations began to flow more easily and I began to feel even more curious about the other person, which helped me to get out of my own thoughts and to enjoy the interaction. The biggest change that came about once I started to really focus on more sameness, was that I started to ask myself better questions that actually felt more uplifting and more empowering, leading me to notice so many more positives in my life. The funny thing is, those things were always there, I had just not truly taken the time to appreciate them before.
Turn Up The Appreciation Dial
When you’re stuck in a rut and not sure where to go it can help to recognise the great things that you have done and to acknowledge all of your accomplishments. I would focus on the things that were not working in my life, so I often didn’t fully appreciate or even notice the things that were actually working and going great. By learning how to Increase my appreciation for these things, it helped me to start to notice even more of them in my life, which gave me the motivation to keep going and moving forward.
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I know someone who has a sheet of paper above her bed with ‘What Are 5 Things You Appreciate’ written on it and every morning it’s the first thing she looks at. She read out loud 5 things that she appreciates every single morning and says that it really helps her to stay positive throughout her day. They may be small things like ‘I appreciate the sun shining in my room’ or ‘I appreciate the dinner my friend made for me on the weekend’ because it doesn’t matter what the things is that you feel appreciation for, it just matters that you feel an appreciation for it.
In addition to this I started writing down all the things in my life to feel good about. I had trained myself to see the negative things and all the things that weren’t perfect yet, that it had become easier to focus on that instead of acknowledging the progress I had made and the wonderful things I was doing. By writing down all the great things in my life that I could feel awesome about and appreciate, I began to retrain my brain to focus on more positive things. Whilst noticing the differences and knowing what you want to change or what you’re sick of doing can be useful, it’s also important to have an balanced perspective and to acknowledge what you are great at as well.
I thought back through my whole life on all the things I’d done, starting from when I was born, all the way up to now. I had learned to walk, learned to talk and I won a science competition one time. I had fun playing in the yard with my brother and I was great at remembering to feed all the animals we looked after, plus I spelled whether and weather out loud in front of the class when I was 7! There were little things that as an adult seem like nothing, but you can still feel good about them because at that time it was actually a big deal, a big achievement! I still add all these little milestones to my list and it’s helped me to keep going, to keep facing challenges and it continues to give me motivation to keep learning and growing.
It’s good to notice all the changes you’re making in life, no matter how tiny they might seem at the time. For example, when I wanted to start a new healthy habit of running every day, I began with the tiniest change of simply getting into my workout clothes and walking for 1 minute. This was far from my goal of running 30 minutes a day and in the beginning it felt really slow, almost as if I wasn’t making any progress. In life, change can sometimes appear slow and it’s important to find a way to keep going through those times until you reach your goal.
For me, noticing all the things that I appreciated and that I had already achieved was one way to help me keep moving forward. I decided that being in a rut was not working for me and to start making little changes everyday. Something else that worked too, was that I started asking more questions to solve the problems that I was facing. Questions are great because while they can lead to more questions, they also lead to answers. I felt at times like I was hitting a roadblock, almost as if I didn’t have anywhere to go and like I was at a dead end. Instead of stopping or giving up, I started to ask some questions, and then take action.
What Resources Do You Have?
Sometimes along our journey of changing and growing ourselves, we don’t stop to consider what we CAN do, and how the people in our lives can help us. I know I certainly didn’t do this to begin with. I used to focus on all the things that I couldn’t do, or that were obstacles in my way making it harder for me to reach my goals. I’d complain about them without even realising it and when someone would offer to help me I always said no. I often thought that nobody could help me anyway and sometimes I even felt guilty if I considered accepting someone’s help because I thought I should be able to do it on my own. Sound familiar?
Melisa Grigg - Head Coach & Trainer
Melisa was stuck in sadness for 15 years, hated her job, was overweight and her relationship had just ended. Melisa inspires people with her story and now teaches how she sorted her life out. She worked out how to be happy and how to lose over 30kg of body weight. In simple steps she teaches how you can stop procrastinating, find confidence, stop being so sad and finally start to find true meaning and purpose in your life.
You might be staggering over a project that you can’t seem to finish because of a certain issue that keeps on popping out. You might be running out of patience and negative emotions start to rise. It happens to many of us when we forget the resources that we have. So, when you are faced with a dilemma, stop and think about the resources that you have. You just have to recognise them. Everyone has a massive library of resources that you have acquired along the way, and sometimes they’ve just been sitting on the shelf of your mind collecting dust. To be able to better keep track of these resources, it’s a great idea to dust them off and acknowledge them because someday they will be useful to you. So what do I mean by resources?
Resources could be people who have been there before and know the path. Whether you know them in person as part of your social network, or you hire a mentor or listen to an audio-book they’ve written to share their thoughts. Resources can also be movies that inspire you, or something that reminds you of a time when you felt a strong positive emotion. I know someone who keeps a little note in her wallet which simply says “Breathe. You’ve got this.” Music is a great resource to inspire positive emotions and lead from one feeling to the next.
I use music all the time to help me trigger a feeling of confidence, happy, excited, motivated or determined. It’s awesome and so easy to do. You can start a playlist of songs that help you feel any positive emotion you choose, then celebrate and play it whenever you choose. I like to play mine before I go out on a date so I’m feeling excited and happy, before going to work so I know I’m ready to get things done, and I play music on the journey from work to home so that I can transition into a different emotion and switch off from work when I walk through my door.
Make a list of the resources you have so that it’s handy, who is someone that you can talk to about anything? What songs do you love to listen to? Is there a movie that it inspiring or helps you laugh and relax? Is there a photo or a quote you can keep with you as a reminder?
There are times that we will feel stuck in a rut and sometimes it’s the little things we do that can give a little hope and room to keep moving forward. Whether it’s perspective from a friend, an inspiring song, a great question you ask yourself, it’s ok to have support and help along your journey.
For me, I chose to build my library of resources up with people who understood how thinking and emotions worked so that I could learn from them, knowing they’d been there before and they knew the path. In this way, I learned so much through doing and asking questions of people who had qualities that I wanted. I got curious about my life and about theirs. I got up and started taking action and applying what I learned. In fact, your capacity for curiosity is one of the biggest resources that you have!
Now instead of sitting on my couch and dreaming about what my life could be like, or what it should be, I’m taking action every day towards my dreams and making them a reality. Asking for help and support along the way has made a massive difference in how quickly I’ve been able to make lasting changes in my life, and the more I notice my little achievements, the more excited I am to keep going. Every day I feel closer to my goals, because I know I’m doing something about it. I still relax and watch movies or read books, only now I do those things after I’ve already taken action that day and got moving. It’s the moving that gives you momentum, and the more you’re moving, the easier it becomes to get out of your rut and to just keep on going.
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