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“It’s not what you would have wished for,
It’s certainly not what you are wishing for.
It’s contrary to everything you’d want for yourself,
Yet, you have to deal with it.
And as much as you try, you can’t make sense of it.
Everywhere you look around,
There is chaos and disappointment.
You encounter walls with every step and you don’t know which way to go;
So you sit and sulk and wonder if this will ever change.
Hoping and wishing the wall would move
But it doesn’t.
It stays and so do you.
You stay where you are
Hoping and wishing that things would change…
Even though things are not what you’d wished for,
And they’re not the way you want them to be.
For now, it is what it is
Till, something else comes along that’s meant to be…”
Life is not always kind and we all know that.
We hope and wish for something, but we’re given something else entirely, and we’re left wondering what to do about it.
For some of us, our entire life has been about making sense of everything that seemed and was out of our control. While for some, it keeps coming up in spurts.
And we’re always swinging between what we hope and wish could change and what we can’t change.
However, most often, when sh*t hits the roof and there is chaos everywhere, we tend to gravitate toward trying to control the uncontrollable, that is, the outside world—which is made up of other people, their situations, attitudes, behaviors, and so on.
We get “stuck” because our focus is on trying to change something that lies outside our domain when the only thing that we can focus on is what lies within our purview.
As Stephen Covey wrote in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, we’re always operating in two circles:
1. Circle of Concern: Where we can be worried and concerned about anything and everything in this world but can’t do anything to change it. We can worry, crib, argue, blame, and criticize our parents, partners, kids, colleagues, or any other situation for being the way it is and derive nothing out of it. It always, without fail, leaves us in a state of misery because it simply leaves us anxious, worried, sleepless, and helpless.
2. Circle of Influence: This is made up of all the things that we can actually do something about, which almost always comprises taking charge of our own thoughts, feelings, efforts, and behaviors.
Most of us end up spending all or the majority of our time trying to change things or people who we have no direct control or influence over.
We blame people and situations for the way they are.
We often get lost in how others and situations “should be.”
We fight to change others.
And all of this yields nothing and when we see that nothing is changing, we end up feeling stuck, helpless, and hopeless.
The fact is that life will always throw curveballs at us.
We will keep encountering difficult people and situations.
Where we choose to focus will ultimately determine whether we move forward or stay stuck in the pit of darkness and despair.
“You have to stop thinking that you will be stuck in your current situation forever. We feel like our hearts will never heal or we’ll never get out of this impossible struggle. Don’t confuse a season with a lifetime. Even your trials have an expiration date. You will grow, life will change, things will work out. ~ Brittney Moses
And we can hope and wish all we want. But the fact is that hoping and wishing without any constructive action will amount to nothing.
“The only thing that feels worse than being stuck in a situation that makes you unhappy is realising that you are not ready or unwilling to change whatever it is.” ~ Ashley Lorenzana
Therefore, in order to support ourselves to get out of this “stuckness,” we need to keep the following in mind:
1. Move away from control to taking charge: The idea of controlling self and others is restrictive. It stems from a place of fear and insecurity. It keeps us obsessively focused on outcomes and results which we cannot predict and makes us want to tighten the noose around whatever it is that we’re afraid of losing. We’re always focusing on what can go wrong. However, when allowing ourselves to take charge of whatever we can in a given situation, we allow our inner voice to surface without any insecurity. We operate from a space of choice. We choose what we can realistically focus on and allow ourselves to choose the best available option.
2. Shift the focus inward: An outward focus will only yield anxiety, insecurity, and despair. People will change if and when they want to. Some external circumstances will not be under our direct influence. In every given situation, we can only focus on our thoughts, emotions, efforts, and behaviors. It’s only when we start doing this for ourselves that we start to make sense of the larger picture.
3. Accept what you can’t change and change what you can: An inward focus gives you an insight into what is worth spending your time and energy on and what it isn’t. It allows you to accept things and people the way they are with the understanding that acceptance is not resignation. Rather, it is about telling yourself that it is what it is. We can wish and hope for things to be different. But to be able to move forward, we need to take our rose-colored glasses off and see the world for the way it exists.
4. Identify your supportive factors and capitalize on them: Even in the worst of the situations, there would be things and people supporting you in some way or the other. And while our mind conveniently puts them aside rendering them unimportant, it is necessary for us to identify and capitalise on them. Just like soldiers need reinforcements to fight the war, so do we!
5. Identify what’s not supporting you and see which circle you need to fit it into: If it’s something you cannot change or influence, then it’s wise to drop the battle and save your energies for what you can actually influence.
6. Develop healthy coping mechanisms: When we encounter difficult people and situations, it’s convenient to get into habits that give us short-term comfort but can extract a heavy cost in the long run. Therefore, challenging times require us to be even more mindful of our coping mechanisms.
7. Allow space to make mistakes: We are all fallible. When challenged, we may slip and fall and that’s okay. These situations are our learning ground. Mistakes make us human and enable us to grow. After all, we don’t know everything about everything…do we?
8. Set boundaries: In tough times, we tend to swing into extremes—either do nothing at all or overextend. It’s important to say no to things, people, and situations when going through a difficult phase to conserve our energy.
9. Cut yourself some slack: It’s important to remind yourself that you’re doing the best that you can and you of all the people in the world need to hold yourself with kindness and compassion.
10. Don’t forget to extract the learnings from your hardships: As clichéd as it sounds, all hardships are meant to teach us something, and whether we want to take those learnings and move forward or not is up to us.
So what is this situation teaching you?