When I was seventeen, I bought a little blackboard that said: “Only when we’re lost can we find ourselves again.”
Since then, I’ve displayed it in every apartment I’ve ever lived in. It serves as a reminder that losing your sense of direction or feeling stuck in life isn’t this evil thing we must avoid at all costs.
On the contrary, it’s an inevitable part of life. You won’t always know where you’re going. And that’s okay.
The fact that you’re stuck means only one thing: soon, clarity will come to you. Soon, the tides will turn.
If you want to speed up the process, say goodbye to these 7 behaviors.
1) Reinforcing the vicious cycle of misery
When you’re stuck, it usually means you feel pretty miserable.
You don’t know what you’re doing with your life, so you might just as well play computer games all day.
You feel like you have no purpose, so you order McDonald’s and eat your feelings.
You’re in a rubbish mood, so you stay in bed and watch TV all day.
Been there, done that.
Confusion, frustration, and disappointment usually give rise to inaction and bad habits that make you feel even worse, which in turn magnifies all those negative feelings, leading to more inaction and bad habits…
I think you got the point.
The reason you’re stuck in a vicious cycle is that you’re actively reinforcing it through bad decisions that make you feel better in the short term but bring you down in the long run.
Instead of playing computer games, go on a mindful walk.
Instead of eating McDonald’s, make yourself a nutritious Buddha bowl.
Instead of watching TV, grab a book.
Every single decision you make is your chance to unravel the cycle and rise above it.
2) Limiting your potential
Okay, now that you’re out of the loop of bad habits, it’s time to shift your mindset.
Four years ago, I had no clue what I was doing with my life. I knew I wanted to be a writer, but that dream seemed as unrealistic as a rainbow unicorn.
And that’s because I thought I could only reach that goal if I was a traditionally published fiction author. I was limiting my potential so much that a whole alphabet of options shrunk to one single X: either you have a book published, or you don’t.
Then I realized that there existed many more venues I could try, such as writing non-fiction online articles (like this one), self-publishing, blogging, and submitting my work to various competitions.
Open your eyes. Maybe there’s another way to make your dreams a reality. Maybe you’ve just got to get a little creative.
3) Living in your head and never taking action
So, you’ve decided you actually really want to paint. Now it’s time to write down your plan step by step, work on your craft, build different streams of income, and wave goodbye to your corporate job, right?
Except that’s not what you’re doing. You got stuck at “want to paint” and never took active steps to turn that abstract concept into something concrete and achievable.
Two years later, you’re still working the same finance job and daydreaming of painting in an atelier you don’t have.
Don’t worry, we’ve all been guilty of this. Just this summer, it took me about three months to finally kick myself in the butt and start a blog after having thought about it for years.
But I did it.
Now it’s your turn.
4) Giving in to self-sabotage
In The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level, Gay Hendricks says that we all have an Upper Limit Problem.
“Each of us has an inner thermostat setting that determines how much love, success, and creativity we allow ourselves to enjoy. When we exceed our inner thermostat setting, we will often do something to sabotage ourselves, causing us to drop back into the old, familiar zone where we feel secure.”
It definitely did to me when I read the words for the first time.
That was the moment I realized that each time things were going well for me – my career was thriving, my love life was in a good place, I’d managed to maintain healthy habits for a long time – I always found a way to make myself just a little bit miserable.
I got extremely anxious about money even though I had enough. I picked a fight with my partner. I ate two bars of chocolate in one sitting.
Good old self-sabotage was bringing my happiness levels down because I subconsciously didn’t want to cross the Upper Limit I had set up for myself.
Are you doing the same? Every time something’s going great for you, are you trying to ruin it just a little bit?
The moment you recognize that you’re self-sabotaging yourself is the moment you can snap yourself out of it.
5) Talking down to yourself
Look, you’re not going to get anywhere if you keep telling yourself how much of a loser you are.
Thanks to neuroplasticity, your brain can physically change based on what thoughts you feed it, which means that the more you talk down to yourself, the more likely you are to have those thoughts on a regular basis.
And since cognitive dissonance is a thing (the state of having contradictory thoughts or displaying actions that go against your internal beliefs and attitudes), *thinking* that you’ll never get anywhere might make it so that you never even *try* to get anywhere.
Your actions will align with your thoughts, and you’ll stay stuck for longer.
Give self-compassion a chance for once. It tends to yield much better results.
6) Hiding behind sarcasm and cringe
While I’m aware that saying “I am the co-creator of my universe and I attract abundance” might make quite a lot of people cringe, I also know that all my genuinely happy and successful friends are pretty cringe-resilient.
They don’t use sarcasm as a shield against vulnerability. They don’t hide behind self-deprecating humor. They don’t shun self-help books, manifestation, and spiritual discussions.
On the contrary, many of them praise meditation, positive affirmations, and visualization. They don’t find spiritual sincerity and self-love cringy. They know that those things are incredibly powerful if you have the courage to open up to them.
If you want to stop feeling stuck in life, a very effective way forward is to stop caring about what other people think.
Thus, stop letting cringe rule what you allow yourself to do and feel.
7) Thinking you’re not “ready”
Here’s a simple truth: you’ll never be ready.
You just won’t. In order to feel 100% ready, you’d first need to rehearse and rehearse and then rehearse some more, but the problem with life is that you rarely get to rehearse anything.
Oftentimes, you just have to decide if you’re going to jump in or not. And if you do, you have to trust that you’ll be able to swim to the shore.
Most successful people are never ready to go and chase their dreams. But they do it anyway because they know that it’s always better to do something than nothing at all.
An imperfect step forward is better than no step at all.