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Get Unstuck!

How to Make Progress When You Know What You “Should” Do But You’re Not Doing It

1. Release The Should.

It’s almost never helpful and it tends to create guilt, apathy, and resentment – none of which helps you to get energized and acting.  “Should” is almost always related to a belief system that is in some way faulty… even if the action might be helpful, the way of organizing the thought is not.
For example, “I should loose weight”.   Factually, loosing weight might be good for your health, your appearance, or your success.  Yet if you have “should” attached to your thinking, you are likely telling yourself some version of a negative belief: “I should lose weight because I am not good enough the way I am.”  “I should loose weight because no one will love me this way.”  “I should loose weight because I’ll feel better.”  Even though this last one may seem fully true, it still is a negative thought of lack — it tells you that you don’t feel good right now — and will sap your energy rather than feel genuinely motivating.

2.  Get Real, Get Present

This step is about grounding your energy into the present moment. Take a quick moment to take stock of where you are right now.  Scan your body — what do you notice?  How do you feel?  What’s your emotional state?  What feels true to you around the issue you are focusing on right now?  In our weight example, you might quickly scan and find that your back and knees hurt. Maybe you feel a bit sad and defeated.  Maybe you feel lonely.  Maybe the first thought that comes to your mind is, “I keep trying, but I never follow through on what I say I’m going to do.  I hate feeling so lazy/like a failure/ineffective. What’s wrong with me?”  Maybe your first thoughts are much more positive, or maybe your first thought, if you give yourself permission, is something along the lines of, “oh, not again, who cares anyway!”  Whatever comes up, think of yourself as a witness. You’re not judging, you’re not trying to change anything, you’re just allowing your natural curiosity to gently give permission for whatever is really here to be here, and to be noticed.

Energetically, this simple, quick act of intention has a huge impact.  You are ALWAYS living the profound effects of the sum total of all your thoughts and beliefs and feelings. When you practice giving yourself a chance to drop all the denials, judgements, and “shoulds,” you release tremendous energy that has been tied up in covering or masking “what is.”  Even though we all do it, masking what is sucks up vast amounts of energy without accomplishing what we hope to accomplish.  We are still living the effects of what is really going on underneath, and we feel tired and drained to boot.  It can feel scary to drop our maskes.  Bigger pieces of work benefit from a skilled and loving practitioner.  With enough practice you know, through repeated experience, the wonderful effects of releasing the walls and fears and masks.  You already know that the fear that can come up is just a feeling — you no longer fall into the trap of fearing the fear itself and really upsetting yourself. :)

I like to think of this stage as “playing in the mud.”  I heard a great song somewhere, and old blues riff, that made absolutely delicious fun of dancing in the mud.  You couldn’t help but laugh when you heard it.  “Real” life can get messy.  Getting grounded and messy can be great fun!  And that same spirit of letting loose is a good metaphor for the kind of energetic relief you will feel when you drop a should and bring playful curiosity to the present moment.  Personally, it took me years of working this particular issue to realize the extent of the “should” beliefs I had around weight.  Today, I am heavier  — curvier! — than I used to think I “should” be.  I am also healthier, more fit, and more balanced in both thoughts and action.  I love it and my husband loves it!

3. Vision – Finding Positive Motivation

If you want to change something about your present, you can slam your back up against a wall, set up consequences or embarrasments for failure, hire someone to push you forward, be your own taskmaster, and berate yourself into compliance.  (Ever try this on your kids?  How do you feel when you’re stridently lecturing them on their failure to help out/cleanup/show respect as you think they should?)  Uggh! Sounds horrible to me!  I don’t know about you, but I’ve tried it this way, and the results were never stellar.  I am absolutely passionate about finding what works.  And guess what?  What works is a whole lot easier and more fun than you may have been told!

Imagine what you DO want. Get a picture in your head of the outcome you really desire, that gets you excited and makes your body tingle.  You’re looking for an instant lift, for feedback that what you are imagining is nurturing you, is expanding your energy, is raising your vibration.  If you contract your energy field, if you hunch your shoulders or hold your breath, you are still working from the negative side or from a “should.”  For weight loss, maybe the picture you get is you, feeling marvelous in your radiant body, easily hiking up a mountain or happily running around the park with your kids.  Imagine loving how you look and feel, and how much fun you are having getting to move in this glorious body.  The more you can really immerse yourself in the sensory experience… what does this body feel like, move like, look like, smell like… the more you will be able to notice whether your vision is energy-exspansive or energy-contractive.

4. Practical Steps: Powerful Action Emerges from Vision, Not Guilt

You know that saying, Do What You Love?  I read a great quote today in Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code: “If you don’t love it, you’ll never work hard enough to be great.”  I talk a LOT about taking the easy path.  About going WITH the current.  About how transformation and life in general can by easy and enjoyable.  Does that mean there’s no work?  That I can sit on the couch feeling sorry for myself and extraordinary things will come to me?  Well… No! A nice trick of the universe is that, for one, if you are sitting on the couch feeling sorry for yourself, and that is your habitual state-of-being, then you are unlikely to notice the extraordinary all around you.  For another, my message is not that focus, commitment, and action are unneccesary.  My message is that hard work is easy when you’re in the flow.  Have you ever dragged yourself to the gym after a long day of work, dithered around, maybe listlessly gotten on the treadmill after taking 20 minutes to change into your gym clothes?  The slow pace and low incline felt hard, and after forcing yourself to get on there for 10 or 15 or 20 minutes, you’re off and maybe there’s a hot tub?  Contrast that with the last time you had a blast being active.  Maybe you were dancing the night away, or, if you’re like me, maybe the mountain was so enticing, the air so fresh, the question of what’s around the next bend so curious, that your long strides ate up the hours.  Do you believe me when I tell you that ALL your experiences, your work — from personal growth to exercise to housecleaning to projects for your job — have the potential to feel like that?

From that exspansive, feel good vision of where you want to get to, list three actions that will move you forward.  These need to be concrete, practical, and attainable.  In our weight example,  you might have a list that for this week says:

  1. 2 walks/hikes up Blue Mountain
  2. My delicious huge quick salads for lunch — with avacado OR my homemade dressing, but not both
  3. No fast food

Whatever your list looks like, for whatever goal you are moving towards, the idea is to move you from Where You Are to Where You Prefer to Be in steps that are both productive (they DO move you towards your goal) and also light, do-able, and maintianable.

Potential Traps:

  1. If you are still coming from a place of negative self-talk, your list will be too harsh.  Depending on your personality, resources, and belief system, you may get seemingly fast-track results.  In my experience, its smoke and mirrors.  The work is shoddy, it feels hard, and you slip back to where you started, feeling badly about yourself, and creating more evidence for yourself that whatever “it” is is hard, or unfair, or whatever.
  2. Sometimes, clients do this exercise and come back to me and say, “Ok, I have a list that feels good and doesn’t fill me with overwhelm, but my list is much too short!  I can’t do JUST that, Ill never get anything done.  I have way more responsibilities at work/home/the PTA.  So and so is counting on me to xyz.” This is an issue that needs it’s own book.  I am just going to say here that all the steps outlined above are as profound or as simple as you want to make them.  They can help you get the sink clean and they can help you stop self-sabatoging and experience joyful success in your business, your relationships, and your inner life.  If you consistently feel exhausted, overwhelmed, put upon, and defeated; if the thought of doing less panics you; OR if you find that you are doing less only by the default of getting sicker and sicker… then you have discovered self-care and boundary issues.  Depending on where you are in the journey, it will either feel like the world will absolutely end if you stop long enough to take care of yourself; or a nurturing rest will feel like the most divine thing in the world but you can’t figure out how to give it to yourself. The world won’t end, you do deserve positive nurturing self-care, you can do it, and a whole new world is waiting for you out the other side.

5. Celebrate

Celebrate each step you take.  Make time to write down your successes every day and to express gratitude for everything you DO want.  It’s not necessary to cover up or hide from what you don’t like in your life — in fact that causes problems as discussed above.  But I encourage you to try this for three days. Release the should, get real, imagine the best outcome ever, pick three I-can-do-that-right-now actions that feed that exspansive, visionary energy.  See how performing those actions feels.  Celebrate and express gratitude. Stay focused on the higher vibrations, the positive, feel great parts of what is already here.

Share your successes!  Ask questions!  I encourage comments, I read them all, and I’d love to hear from you!

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1 Comment to Get Unstuck!

  1. Rod's Gravatar Rod
    May 3, 2010 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Yup. Feeling guilty about not walking or exercising doesn’t help. Reminding ourselves that we are off to Greece in the fall and want to be able to walk around all the fascinating places we are going to visit without gewtting all tuckered out does help… and gets us walking to get in shape now!

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