With the deadline for an important business-related opportunity looming, I began my day today with a sinking sensation in my heart and stomach. I have been tossing ideas around for well over a week now, and none of them stood out. Where will I begin? How can I put a unique spin on this project? Am I going to lose this opportunity? I was stuck, clearly and simply stuck.
Now this is just the sort of thing that I help my clients with each and every day. I am the queen of getting "unstuck!" One would think that getting unstuck would be easy for me. Not always. Not today.
I was inclined to get straight to my office this morning so that I could push my creative abilities to the max. But haven’t I already done that? The struggle within me was so strong that it was zapping my energy and I just wanted to climb back into bed. But my stubborn side won out, and I threw on some old clothes to head out with the dogs, hoping that we could all work off some nervous energy.
When we are feeling stuck it’s not always easy to transition the mind to a calm and still place. The temptation to think harder and allow the stress to elevate is almost like an addiction. But as soon as my feet hit the ground with nothing but grass, a lake, and the sky surrounding me, I was offered a gentle reminder that I could choose to let go of my worry.
Worry creates resistance to calmness and confidence and is a speedy path to the Land of Stuck, as I call it. The more we resist, fight, and worry, the deeper into the quicksand we go. The answers cannot possibly penetrate that thick, murky sludge that holds the creative mind captive. With that reminder, I was able to quickly let go of my frustration and self-doubt in absolute faith that the answers would come. I walked those fields thinking only of the good in my life, increasing my sense of peace and confidence. I knew, without a doubt, that I would arrive at my desired destination, this place of letting go of resistance and allowing the answers to arrive as and when they will.
And arrive they did! Once I found myself in this state of allowing, my energy was restored, and creativity and logic flowed once again. So it was with great relief and joy that I piled the dogs back into the Jeep with my next steps clearly defined. "Thank you, thank you, thank you," I said. Whew! Rescued again!
I had many choices before me as I rolled out of bed this morning. I could continue to worry and fret, crawl back under the covers, give up altogether, or open my mind to all of the endless possibilities. We all have those choices when faced with challenge. And we are not always going to make the most productive, healthy choice, but that’s just another lesson, isn’t it?
So how can you still your mind and step into an open-minded state so that the answers will come to you more easily and effectively? If you are well-rehearsed in this mindset I hope this serves as a simple reminder for you. If you have the tendency to live in a place of struggle and resistance, here are a few simple steps to begin your journey away from the Land of Stuck.
- Make a practice of expressing your gratitude for the simple, every day things in life. First thing in the morning and last thing at night, remind yourself of all of the good in your world.
- Take a two or three minute break several times a day to simply clear your mind. Take in several deep breaths, moving the air all of the way into your solar plexus and exhaling through your mouth. Practice this process several times a day and soon your mind, and body, will begin to get the message!
- Write your "problem" down on a piece of paper, acknowledge that you will solve the problem with ease and set the paper aside. This is a symbolic reminder that as you let go of the issue your mind will clear and the solutions are free to find their way in. Now this differs from pushing your problems away and going into a state of denial; pretending your problems don’t exist will not solve anything. The key here is to step into a place of knowing that the answers are there for you always and of allowing the space for them to arrive.
- Take in the beauty of nature. Surrounding ourselves with something larger and grander than we are is a wonderful reminder of how small our problems truly are. A shift of perspective is in order when we are struggling and nature’s beauty is one sure way to achieve it. Nature doesn’t think; it just is.
- Remove yourself from the problem by taking in a good work out so that you expel your energy in a productive, healthy way. A good workout will clear your mind, like an eraser on a chalkboard.
- Choose the next best feeling. If you are feeling frustrated and overwhelmed you will not be productive and you certainly won’t be creative. But to expect yourself to feel joyful and accomplished in a moment’s time may be unrealistic. So take a step up the emotional scale to the next best feeling. Take a few deep breaths and consciously choose a new state of mind, a different mood. If you are feeling frustrated you might be able to move into “slightly annoyed,” yet calmer. This will allow you to sort out the next step or two, and put the puzzle pieces together with greater ease and continue to improve your mood.
What tips do you have for releasing your resistance and stress to move into a state of allowing? How do you tap into your creativity and productive problem-solving mode when you are overwhelmed and fearful? Share with us here!
If you have a difficult time letting go of your stress check out this simple process that I call, "Transforming Your Stress."
Marla Tabaka is a small-business advisor who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She has over 25 years of experience in corporate and start-up ventures and speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness.