"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." - Vincent Van Gogh

Friday, June 8, 2012

Are you stuck?

I pulled this off my Facebook feed today. How on earth?!?!

Of course I got to thinking.... In the world of dreams (I mean the kind when you are asleep), a car signifies one's life or an aspect of such. When we speak of life we sometimes say, "you are in the driver's seat" or "who is driving your car?".

Sometimes, like in the above image, our lives get off course. We may feel trapped in one or more areas like we are going nowhere. We are blocked, hung up, crashed, etc.

I'm hoping that every one of my readers is in a smooth sailing mode, full speed ahead - but I'm thinking not. Being stuck tends to be a human experience. No matter how hard we work at controlling our lives, we are bound to make some poor decisions that can lead us down the wrong road. And even if by some rarity we are super-people, circumstances and other folks have a way of getting us off track. Sometimes we are so wedged in it would take a miracle or in this case, a crane to get us out!

So what is a person to do who finds themselves in this unfortunate situation?

Most of us start with expletives! Venting, screaming, crying, pacing... jumping up and down. This is our initial response to a crash. It's a great thing, because it relieves the immediate pressure. It must come out.

When that calms down we usually enter the complaining phase. We grumble and speak to anyone who will listen to us about the injustice of life, who put that wall there, how it's not fair, blah blah blah. If we aren't careful of course at this time we can tax our family and friends whose patience eventually wears thin of hearing our complaints. We may even then take our case to a rung higher like the boss if it's a job thing, or the government. That usually gets us nowhere either - except for maybe making matters worse.

Some people get stuck in the bitter phase. We all know people like that, who just can't let it go, who always have a list of gripes and negativity ready to spew out of their mouths whenever we have to unfortunate experience of happening upon them. Maybe there are people like that in your family and you are subject to that every day. There are those who yes, have maybe had it really hard, but don't do a thing to move on. None of us wants to be one of "those" people, who's pain has become their identity. Soon they have no friends and just live in their misery. Their car never moves again. Because misery loves company, soon there are graveyards of cars where they all flock together in a holding pattern of decay.

Which begs the question, are you willing to move? Do you believe that you can get unstuck? Do you think that your car will run again or is it all over for you? Do you even know that you are stuck? Could you be spinning your wheels and yet going nowhere?

If you want to keep traveling down the road of life in your car then there are ways to get out of the mess you are in. It's complicated though and you might not get out without some scratches and dents depending on the severity of the "stuckness".

Right now, consider the areas in your life where you may be wedged against the wall. In fact, put a name on that car for every part of you that's not moving forward. Remember, you only get one car and the years move fast. Life can get away from you if you stall for too long. Some day you may look back and wonder with great regret where all the years have gone and why you didn't do more with what you have been given. When you finally feel ready to retire your car, you want to know that you drove it as hard as you could and that it took you where you needed to go.

Step 1 - A cry for help

I start with a 911 call to the God of the universe.... "HELP ME PLEASE! I can't get out of this mess. My life is not working out as I had planned and I'm feeling really off course. Please give me wisdom as to how to proceed because I know that you don't want me stuck anymore than I want to be in this situation. Please show me what to do."

After my panic prayer I feel quite a bit better because I know that I'm not alone in this. I have an OnStar out there who knows my location and is sending help in the form of massive amounts of love my way. I can trust that I will be guided to the right people. This clears my mind and allows me now to think straight because I'm no longer in the fight/flight mode. This might not happen overnight, depending on your ability to release things. It may take days or weeks to get there. But pouring it out is always a good place to start. (Don't forget those morning papers that you need to write. Do it as a prayer if you want).

A good book/movie about this very topic is "Eat, Pray, Love". Read it or watch the movie if you haven't already and let your mind wander to your own particular circumstances in life.

Step 2 - Help is on it's way

There are many avenues for help to come in. It may be a sudden peace and clarity of mind. A thought hits you and you realize where you went wrong. You might have to backtrack to find your way to the right road. For instance, maybe you made a poor choice in your career, marriage, business investment, place to live, etc that has affected the outcome of your life. You might need to make a few changes and hard decisions.

Now I want to tread carefully here because there are 2 camps of people in this world; those who believe that everything happens for a reason and those who believe that we mold our own destiny. I'm in the middle.  I believe that we have a free will that we exercise and that it results in certain givens and circumstances in our lives. I also believe that if we are faithful to learning and growth, all experiences can turn out for our good, but it doesn't mean that they will be easy or that our good necessarily means joy. I do not believe that we should endure a bad situation for a lifetime so that we CAN grow or that we should manufacture pain in our lives in order to learn perseverance and the merits of suffering. I think there are plenty of opportunities for pain without seeking them out! (Do I hear an AMEN to that!?) And on the flip side, I don't believe that we give up and run away too soon either. I have a tendency to stay in a bad situation longer than I should, exercising patience and endurance but I'm not always sure that's the best idea. You might waste too much time against the wall that way and need a longer stay in the repair shop of life!

Maybe your car is working for most of your scenarios but you are just stuck in your creative endeavors. You know you were born to create, you have a message to share, but you just can't do it because you have no time. The demands of earning a living and supporting a family have choked out your creative juices and given you a flat tire. Again, the solution is to go back to where you missed your mark and start again. Small steps can yield big results over time.

Step 3 - Enlist the support of others

The truth is that when we are stuck we need the support of others. Support groups can be a wonderful thing if there are other people in it that want to keep moving ahead. There is pretty much a support group for everything. People who have kids, people who want kids... people with aging parents and people who's parents died too young....addiction... mental illness...grief...college issues, etc. The list goes on and on. I'd say that in all phases of our lives, we could fit into a number of groups if we find ourselves stuck. Since we can do it all online, you have no excuse not to participate! Support groups aren't for everyone, but if you are feeling waylaid, it's a good place to start. A good support group can give you strength and ideas for getting out of your mess, or at least dealing with it.

Therapy too can help when your issues seem to be of a more personal nature. Sometimes there are things haunting us from our childhood, beliefs that wall us in. Or maybe it's just helpful to get the perspective of an impartial person so you can think things through and find out there is a way out that you hadn't considered before. It's a good thing to get some professional help if you need it.

In addition, life coaching may be right up your alley. It's the goal of a life coach to get your car running down the right road and a good one will have many tricks up their sleeves.

A continuing education course may be the answer to changing your road or enlisting in college or a graduate program.

Traveling abroad may be an idea for you. If you are fortunate you can go on a nice long vacation or perhaps volunteer for an organization that feeds the hungry, cares for orphans, builds homes for the homeless, cares for baby seals, or whatever strikes your fancy.

One thing that I do is google the problem. I google everything! Things like "I hate my job, boss, husband/ wife, life" or "my straight A student didn't get into college"... whatever... The search engine can turn up some very interesting reads. Although sometimes it's like the blind leading the blind, if you glean through the vast number of opinions, you may just find some pearl of wisdom that will direct you.

For all of you I would urge you to find some solace in the form of like minded friends or a peer group. Join a creative group of people who are traveling down the same road as you. They can be your road map on the pavement of life.

Get a mentor in your area of interest. You will be amazed how this catapults you into your destiny.

Quite a few years ago I attended a prayer group full of seasoned prayer warriors. These women were amazing to me! They were so loving and wise and their prayers always seemed to be answered. In fact, I was sure that they had a direct line to God. I wanted to be like one of them when I grew up (I was 28 at the time but felt like a babe compared to them). As I got to know them I found out that they collectively contained an alarming amount of pain in their lives and in the healed scars was their power. If they carried a sword for every battle fought and won, they contained a whole armory! I decided that I would just learn from them by absorbing their wisdom without learning it the hard way - chuckle, cough, cough....

I know now that people who have not hit the wall in a certain area may not be able to help you get out of your predicament. Wisdom comes with a price tag. Those that have paid the price and have successfully kept their cars rolling are those who will best be able to guide you.

And for some of you readers: If you have already found some victory navigating through life's struggles you can now be the one to help someone else get their car unstuck. We are all in this together. There are times we help and other times we need help. We may even be able to help some people in some areas while we are receiving help in other places. Pay it forward!

Life crashes are not the end of the world. They are opportunities for us to re-evaluate the road that we are on and pursue a more healthy course. Hitting the wall may actually be a blessing in disguise, alerting us to the fact we are heading in the wrong direction. But don't be too hard on yourself - you were at least moving, that's admirable. Ok, so you're stuck: stop, breathe, send up a 911 and then look around for the changes that are coming your way!

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