Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Feeling Stuck? One Thing You Must Try Right Now

This post is a little longer than usual because there’s a bit of a story and it’s very personal. I hope it helps you.


Ups and Downs

I’ve got a confession to make. Sorry to disappoint any of you but I find it hard to follow my own advice at times.
As with all of us, life comes and tests me and I wander paths in my mind which I would rather not go down. Before I know it, I’m at a low ebb and beginning to feel that things have got out of control – again.

Last year (2015) was such a year. I was making what seemed like good progress with my health. I was doing a programmes of exercises which I know help my condition (called M.E. or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and was building up stamina, so much so that I was able to swim 1km of my local pool a few times a week and do a daily strenuous walk. By Easter of last year I was feeling probably 90% “normal”.

Then one morning I woke up and realised my health had gone off a cliff. 90% had just turned into 10%. Just at the time when we were refurbishing my daughter’s room too. Monika ended up doing it all. I could perhaps hold something for a couple of minutes for her before needing to go and lie or sit down.


Downs and Ups

I began the slow process of recovery and the next few weeks and months were the typical erratic experience of ME which most people have. However, we enjoyed Monika’s 50th birthday and had a good holiday when I was able to do most things with everyone. However, in the middle of August, things took a turn for the worst and I deteriorated further so that by November, I had to give up walking the dog and making meals. I could look after myself but no one else. My days were spent mostly horizontally.

Anyway, I did start to pick up very slowly from there and round about February time I began making family meals again and in March walking the dog. I’m convinced by now that the consistent recovery I’ve enjoyed since has been due to the meditation habit I’ve developed (more on that in a future post) and by now I’m reasonably well and can do most things.

Anyway, get to the point, Reece.


Okay, here’s the point. I didn’t know why I had those relapses last year.

In the past, I always knew setbacks were down to too much exertion when not fully well or too much background stress. Neither seemed to be the case this time and it unsettled me. Additionally, I’ve had this spell of illness since 2012 which followed on from a very long episode between 2004-2008. All in all, I realised, despite the progress I was making, my confidence was absolutely shot.

The thought of being fully well, for however long or short a period, I realised, seemed like a distant dream.

And then something strange happened.

I’d been making progress (which I'd put down to the meditation habit) but round about April time I stopped meditating consistently and couldn’t get the habit back.

What was all that about?

This really bugged me and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I was really stuck.

So what did I do?

I had a conversation with myself, using some of the coaching techniques I learned and developed five years ago.


Questions, questions

In the shower (no one can interrupt me there), I asked myself, “What do you think is stopping you from meditating?”

“I don’t know,” I replied.

“If you did know, what would you say”, I asked again.

I took a breath and knew that I knew the answer but didn’t want to verbalise it. “Because it doesn’t matter. I don’t matter. It doesn’t matter what I do, I don’t seem to get better.”

My answers, verbalised, rocked me back on my heels. The main thing I had grown convinced could help me, I wasn’t doing because, well, there was no point.

Did I really think that, I asked myself. Well it seemed I did and it wasn’t a good realisation. It made me look more closely at my life situation and I asked myself a further important question about what I wanted for my life and this is where the lack of confidence really hit because I just didn’t know. There didn’t seem to be any point in saying what I wanted because, well, in my mind, my future was pretty bleak.

Stuck. Again.

Then came the question to myself which has put me back on the road to recovery and given me positivity such as I haven’t had in several years.

“What don’t you want to happen?”

Jeez, I knew the answer to that one straight away but the realisation came as a shock nevertheless - I didn’t want to be stuck in the house on my own, a forgotten member of society, feeling like a basket case, when my kids have left home.

(Pause to digest that shock to my system.)

I slowly processed that bit of self-awareness and realised I had the opportunity to turn it into something more positive. I decided then that what I wanted was to re-start my coaching career (baby steps to begin with), re-start my blogging and start earning some money to contribute to the family budget and particularly to Alice’s university upkeep when she goes away next year.

So there you go. That’s what I decided and that’s what I’ve started doing. It’s taken me some further work to get over some pretty challenging mental blocks (more of them soon) but I have started some pro-bono coaching to get me back in the saddle and have posted several times recently on this blog.

Life feels for the first time in a while … unstuck.


My experience reminds me of when I trained as a coach and one of the most memorable lectures I had was with a coach who told us about the experience she’d had when coaching a prisoner, a “lifer”, someone who would be serving up to 30 years in jail. She was trying to establish what he wanted to focus his energies on, what he wanted to achieve, what goals he had but she found it very difficult to establish how he wanted to move forward with his life.

Eventually, she asked him the same question I asked myself, “What don’t you want to happen?”

That was when she knew she’d got through to him. He went quiet and then after thinking, he replied, head bowed and almost whispering, “I don’t want to die in prison”. Dramatic stuff indeed. She then worked with him to transform his fear of the future into a positive goal for how he was going to do everything within his control to be released as early as possible.

What does all this mean to you?

Firstly, you’re not the only one who’s ever felt stuck with how to move forward in their life.

Secondly, if you’re stuck, it may well be because your confidence and self-esteem have taken a battering from life’s cross winds. You may not be able to verbalise your dreams and goals because you’re convinced it’s pointless.

Thirdly, while you may not want any more severe challenges in your life right now, deep down there may be something which you really, really don’t want to happen further down the line? Only you will know what that is.

So, if you are feeling stuck, the one thing that you really need to do is ask yourself that same question.

“What do you not want to happen?”



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Next Post

The next Thrive blogpost will be a one-question interview with Paul McGee, aka The Sumo Guy! Make sure you see it by following Thrive via email (bottom of the page), RSS feed, Google Plus or Facebook (right hand side) or Twitter.


Coming Up

Future blogposts on a terrific strategy for moving forward and how I confronted my mental blocks to progress

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  1. I'd also add a thought that I picked up at a conference I went to on motiavation "if not now, when?"... that stopped me procrastinating (I think that's what I'd been doing) and it made me focus... maybe that's one to think about for a future blog Peter!

  2. Great one Helen. Much appreciated contribution and I'll add it to the list for future posts. :)