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Ideally, we’d all be thriving in a life that fits, and reflects, who we really are. But few of us learnt how to do this.
Instead, we were taught to live in ways that help us materially survive and succeed.
We take on roles, jobs, and relationships by accident or chance; or because they seem logical; or help us to get by; or meet with external approval ...rather based on our own deep desires, values, and dreams.
In the process, we end-up pushing ourself to be, and do, things that don't really please, or fulfil, us.
We get used to putting on a brave face, and pretending everything's ok.
In time, this creates inner tension and struggle, as we end-up working against our true self.
We begin to sense that something's missing, wrong, or off.
A vague restlessness, dissatisfaction, and unease seeps into the background of our days.
Life begins to feel effortful, and dull, but we push on thinking it's the only way.
We can live like this for months, years, or even decades until, one day, the struggle begins to get to us.
We start to melt-down, burn-out, and wake-up.
When we're in this place, it can be hard to see a way through.
We don't want to make hasty decisions, but we want things to improve.
The following 6 steps offer you a way to move forwards, and give you a strong foundation from which to grow, without you having to do anything drastic (at least until you're ready to).
Step 1: Admit Where You're At
As a smart, capable women you've worked hard, achieved a lot, and kept it all together for a long time.
So, when you find yourself stuck, and struggling, it can be hard to admit, even to yourself.
It might feel like some kind of punishment, betrayal, or personal failure.
So, it's tempting to push-on, and ignore what's really happening.
But, usually, this approach doesn't make things better, and resisting your truth just creates more friction and pain.
Getting honest with yourself is the first step to any real change.
You can only address an issue when you acknowledge it's there.
This might take time to digest, and there's no need to rush it but, as soon as you admit that you're struggling, you begin to make progress.
Step 2: Allow Your Feelings
When you're stuck, and struggling, you go through all sorts of difficult feelings.
You can feel lost, stressed, trapped, bored, empty, frustrated, hopeless, helpless, miserable, unfulfilled, or all these things and more.
These difficult feelings are made all the harder, because society typically judges them as bad, weird, irrational, or wrong. You can then think you're bad, weird, irrational, or wrong for experiencing them.
The general lack of understanding, and tolerance, for such difficult feelings means you're often encouraged to dismiss, ignore, rationalise, or push them away.
But this is a mistake.
Your feelings are there for a reason. They're trying to tell you something about yourself and your life.
Ignored feelings rarely go away, they get squashed inside of yourself, which creates tension, dis-ease, and pain.
To live a more authentic, thriving life you have to allow, and express, your feelings.
You can start to do this in the most gentle of ways, and it will still initiate change.
You can write about how you feel in a private journal; make some expressive art about it; talk it through with a trusted friend; dance it out; or work with a therapist, guide, or coach.
How it looks isn't important. What matters is that you begin to let some of the stuck, and struggle, out in ways that feel freeing and safe as, ultimately, this will bring you more inner peace, clarity, and contentment.
❸ Reclaim Your Power
The longer you're stuck, struggling, pretending, and pushing your way through life, the more likely you've begun to, unintentionally, give your power away. Maybe you:
➣ hide, deny, and repress who you are in order to people-please and approval seek.
➣ avoid making decisions or speaking-up for yourself.
➣ feel helpless to act on your own behalf, and make a change.
You forget that you're a powerful co-creator, and that you're always helping to shape yourself, and your life.
Before you can thrive, you've got to take back some of your power, so you can strengthen and grow.
Start with the small things, and work your way up.
If you always seek a second opinion, practice deciding for yourself.
If you always say yes, when you want to say no, practice saying no.
If you find it hard to make everyday choices, like choosing what to eat, practice making a choice for yourself.
What you do for and give to others, begin to do for and give to yourself.
Step 4: Dream Big, Start Small
When you're stuck, and struggling, it's tempting to look for quick fixes, logical solutions, and a clear path to help you quickly improve your situation.
But, at a time like this, you need to let yourself dream, otherwise you can end-up stuck in the same old s**t, further down the line.
Society sometimes sees dreams as naive, selfish, unrealistic, grandiose, impractical, impossible, and the like.
But your dreams hold important clues about who you really are, what you really want, and what might be possible for you, and your life.
Your dreams aren't just about arriving at some ultimate destination. They guide you towards a more thriving, and fulfilling, life.
Let yourself dream big. Who would you love to be? What would you love to do? How would you love to live?
Then, begin to move towards these things in small, manageable steps.
If you only focus on what's realistic, logical, or seemingly possible you'll chop the legs off your dreams before you begin.
Your dreams need you on their side, and magical things happen all of the time.
Step 5: Get Out Of Your Head
One thing that keeps you stuck, and struggling, in life is spending too much time in your head.
You were taught to think, judge, plan, problem-solve, critique, compare, predict, and to do what's logical, sensible, and rational.
These things help you to get-by, and survive, which is a good thing but, alone, they rarely help you thrive.
When you spend all your time lost in these mental dynamics, you forget to really inhabit your life.
Your mind's an amazing instrument, but it's not your only intelligence.
There's also the intelligence of your heart, creative spirit, and deeper Self.
These are the parts of you that help you to experience those things that make life worth living, like wonder, beauty, possibility, knowing, connection, peace, and love.
Typically, you're taught to tame your heart, creative spirit, and deeper Self and unleash the power of your mind.
But, this can leave you feeling empty, and at the mercy of your thoughts.
In order to thrive, you need to redress the balance. You need to begin to tame your mind, and unleash the power of your heart, creative spirit, and deeper Self.
Step 6: Take Positive Action
When you're stuck, and struggling, in your outer life, you can bet you're stuck, and struggling, inside.
You've given away your power (step 3); got stuck in your head (step 5); or stopped taking positive action on your own behalf.
You might've stopped taking positive action because:
➣ you're frightened to take responsibility for your life.
➣ you second-guess yourself and procrastinate.
➢ a fear of failure, and rejection, keeps you stalling.
➢ you want more, but feel greedy, selfish, or unworthy.
➢ you try to think, wish, or whine your way out of your situation.
These inner blocks can make you feel powerless, hopeless, and drained, and stop you from acting to make a change, which keeps you stuck in the same old struggle.
If you want to get unstuck, and thrive more, you have to begin taking some kind of action, no matter how small, because no-one's going to come and do it for you.
A great place to start is with those 5 steps outlined above, as they will help you to move forwards.
So, there you have it, my 6 steps to help you go from struggling to thriving in your life, without having to take drastic action.
I can vouch for the value of each, and every one, of them because they've all helped me along my own path to thriving.
If you've got questions about this then do get in touch or, if you want to take the conversation deeper, share your thoughts with us over in our free online community.