shifting gears when stuck.

what are the ways we can shift gears in our thinking, our being, our “stuckness” that sometimes gets the best of us? this is a question i think of often when i hear how people keep getting stuck in old patterns of thinking and want out — whether they feel like they are stuck in their head, frozen in a timeless space, trapped spinning in their hamster ball, or something else. many of these metaphors relate to a sense of stagnation or of trying to move but not getting anywhere. there’s a repetition that happens in the way the brain keeps computing the same things over and over, going nowhere different. the closed circuit.

there are so many ways to do it, and each person is the best researcher for how they can personally get out in life affirming ways. it takes awareness, motivation, and newness — sometimes playfulness or creativity. when individuals get used to feeling a doomed sense of gravity or heaviness about a way of thinking that repeats for them, Seriousness wins. and what goes with that so easily but that nuisance of “taking ourselves so seriously.” what is the antidote?

and how is it possible to switch gears from taking ourselves so seriously?

hear are a few things that work for some people. this list could go on forever, as everyone finds their own ways to pass through their quicksands of sorts.

1. doing something physical. i.e. yoga. exercise. going on a vigorous bike ride. swimming. taking a hot shower. playing with an animal.

2. doing something creative (that kicks a different part of our brain into activity). i.e. stream-of-consciousness writing. dancing. drawing. painting. playing guitar or any other instrument. singing. moving how your body wants to move in a private space without judgement and with permission to do strange things.

3. listening to something that brings you to another place. music and radio shows both can work. i’ve found that there are two podcasts that open up a sense of wonder and curiosity for many (not all) people, this american life and radiolab. suddenly by listening to something new, outside of the stuckness, and by experiencing new wonder or curiosity, movement can happen. if fact, the radiolab effect is taking place far and wide.

4. meditating. for some people this can be a huge help. however for some, the stillness of it isn’t the right medicine when they feel stuck. it takes practice to be able to put one’s attention on focusing on the breath and not giving much importance to thoughts that come. when stuckness comes with unwanted thoughts, oftentimes a cultivated practice of labeling thoughts as simply “thought,” each time with gentleness, and then returning back to the breath refocuses the mind.

5. watching a movie or tv show that engages you in a lighter, less serious way. also, another thing that works for some, not for all. if it works, why not?

6. engaging with another person. the presence of other people, especially close and comfortable people, can sometimes help tremendously. or maybe being alone and trying another means until the stuckness passes feels better.

these are only six. there are many more. if anything feels useful, take it. if it doesn’t, click onward.

to movement.


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