Updated: Dec 27, 2018
I can't remember how many times I've written about this in one form or another. In my work as a coach I work with many people who are stuck: in the past, in the present, or even in the future. Sometimes we can get so stuck on an event that happened, how bad things are right now, or possible negative outcomes in the future that we don't see the possibilities right in front of us. Yet, if you are courageous enough to embrace it, there is a NEXT on the horizon that can springboard you to where you have been trying to go.
Yes, I meant every word of that over-the-top optimism.
Disappointments and heartbreaks happen to everyone, but how well you recover depends on your ability to embrace the NEXT thing for you. Depending on where you are emotionally right now, you might feel I (a) have no idea what you're going through (you're right), (b) there is no next for me after this (not true), or (c) "maybe I will try hoping, one more time."
Being stuck in the past often means going over an event or series of events to figure out how you could have changed the outcome. You might use words like, "If only I had...." This is a pointless exercise that can keep you in a loop of self-condemning thoughts. You can't undo yesterday, but you can do the work of being better today and tomorrow. Is your struggle relationships? Consider why the same type of people are drawn to you? How can your next relationship be different? Who do you need to be tomorrow to not make the same mistake as today?
Being stuck in the present is to assume that however things are now is the way they will always be. This mindset can either lull you into a passivity that will leave you unprepared for change or create hopelessness that stops you from trying something new. This thinking makes me think of a hamster on a wheel: running in the same direction, with the same view at roughly the same speed, but never leaving the cage. Unlike the hamster, you can choose change, or you can wait for it to happen without your choosing.
When I talk of being stuck in the future I'm speaking of maintaining a cloudy forecast of what's next in your life. I understand during a rough time it may seem like things will never get better, but they can and will if you are courageous enough to envision and work towards a different future. If you're still not sure what being stuck in the future looks like, consider this note from Wikipedia about Anxiety. "Anxiety is not the same as fear, which is a response to a real or perceived immediate threat, whereas anxiety is the expectation of future threat."
If you are stuck in one of these places, here are the ABCs of Embracing What's Next For You:
Assess where you are. Do you want something new but feel powerless to embrace it because of past events, present circumstances or fears about what may happen if you try? Is there a belief that you don't deserve the things that you want, or have disqualified yourself from "next" because of some failure? Identify the source of your hindrance as best as you can. Consider 1 Kings 19:11-13
Bold and Vulnerable. Is there someone who knows you and will tell you the truth about your circumstances? Can that person be trusted to tell you if your perspective about the past or present is off? Relationships are a gift when they are healthy and a lesson when they are not. Ask for help from a trustworthy friend or relative. Be vulnerable enough to show where you are hurting and bold enough to admit your role in being stuck. Consider Proverbs 27:6. Read it in the Amplified Bible if you can.
Choose. Faced with the truth, you must to choose the unfamiliar way of embracing what's next or staying where you are. Without accurate information our choices are limited, but with correct information you now get to make an informed choice. Consider Deuteronomy 30:15
Dream Have you thought about what you would like to be doing at this juncture in your life? Take those dreams out and look at them again. Give yourself permission to consider a different future. You may even choose something you had never thought of before. Go for it! You are only limited by you. Consider Joshua 1:1-6
Michele Aikens is a transitional life coach. You can connect with her on Twitter @SepiaPrimeWoman or via www.micheleaikens.com