Have you ever felt stuck in life? I have. And when I realized that it is not the problem itself, but my own perception of it that is causing me to feel this way… that is when I became super-curious to find out what triggers such a ‘state of mind’ in the first place.
I started studying the matter by reading all kinds of scientific studies, subject matter experts and beyond. The more I explored it, the more fascinated I became.I realized, once again, how big of a role our physical and mental wiring play in generating our “mind-states” or “stuck states.”
In other words, when a barrier shows up and it seems unsolvable or bigger than you, at that particular moment, you automatically fall into the so-called “stuck state” where you feel frustrated and experience a lot of resistance in taking further action.
We forget the fact that we live in a total paradox, where we are always caught between the two powerful and contradictory realities.
This state of mind (getting stuck) is triggered by the two contradictory forces that are continuously in competition with each other. We are talking about plain old physics here. These two forces throw your mental, physical and emotional apparatus off balance by making you shift back and forth between the two possible realities.
Think of a problem you have been unable to solve in your personal or professional life… where part of you wanted to push forward and succeed, while another part of you wanted to pull back and avoid the risk of failing.
This war between the push-and-pull forces creates two opposing outcomes that YOU THINK you want at the same time and THAT is where you build a trap for yourself, which automatically manifests in a “stuck state.” Hello uncertainty.
In other words, it is a situation where you know you want to accomplish results in a specific area of your life, like relationship, finances or health, but every time you try to progress, you pull back internally.
I remember when I got invited to my first TV interview. Part of me was all excited that I’ll get to share my thoughts on the air; while another part of me, a deeper part, wanted to avoid the whole uncomfortable scene because I’ve never done it before and WHAT IF… it will go wrong.
Do I cancel the TV interview and not take on something I am not familiar with…or do I move forward, and explore?
Here is what it looks like when these two forces are at play internally:
Speaking of my TV interview invitation, I knew that the more I’ll be bouncing back and forth between the two contradictory forces, the deeper hole I’ll dig myself into.
That hole is a “stuck state,” which will stop me (and waste my time) from taking the necessary action in moving forward AND learning from my experience going through with it.
How do you minimize this oscillation that produces a “stuck state” and prevents you from achieving your desired result?
In order to minimize the swing, you must find that sweet middle, that fine BALANCE between the two opposing forces (in other words, the two opposing thoughts in your head that confuse you and keep you from taking action).
Here is another caveat. The traditional self-improvement model has been misleading us for years by proving that, when we go from the Present Situation to the Future Situation, we leave the Negative/Bad experience behind and face only a Positive/Great experience in the Future.
In other words, in order to get to the Positive experience, you must leave the Negative experience behind. This approach is impossible.
How is it possible that you’ll never bump into Negative experience in the Future?Maybe you can if you stay static, lock yourself up and never face the outside world.
While, on the other hand, nothing is static, and as the world is changing so rapidly, you MUST learn how to adapt and solve problems fast and get out of your own way.
As you learn new things and grow, you automatically raise your standards, and with it, you open the door for new challenges. So, how can you really escape the so-called “negative experience” and only keep immersing yourself in the Positive?
You simply can’t pick sides. You have to face them both even when you are learning how to ride a bicycle or skateboard for the very first time. You will have to fall and bruise your knees a few times until you learn how to balance.
So, there is no steady line when it comes to your life process. But, as you grow and develop, you’ll always keep moving up, and sometimes you’ll trip and fall, and then you’ll get up, and move upward… while experiencing small bursts of negative and positive experiences at the same time.
As you keep going up, your lows will never be as low and your highs will always be higher.
In the meantime, you learn how to overcome obstacles faster and with less resistance, because you know that it is part of your learning process.
Now, if you stick with the old model, where you always keep running away from the Negative experience (only hope for the Positive), a small obstacle will make you trip and stuck.
The problem with this is that you’ll never become good at something, because you’re not challenging yourself enough.
For instance, how can you become a good skier if you never leave “bunny hills” (green ski runs) and try a black diamond mountain? You have to be willing to get on the big mountain, fall and learn in order to get better. Otherwise, we get stuck on ‘bunny slopes’ and complain how boring skiing is.
Therefore, finding balance is the key to the whole equation. When I speak of balance, I mean balancing the Pull and Push forces and using them to your advantage, rather than settling with one extreme or the other. How so?
You can’t stop and go at the same time. That is your “stuck state.”
Picture a see saw where kids sit on each end of it and swing up and down by pushing the ground.
Now picture yourself hopping on top of the seesaw (with nobody on) and walking from one end to another. One side of the seesaw is your Pull force, and the other is your Push force.
As you walk from one side to another, the plank of wood will swing with you, and you end up with one force or the other. And this is how your mind looks like when it starts swinging from one end to another. Bang – Bang. No smoothness or flow whatsoever.
Now, while you are on top of the seesaw, instead of running from one end to another, try to stand in the middle of it, where with both legs spread out you can balance the weight.
As a child, you probably have done it multiple times. I’ve done it plenty. Now, when you manage to balance a seesaw, the entire scenario changes. You are in charge, and you choose which direction you need to lean a bit towards to get yourself out of a stuck state.
FLEXIBILITY is the key to achieving balance. Flexibility is what we usually lack the most, especially, when we hit a stuck state.
As soon as you stop being flexible, you lose BALANCE and control over the two opposing forces, where one force pulls and the other opposes, while creating confusion and an experience of being stuck.
It is important to understand that everything about you operates with opposing forces.
The entire structure of your muscles and nervous system…EVEN your personality… all of them use opposing forces in this push-and-pull design.
For example your muscle structure has two types of muscles - extensor and flexor.They allow you to move forward and backward, and stop anywhere in between. Talk about counterbalance!
The same opposing forces apply to your nervous system, which uses sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.
These two contradictory forces actually work to your benefit, so you can experience emotions from love to fear, from sadness to happiness… and everything in between.
Now, speaking of personality, it also has this two-phase design. For example, are you shy or bold? The answer is yes to both. It totally depends on the situation that you are in. You might be shy with strangers but bold with your friends, right?!
However, you will create a stuck state if you’ll choose one of them, shy or bold, and remain that way for the rest of your life. There has to be a healthy balance of both.
Choosing to live permanently at either end of the stick can get you into trouble, because your survival depends on your ability to act and react flexibly, while putting a wide variety of your behaviors and emotions at work at a suitable time.
That is how we fully experience life.
I believe that our obstacles get exaggerated when all of those things we discussed -- your physical body, nervous system and personality -- get locked into that one way of living.
In other words, explore, flow with it and experience!
Now, what are the Key Takeaways:
**Note: There will be a part 2 to this article, where we will dive into some other mechanics and important principles.