This Spring, we had the good fortune of working with our neighbor Shira Burstein, LCSW at our team meeting! Shira discussed how to deal with the emotional blocks that we all encounter in our lives, specifically in regard to achieving results when it comes to our health and fitness.
We are honored to feature her article here, in "Win & Learn: Say 'So Long' to Being Stuck. Shira writes:
In New York it’s easy to become ‘stuck’ multiple times throughout the day. Stuck on the subway; stuck on the elevator up to your 22nd office floor; stuck waiting for your Chai Latte on the insane Starbucks line in the morning; stuck in the apartment hoping the Time Warner guy will come during the earlier half of the 10:00-5:00 bracket of delivery time you were given. We deal with it, we grumble and complain and then we move on.
What happens though, when your ‘stuckness’ isn’t just an unwanted subway announcement, but an emotional or mental barrier that prevents us from personal goals of growth and change? In a land of indefinite moments of immobility, I have picked six repeat emotional offenders to highlight reasons we don’t make changes, with some quick tips for turning them around:
1. Rejection/Fear of Failure
“If I pursue this change and the outcome I want doesn’t come to fruition, I will feel even worse than I do now.” Try to replace negative narratives with more positive ones. Ask yourself what might shift for the best if this emotional barrier is removed.
2. Emotional Atrophy
That feeling you get when you haven’t been to the gym all winter and need to get yourself back in the groove of things...is there an app for that? The longer you stay away from something, i.e. confronting insecurity or fear and accepting or processing feelings of anger or sadness, the ‘weaker’ the muscle, motivation, determination, and comfortability is, in addressing the fear head on.
Identify small, manageable, and reasonable goals in order to reacquaint yourself with your emotional and mental goals. This way you can avoid burn-out, disappointment and a feeling of impossible and inevitable failure. You wouldn’t walk into the gym having never lifted weights and then try to dead-lift 500 lbs. Give your mind the same respect.
3. Endangerment of Our Equilibrium
This is sticking with the devil you know, rather than going towards the devil you don’t. “I’m not happy with X, but at least it’s predictable and has become part of me, my routines and my identity.” Sometimes, we invite and make friends with our negative thoughts and habits. Although it seems to have no value, ask yourself what you do GAIN by maintaining this unwanted comrade. If we ‘defriended’ it, what in turn would be exposed? What would we be left with or faced with if it wasn’t sustained?
The good ‘ol cow chewing it’s cud.' Or, what I like to call, lying in bed in your imagined revolving door of reliving the fight you just had, where this time you say all your points perfectly and then chastise yourself for having not done it that way, only to then loop back to your new narrative. The Wonder ball goes round and round. Forgive yourself. Identify the use of self-disparagement that drives ruminating behaviors and thoughts. Consider that the world may see you/your capabilities/your attempt much differently then you experience it while still giving yourself permission to feel the way you do.
4. Imagined Failures
Imagine failures consist of moments when the words: NEVER, NOTHING, CAN’T, and WON’T become bigger then you. This is similar to fear of failure, only it isn't just fear itself. The brain believes in the reality of the situation as defined by the imagined failure. Identify negative narratives and replace them with positive ones.
5. Lapses vs. Relapses
We are humans. You are meant to have a range of emotions and that it’s more about how and how quickly you return to your goals then maintaining them for the rest of your life perfectly. We are bound to have days where we are truly working on our goals and feel accomplished, and we also have our days where our anxiety, sadness, anger and fears can resurface.
Remind yourself, that even a train stops. Nothing moves forward 100%, 100% of the time.
If you find yourself frustrated in unbending change, ask yourself if perhaps you are experiencing one of these barriers. All great accomplishments take time to achieve. Any step at all, is a step in the right direction. Rather than seeing barriers as a “win or lose,” use these tips to guide you in a “win or learn” mentality instead.