How mums can get unstuck
As a mum I’ve had periods in my life where I’ve felt a bit stuck and when I look back it was ‘fear’ of some shape or description that was the glue that stopped me moving forwards. Whether it’s of rejection, failure, physical danger or loosing the status quo, fear can keep us in our so-called comfort zone. However, this can start to feel pretty uncomfortable too. If we ignore who we are and we turn our backs on what we want and need because we’re afraid then we avoid fear at the cost of feeling something equally unpleasant.
Avoidance doesn’t work
The days when I’ve avoided something because whatever it is makes me uncomfortable or nervous I feel waaay worse. The positive affects of the avoidance are temporary (and usually not that great). I usually get a swirling thing in my stomach that reminds me that I’m pulling myself away from living a fulfilled life and I end up feeling more stressed.
Even feeling crap can be a comfort zone. Feeling low, anxious or stuck can become familiar and manageable. Doing something about it, making changes whatever they may be seems way more difficult than staying where you are. But this is exactly when you’re surviving not thriving.
So how can we change it up and get ourselves out of the uncomfortable zone?
Step 1 – Identify what you want and what will it give you?
A good place to start is to take some time to look at what’s missing in your life. What are you not getting, avoiding, not doing, procrastinating about etc. Then imagine how you want your life to be, what this will give you and how you will feel. Do this as though barriers do not exist (fear, self doubt, logistical constraints etc). Every time you think “I can’t do that because” push the thought aside and focus on what you want.
Step 2 – moving forwards a step at a time
Now, what’s the one thing you can do to move yourself closure to this? Be more active? Have a date night? Find something that will stretch your mind? Find time to meditate? Find a baby sitter? Talk to your old boss? Do this process WITHOUT the barriers.
Step 3 – finding solutions
Then ask yourself how can I make this possible? In this step you face barriers and find solutions. For example, you might want to establish a new career that will give you financial independence and fulfilment. So manageable first steps towards this might be researching training courses, attending some open days and talking to people. Any barriers that come up for you can be brainstormed and handled one-by-one in bite sized chunks.
Step 4 – changing it up
Establishing daily habits and routines can make certain things easier (undertaking regular exercise for example) but they can also become a fast track route to the uncomfortable zone. Life becomes a bit of a treadmill where we’re busy doing stuff, putting one foot in front of the other, but where we don’t get anywhere. This can narrow our view of the world, of our choices and possibilities. It can also dull our creativity and our ability think outside the box towards solutions.
The key thing here is to do something different – to break the cycle. These days, I often change my work environment to shift from habitual to more creative thinking. When I’m researching, planning and preparing stuff I might do so from the library or a coffee shop for example. Change of environment can help to change mind set. Likewise, when my daughter was little, it was very easy to fall into daily monotony so if I was having “one of those days”, getting out for a walk, going out for a cuppa made me see things differently. I was able to think more clearly. Changing it up however can feel uncomfortable and unfamiliar – sometimes it takes effort and the ‘it’s easier if I stick with this’ thinking can kick in.
So, change your daily routines. Commit to doing something different today – even if that’s sitting in a different chair or taking a different run route. Consider going out somewhere with a bit of atmosphere (coffee shop or whatnot) and doing the exercise above. Shake it up and get your brain out of auto-pilot and habitual thinking.
Do one thing today that dips your toe outside of the uncomfortable zone and notice the difference. Taking it one step at a time means you’re off the blocks and moving forwards. You may even find that you’re ready to take a leap.