I know I talk a lot here in my journal and on the podcast about how our self-doubt makes perfect sense when you think of it in terms of staying safe. In fact, episode eight was all about the myth that self-doubt is a bad thing. The truth is, our self-doubt is usually doing a bang up job of keeping you safe from the psychological risks of disappointment, judgement, failure, rejection, conflict, complexity and success. And in episode nine we talked all about how our self-doubt employs all of the p word protective behaviours of polling, people-pleasing, passivity, perfectionism, procrastination, paralysis and proving yourself.

Now none of these self-doubt related protections are a problem, as long as you’re aware of them. Like so many things in our world, for example, cars, the internet and chocolate, they’re actually providing goodness as long as you are aware of what you’re doing. If you can be aware of your self-doubt, how it shows up for you and still take action towards your dreams and goals – then your self-doubt is just doing it’s job.

But what do you do when your self-doubt and all of its related bits and bobs is actually keeping you feeling stuck? Like really stuck. Well, it can become a problem. In a big way. Think chronic health issues, failed careers and families falling apart. These are not the self-styled life results we’re looking for.

And you can’t fix what you don’t know about. So it’s worth understanding the key signals that indicate that you’re actually feeling stuck rather than safe so that you can take action to solve the real problem. In working with my clients I’ve identified four signs that you’re not actually safe but feeling stuck. You can learn about the four by reading below, or you can listen in on the Self.Styled.Life podcast right here:

The four signs that you’re actually feeling stuck

Number One: Time

First up, let’s have a look at time. It’s worth noting at the outset that some things do take a long time to come to life. It’s one of the reasons I rarely put deadlines on goals – either for myself or my clients. But then there’s the situation where time is passing but nothing is happening. It’s worth asking yourself questions like:

  • ‘How long have I been feeling stuck?’
  • ‘Has it been a long time since I felt movement towards the thing I say I want to do?’
  • ‘Have I stopped talking to my friends about the thing, because I instinctively know, they’re all wondering why I don’t just do the thing?’

These situations and others like them are a good indication that you’ve moved out of safety and into stuckness. Now you have a few options here, depending on your personality type. The first one is that you could quit. Now I know this one always makes my friends in corporate squirm. But quitting, or stopping or pausing are all perfectly legitimate options. Kindly saying to yourself, it’s just not the right time for this, and giving yourself permission to pop the dream on the shelf might release a whole stack of pressure.

Some of you reading this will think that I’m crazy for suggesting you quit. After all, this is your big dream or goal on the line here. If that’s you, then you might want to try using time to your advantage. Setting deadlines, committing to moving towards your goal for a set period every day – say for 15 minutes a day – and time blocking your calendar are all tools you might consider to get out of feeling stuck.

Number Two: Activity

Secondly we have activity. Are you still taking action – even the tiniest of baby-steps – toward your goal or dream? If the answer is no, then you could be feeling stuck. Safety still allows for some action either via experiments or my favourite baby-steps.

You might like to try a technique that’s variously called courage mapping or courage based actions. Rather than viewing a list of things you need to do, in a linear way, you break that list into four categories

  • Easy;
  • Doable;
  • Stretchy; and
  • Outright risky.

Now, generally speaking, all of the tasks will need to be completed before you can hit the go button on your dream. But there’s rarely a rule that says you have to complete those tasks in a linear order. Once you’ve got all of the tasks categorised as easy, doable, stretchy and risky, everyday you can choose a task. Some days you might be ready to do hard things, so you’ll pick something from the stretchy or risky list. And other days you might  choose something easier. This method ensures that you don’t get blocked for weeks on end because you don’t want to do the risky thing that is next on the list and you get to keep taking action toward your goals, dreams or intentions.

Number Three: Language

In the number 3 slot we have language. Language is so important. And in this instance it can be a warning sign that we’ve gone beyond safety into feeling stuck. Be on the lookout for language like:

  • ‘It’s just me, it’s the way I’m wired.’
  • ‘Nothing I can do about it.’
  • ‘I guess I’m just destined to be this way.’

Talk about creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Our minds act on what we program them with. Which is another way of saying our minds act on what we tell them. Tell yourself that you can’t move forward and you won’t. If you catch yourself telling yourself stories that revolve around a theme ‘It’s me and I can’t change’ replace it with a more empowering message. Some options to play with could include ‘I get to choose how I show up in the world’ or ‘I’m practicing trying new things’.

Number Four: Emotions

Finally, we have emotions – particularly recurring emotions of anger, frustration, or feeling withdrawn or resentful. What we’re thinking about a circumstance or a desire, the thoughts that we have about our goal, drive our emotions. And so, if you’re noticing really sticky emotions like resentment or frustration, there’s a good chance you’re a little stuck. Always remember that you can observe the thoughts and emotions you have, which is excellent news for self-awareness and makes emotions an awesome signal for stuckness.

Now I mentioned earlier that the thoughts we have drive our emotions – which means that if we can change our thoughts we can change our emotions. There are a couple of very useful tools that can help switch out one thought for another. If you’d like to learn more about them, get your copy of my Permission Granted workbook where you’ll discover a model which will help you to upgrade your thoughts. 

Ok, so there we have it. Four signs that you might actually be feeling stuck rather than keeping yourself safe with protective beliefs and behaviours.

I’d love to know. How can you tell if you’re feeling stuck? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

I’ll be back soon with more strategies for you to live your Self.Styled.Life. But in the meantime, stay fabulous xx

Image credit: Haute Stock

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