It’s amazing how often I feel straight up stuck. As a coach, I should not admit that, but, oh well, the cat’s out of the bag.
For me, it tends to start first thing in the morning as I stare mindlessly at the clothes in my closet, wondering when divine fashion inspiration will appear so that I can get dressed. (I’m sure you’ve been there! What a fun view every day! Those “uniform” people are on to something.)
From there, it continues throughout the day on topics big and small. And when I really pay attention, I notice just how much time it takes to be STUCK — being unable to make a decision, solve a problem, or have a conversation.
Our brains are extremely complex, and when we encounter a question, they love to trap us in a game of “What If?”
What if I do? What if I don’t? What if this happens? What if that happens?
I call it “analytical overdrive.” It’s the place where our analytical mind and our survival mind collide to try and “work out” the best solution. And I don’t know about you, but it works me straight into a place that feels like I’m in the nut house before I can count to 10!
It’s the land of the swirling mind where every action has a potential tragedy at the end of the road: embarrassment, failure, conflict, rejection, or abandonment. A place where those Inner Critic voices get the best of us, where we start believing that our “rational analysis” is telling us we’re in a NO WIN SITUATION.
There’s no question about it… Analytical overdrive = STUCK.
And since our analytical minds are so rewarded in this day and age, “analytical overdrive” can happen a lot.
What do we do about it? After all, it’s sucking all of our energy and time and making us feel like crazy people! After I had this realization that being stuck saps a lot of time and energy from my day (that’s doing quite fine without that interruption, thank you very much), I started playing with analytical overdrive. In particular, how we can use it to reverse engineer and move from stuck to free.
The constant churn of your brain working on analytical overdrive is not going to solve your problem…or get you UN-stuck. Instead of trying to mull it over (and over and over), you need to STOP your brain for a little while.
Notice you are in analytical overdrive and hit the pause button in your mind. Stop what you are doing for a minute and breathe.
When you do this, your body’s relaxation response will kick in… Let the mind chatter float away as you continue breathing.
Now, get up from your desk and start moving around. Go get a drink of water or hit the restroom (even if you don’t have to go). Take a quick walk (outside if you can, inside in just fine too). Walk slowly up a flight of stairs. Whatever you do, just move.
When you move your body, you allow your brain to process differently and allow yourself access to your body’s intelligence. I know it sounds crazy, but trust me, it works.
While you are up and moving, tap into your imagination. Ask yourself this question: “What’s possible here?”
And with that, let yourself envision life after this problem is solved or decision is made — with a POSITIVE outcome. What does it look like? What does it feel like? Bask in the glory of this amazing outcome.
As you are in this place, ask yourself, “What do I want?” It’s a rather broad question and the answers that come to you may provide you insight and direction on where to go next. See what comes up for you.
(PS: to dive deeper into “What if it’s possible” thinking, and to learn a useful mantra for this step, read Mindset and Mantra: What If It’s Possible!)
When analytical overdrive strikes, it can be difficult to free yourself from its grip. That’s why you feel stuck, even though your mind is constantly pondering the same thing.
Even if the first three steps help you make some progress, I recommend that you “phone a friend.”
Tell them that you are stuck on something and you want to talk it out with them for a few minutes. Vocalizing what’s in your head is often the key to accessing new insights yourself, or can allow your friend to suggest ideas that your brain would never come up with.
Whatever you do, be sure to share what you want and the positive outcome you envision. You don’t need another person stuck in analytical overdrive with you, so lead your request for help with a vision of the bigger picture.
In most cases, you will begin to see new perspectives by doing Steps 1-4. However, there are times when the final answer may require a little creativity.
Grab a blank sheet of paper and get creative. Brainstorm ideas. Draw pictures. Make a mind map or list anything and everything that comes to mind.
When your creativity starts to dwindle, reconnect with what’s possible and what you want. What new actions or solutions have emerged? Select the one that “speaks to you” (hint: don’t over-analyze it), and go do it
Being stuck really sucks. The key here is not to waste time. Just take the next step. The longer you wait, the less likely you’ll act. And who wants to be STUCK all over again? Act NOW and be FREE! You’ll be glad you did.
If you’re feeling stuck today, use me as a “phone your friend.” Share in the comments where you are and how you envision your positive outcome after you’ve unstuck yourself.