It’s scary, isn’t it? Paralysing, crazy-making even, to not be able to do what you think you must do work-wise.
What do you do in those no-go moments when you’re unable to take action towards a deadline or something that needs doing?
Let’s look into a more sustainable way to handle those moments. Because crisis management, pushing and manhandling are not the best-we-can-do solutions.
Why it gets so scary
Well, it may be that sanity isn’t really at stake when you are unable to get something happening at work but it may well seem so.
The more so, the more you’re experiencing stuckness from inside a highly responsive nervous system.
Your imagination about “what’s wrong” is vivid.
So it’s hard to reach out for help because you wouldn’t want anyone to think that there’s something… broken inside you.
You push and shove.
You quietly despair.
Or you duck and dive and… google therapists.
There must be A LOT wrong with you, to struggle this much, you fear.
IS there a problem though?
2003 was the year I “studied” the loop of push and despair rather extensively.
Alongside the study I was advised to undertake in order to remain employable.
I made myself ill with stress for a year when writing regular 5000 words assignments.
Each time I was terrified I couldn’t do it, what with pushing all I could and nothing happening for long hours at a time.
And only towards the end of that year of inner torture, I noticed a curious thing.
Like the pumpkin that turned into carriage, my writing started to move, quite by itself, at night.
Sad about a year of suffering, I was hugely relieved by the realisation that I wasn’t broken.
But broken I can’t have been after all since I started being operational without any fixing.
When the world went to bed and it got calmer. At night.
Problem vs. what you need
Can you relate to this experience?
Do you struggle when you can’t make yourself do something that matters to you, feeling anxious about the consequences?
Do you at times worry that you have a problem or worse, that somehow there must be a problem with you?
The “problem” response is deeply ingrained in the general culture we live in which sees discomfort as a sign of pathology. But we overlook the deeper and likely more accurate truth: that it is communication.
The deeply caring, naturally impressionable people suffer the brunt of diagnosing thinking more than others.
Because we do self-questioning more diligently.
Consider though, what would have happened if I had known to respond to my assignment struggles not with “what’s wrong with me?”.
What if I had asked instead and at first twitch: ”What do you need, dearest?” It would have been a different sort of questioning.
It’d have helped me set up right environment. I’d have had a year of creativity, not torment. I would have learned to enjoy writing sooner.
How to shift your focus
Where in your work life is there an obstacle that’s provoking self-worry?
Are these worries getting you stuck in the rut?
If you assumed that there is nothing wrong with you, however messy things look, what would you discover about your needs in the situation?
The experience of getting stuck is a natural part of navigating new terrain. It’s there for a good reason: to show where there is too much revving of the engine and not enough traction.
Adversity, said Byron Katie, is “simply when your story doesn’t match reality”. In other words, when you don’t judge your discomfort, you can experience it is an ally to your needs.
Once you know this, the trick is to ring fence some time, using a timer if you need to, to enquire into what that ally wants you to clarify.
1. What do you actually need in the situation?
2. If there’s a “problem” with seeing/hearing what it is, how can you search a little longer?
Maybe your way will be to sleep on it or take it for a walk.
Maybe you best think about things out loud with a good listener.
Maybe you’ll want to paint or dance your needs.
And, if it helps you to appreciate or anchor what you need, imagine a dear loved one needing that and how you’d wish to support them in having it.
Because your needs are beautiful and you can trust them to guide you well!