I've been experiencing MAJOR, MAJOR resistance, stuckness, inertia, and extreme feelings of self-doubt and disempowerment. My mind has been flooding me with all of these self-defeating thoughts and reasons why I can't do it, how I've already failed in the past and just don't have what it takes.
But I know that I can do it because I have been able to make things happen in the past, even in situations that came down to the wire. When all of these feelings and thoughts surfaced this time around, I fought them and tried to figure out where they were coming from and how to deal with them. I read self-help books and listened to self-help podcasts. Go back to what it is you want to do, what you want to contribute and why you do it- I was advised. So I went back to My Why i.e. my purpose, what motivates me, and how the different projects I'm working on are aligned with My Why. For a short time that helped me to refocus on projects that matter to me, but then the feelings crept back. I tell you, I was as stuck as stuck can be, and I knew it! I could see what was happening but nope, I couldn't get myself to do what I "needed to do." Have you ever felt this way? It's pretty damn frustrating!
I wondered: Why do we get stuck? Why is it so hard to get unstuck? How can we get unstuck?And can we stop it from ever happening again?
The crazy thing is that before hitting this resistance wall I was looking into trying out new things and exploring different opportunities- that doesn't sound like someone that's stuck to you- does it? I knew that these opportunities would take me into uncharted territory and that I'd have to deal with things that I'm unfamiliar with. That's when I started getting all of these disempowering messages that threw me into major resistance. I wasn't motivated to do the simplest things, like keeping up with my daily posts on Instagram for example. There were lots of other things that this stuckness trickled down to. In the midst of all this, I came across a piece of advice on what to do when feeling defeated:
Give yourself a small win by doing something that you know you can achieve to get back your confidence. This will put yourself back in a place of empowerment.
It seemed like a very doable thing to do, so I tried it and it worked!
I've always been interested in human behaviour, the mind and brain. Many of the things on brain science that I've come across lately tell us that the brain is designed to protect us. The brain is very efficient and will try to take the easy way out to conserve energy and to do everything possible to maintain the status quo i.e. to keep in us in our comfort zone.
When trying to change a deeply ingrained habit, the brain will try to stop us and to go back to what is comfortable and easy. If putting oneself into a challenging new situation, where there's some uncertainty or discomfort, the brain interprets this as a threat or fear and reacts to it the same way it would a real one in the physical world. As a result the brain will try to protect us from the "danger" and do things like bring up self-limiting beliefs or other feelings and thoughts to stop us and bring us back to the "safety zone." That is why it's so hard for people to quit, or change their habits. And that is why we get stuck. The brain actively works against change or dealing with a challenging, different situation. That is why it's so hard to get unstuck once we're already stuck.
So how can we get unstuck?
Figure out how to transcend what the brain is doing and build new patterns to replace old habits. It will take time. Think about how long it took for an old pattern to develop in the first place. Whatever it is that you are resisting and not wanting to do, do it anyway; just do something or some part of it every day. Break it down into small, doable steps. Try to do something every day despite your resistance. Giving up is not an option. If you falter or fail just start over again.
Will we ever be able to stop this from happening again? Probably not because everytime you try to change a habit or to push yourself to another level, you'll have to deal with your brain's reactions. But at least if you understand how the brain works, then you can choose to override it by doing work to deal with the resistance your brain puts up.
One final thought: Knowing that the brain works to protect you from harm, and "dangerous", challenging, unfamiliar situations, seems like strong evidence that fear is not a good motivator. It's important to recognize fear-based thinking and not to let it hold you back.