Oftentimes, restlessness leads me into overdrive and hyperactivity OR sends me into lethargy and inactivity. Sometimes, it prompts me to explore deeply into new life situations and new adventures. Sometimes, I can overthink and overwork a problem in my head, make spreadsheets of pro/ con lists, or just go into hiding.
This restlessness to me is an indicator that I am stuck. I’m bored. I’m whiny. And, I keep making up excuses for not moving forward. Most of all, I’m stuck in the past. I’m running over old scenarios that have hurt me. I’m trying to aggressively push my agenda in a prideful manner. And, oftentimes, I wake up tired and foggy (similar a hangover, but I didn’t go out drinking the night before).
Restlessness and STUCK-ness is just an experience. It’s best for me to sit down and see where it is coming from and have the confidence to listen to myself quietly to get down to the the deeper meaning behind it.
How do you know you’re stuck?
For me, it’s when I’m not being the best version of myself.
* Physically: How do you feel in the morning? If you are not well-rested or feel a sense of dread, these can be seen as signals. Another place that gives me a good signal is my yoga practice. Either my body just feels unstable, inflexible or exhausted. Ultimately, there is a dull and heavy feeling in my body. And, when I look in the mirror, I look completely strung out which is usually because of what I’ve been eating/drinking, the amount of exercise I have been doing, and ultimately, the amount of sleep I have been getting.
* Creatively/ Career-Wise: I’m stuck on a work project when I want to avoid doing it or when people give me a boatload of advice and I just want roll my eyes and not listen. I’m typically prideful and arrogant, and I believe there is only one way to solve the issue. I am also in the weeds picking at unnecessary details or I have this sudden urge to do unrelated projects that make me feel like I am doing work: organize my apartment, read an entire book in one sitting at home, or run 6 miles just to prove I can.
* Emotionally/ Spiritually: To help me clear out my extraneous thoughts, I have been doing morning pages since 2009. It’s three pages of handwritten stream of conscious thoughts. It’s the Westernized version of meditation. Journaling daily helps me sit with problems, ideas, past events, and future dreams. When I have a healthy disciplined approach to them, I feel much more confident approaching my day. So, if I don’t want to do my morning pages OR if I refuse to meditate for 10 minutes, I am most definitely stuck, stubborn, and resistant to something. I most likely want to avoid the situation OR just pretend that I can make the situation so awesome even when it truly does suck.
What Helps Get You Through the Stuck Feelings?
I believe this is going to be different for everyone, but through therapy and other self-work, I’ve taken more time to discover how I am and how I react to certain triggers.
1) Sit with it, and go deeper. I put this as number one even though I am the absolute worst at this. My tendency typically ends up looking quite differently. My restlessness and stuck-ness leads me to taking more action or to start saying uncouth things I don’t really mean. I go to my journal, sit quietly in meditation, or take a time out. I have to take a beat and dive into this. I can no longer bury my emotions alive or shove them deep into a hole.
2) This is not a time to go viral and send out an All Points Bulletin about your situation. I’d be very picky about who you share your emotions with and recommend surrounding yourself with a small circle of people who you trust. When certain people are stuck, it is very easy for them to not take the time to think about what is going on by themselves. Then, they end up stepping into a horrific landmine of telling other people their problem. You end up grasping at any option that pops up randomly. And, when you are unclear about where you are, it can attract more ambiguity and confusion.
Reach out to people, but be very careful who you are reaching out to when you share your situation. There are a lot of people who will not have your best interests in mind.
3) Be prepared for a time period where things, people, and social situations will be awkward. Be patient with yourself. You will more than likely feel like an awkward turtle for a while as you figure things out. You are battling with shedding old identities and past experiences as you forge ahead into a new path.
4) Have a go to list of things that can ameliorate your situation. When I was getting treated for depression, my psychiatrist told me to go discover what makes you happy and makes you feel good. At the time, I thought she was insane. There are people who have time to do things that make them happy? Don’t these people have jobs or other responsibilities?
So, I keep a list of things that I consider to be fun (walks, bathrobes, coffee, trips, books, etc.). At first I found it really uncomfortable, selfish and indulgent, but honestly, I know it works.
Ultimately, being restless and stuck is just an indicator that you’re ready for new things. Facing these emotions aren’t easy, but taking the time for yourself and redirecting what you want is crucial. Consider that giving yourself a life that moves past mediocrity, boredom, and restlessness is is your responsibility.