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This is episode number 119: Why does it seem so hard?
Welcome to the Mindset for Life Podcast. This is Bethanie, your coach, from DrBCoach.Com–coaching with power, purpose and practical tools to help you show up with confidence.
Welcome to the podcast today. I’m Bethanie Hansen, and I’m here to talk with you about why life, or work, or both are so hard. Sometimes everything just seems really hard, right? It can feel like the whole world is against you. Like just as things start to go your way something happens. And now there’s this new challenge. And it’s like challenge after challenge.
Sometimes it’s just the people in life, like they are resistant or difficult or not really doing what we want them to be doing. And sometimes it’s just the opportunity, like, there’s not enough opportunity to do what I really want to do. Or maybe I’d like to have a new experience. And I just can’t figure out what that is.
And I’d like to describe that in a little more detail. Today’s episode is all about being stuck, what it feels like. The experience of being stuck, why it’s so draining and difficult, and some hope and reassurance that there is a way out of being stuck.
No one can change all of their external circumstances or the people around them, but we can focus on ourselves and the experience we’re actually having and the way we’re feeling from day to day. And when we’re doing that, pretty soon, everything changes, we have the power to do it. I know it might not seem that way right now. But trust me, it’s possible. And if you stay with me throughout this podcast, and throughout this series, you’re gonna find a way.
So let’s get started by talking about that feeling of just being stuck. And of course, this podcast is for you, if you love serve, and teach others, if you want things to keep getting better. If you want encouragement, just one little idea today to get stronger in your life, your relationships, your work. I help people take control of their situations, and I have power to do what I need to do. And so can you.
[I am a] confidence coach for tech leaders and executives, that’s what I am. And I’m also a wellbeing coach for teachers. I love doing these things because it makes a difference in the lives of others. But it also makes a difference in my life. And it wouldn’t be of any value to anyone else unless I was doing my best to just live it myself. So I’m on this journey to day to day, doing the best I can to be the best version of myself, just as you may be doing.
And I know life isn’t easy all the time. In fact, at the time of this recording, I just had one of the toughest weeks of my recent life, just really struggling through some things happening. And so I want you to know [that] I’m with you in the feeling of struggle and really feeling stuck. Sometimes we have to weather that.
Sometimes, we have to do things to get out of that path and into another one. So let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about being stuck.
What is Being Stuck?
A stuck situation is where we have a lot of negative emotions. And negative emotions, as we all know, are not pleasant. We’re experiencing other people or circumstances as having more power over our happiness than we do. And when we’re feeling stuck like this, we believe that other people, or the things happening with our work or our life, actually have the ability to cause the troubling feelings in us that we cannot do anything about.
So perhaps we’re angry, and we feel like it’s someone else’s fault.
We’re depressed. And it seems like it’s because of someone else’s behavior.
We’re just discouraged. And we think it’s because of our work situation.
No matter how we try, it feels like these things are outside of us and beyond us. Now, because we feel like it’s outside our control, we often think there’s just nothing we can do about it to feel happy, peaceful or fulfilled again. And that situation of being stuck actually has a lot of impact.
It becomes this spirit or this aura around us that we project towards other people and into our work. So we’re pretty much bringing this negativity with us, because we just can’t seem to shake it. And maybe we even find ourselves telling a story, like, “If it wasn’t for that one person at the office,” or “that one parent at the school,” or “that one kid in the class,” or “that one neighbor that I have,” one person is always just so difficult.
Maybe we’re thinking that, and it might even be true. The problem is [that] we have all these emotions and attitudes that really fill our hearts with negative feelings. [We’re] held back by somebody else, or we’re feeling like it’s their fault. Why did they keep doing that, like, every time?
Or, maybe we’re offended a lot at somebody else or a situation. Maybe we feel hurt a lot, like if they would just think of us, or maybe anyone outside of themselves, it would feel so much better. Do any of these feel familiar to you?
They’re totally normal. These thoughts and feelings are human. We all have these experiences.
The problem is when we get stuck in them, and pretty soon, it’s like clothing that we put on every day. And we’re just walking around in this state of totally feeling stuck and miserable. And what’s worse, we really do think it’s because of these other people or because of the situation, or because of this terrible relationship we have with another organization, a different department, parent group, you know, something outside of ourselves that just feels like it’s in control.
Now, the reason I’m talking about this feeling of being stuck today is that that’s one of the main things I help people get out of. I really spend a lot of time helping other people in my coaching work [to] identify what they’re actually thinking and feeling about a situation and where they can make the change.
In our story today, in our podcast, I really just want to talk about that feeling and where the door is to begin getting out.
A lot of times we find this on our own. If I feel really miserable about a situation, I’ll be thinking about it, or as my uncle Don used to say, “cogitating on it,” I’ll be contemplating it. I’ll be tossing it around in my mind for quite some time and wrestling with it. I might read a book on the subject, I might look on Google and see if I can find experts to tell me how to fix it. Maybe I talk to a lot of people in my life. And I ask them what they would do. I journal about it. Really wrestle with this thing.
And pretty soon, I find some way to crack it open and get moving. But it could take a long time. And all that pain and misery that I’m feeling, it just feels so justified, like I’m right. And sometimes, I think we find the feeling of being right much more desirable than feeling peaceful or happy. And when we’re feeling justified in being right about some miserable situation or something somebody else is doing, it just feels really good in the moment.
But it’s part of being stuck. And the more we want to be right, the more stuck we’re going to be. Then it’s filled with discouragement and self pity and suspicion and pettiness and impatience, maybe even envy or resentment. It could be boredom or indifference, or hesitance to just do anything, take initiative. Contempt, sometimes resentment comes in. There are all of those feelings. They’re all in this package of things I’m calling being stuck. And when we ask that question, “Why is life so hard? Why is it so hard? Why is this situation so hard?” these feelings are the reason.
It’s not actually the person that’s causing you trouble. It’s not the situation that’s put up a roadblock in front of you. It’s all of the emotions that are part of that.
The emotions take control and become a very strong, compelling reason to stay stuck. And that emotion makes us feel alive even when we’re feeling super negative. So the more we feel that we’re right about it, the more we can tell the story about how wrong it is, how hurtful it is. The more we’re going to stay there.
The only way out is to question the story and process the emotions.
Question the Story and Process the Emotions
So the story first of all, might not be true, it might be our own interpretation based on something we experienced previously, or something we experienced just now that we’ve really just assumed something about. It might be that we don’t have all the information, or it might be true. And that’s okay, too.
But then the second half after we recognize what the story might be, or could be or get curious about it, is really processing our emotion. When we feel hurt, discouraged or somehow wronged, it’s very important to acknowledge how we’re feeling. To work through those feelings, to process them, and be done with them.
They’re part of the thoughts we’re having, but we can’t just dismiss them and stuff them and toss them aside. I’m not sure what your experience has been, but when I was growing up, I thought it was my job to be cheerful all the time. Now, as an adult, I love being cheerful. And that’s one of my favorite moods to be in, but not at the expense of ignoring real emotion. We would call that toxic positivity, when you should just fake it till you feel it and be happy all the time.
Life’s not going to be happy all the time. And it’s perfectly fine to feel your negative emotions and process them. And once you work through them, which I’ll cover in a different podcast, then we can move forward and choose a different story. If we’ve gotten curious about what’s going on or what that person is doing, then we can actually change the course of the future for ourselves and not be stuck anymore.
It’s that curiosity that opens the door for something different to happen. And if you don’t want to feel miserable and stuck anymore, that’s what it’s going to take true curiosity about what’s really going on. And then acknowledgment about what you’re really feeling then the next step is going to be well what would it be like if I asked a lot of questions about that and allowed myself to let go of this negative emotion I have and holding on to and see what happens next.
Once we really get good at this, we can actually intend a different emotion, like maybe I want to have acceptance instead of anger. Maybe it has to be a smaller step, like I just want to feel neutral. And then in the future, I’m going to work towards acceptance. And then in the future, I’m going to work towards feeling mildly okay about it. And maybe pretty soon I’m gonna feel peaceful about it. But it could be a huge leap for me to jump from where I am right now to being super happy and cheerful. That would be just fake, right, we have to go step by step.
And [in] some situations, we may be so stuck for so long that we have to just plan a little incremental movement one piece at a time. That’s only going to happen when we’re willing to get curious. And start questioning that story and realizing that our interpretation and our justification, and that really powerful sense of being right, might not be true.
Now, this episode isn’t about solving the problem. It’s about identifying how it feels to feel stuck, and noticing when we’re there. So what are some signs of being stuck?
Notice Red Flags When You’re Stuck
As we close out our episode today, I’m going to just identify a few of these things for you.
One is feeling judgment towards other people and excusing ourselves. So in some way, we’re accusing someone else and excusing ourselves. Like I might say, you know, “That guy, he just cut me off in traffic, he was weaving in and out, and then he went in front of me, I had to slam on my brakes, and I was driving so carefully, I was going the speed limit.”
See, I’m excusing myself for anything I’m doing in that situation. And I’m just completely accusing the other guy. Now, maybe he was weaving in and out of traffic, and he did cut me off, I don’t even know. But when it’s a one-way story, and I’m really elevating myself and putting the other person below, that’s a judgmental way of being.
Another thing that could be a sign that we’re stuck is we’re doing a lot of comparing, like, “That person seems to be all about their agenda, and I’m just there to do good. You know, I’m there to help other people.” That’s a comparison, right?
Another sign that we may be in a space of being stuck is when we’re being overly competitive. And yet, it’s not a true competition. Like it’s not a track meet. It’s not a sporting event, it’s not a game. We’re just being competitive.
Maybe we’re trying to control other people’s thoughts or feelings or their outcomes.
Or fight with them–being combative.
Anytime we’re being seriously insecure. That’s also another thing.
And I haven’t said this one yet, defensiveness. When we feel like we have to gather lots and lots of evidence to really support what we’re saying, that’s defensiveness. And it can feel really stuck and really ugly.
Address Red Flags, When You Notice Them
And when we see it in ourselves, the best thing to do is to just pause, slow down and start questioning the story. Is it really true? How can I know that is true? Is 100% True?
And asking lots and lots of questions about what we’re thinking.
And then as I said before, working through the feelings we’re actually having, first identifying them and then processing them.
I encourage you to share this podcast if it’s been valuable to you. And also, if you’re interested in getting through a tough situation where you really do feel stuck, it’s a great time to think about a coach. This is what I do outside of my day job. I spend lots of time working with folks getting unstuck, and having better lives and better relationships, and much better experiences across the board. And I would love to do the same for you.
So reach out on my website, I have a contact form where you can connect with me and let me know you’re interested in either a one on one conversation, or join the group program. It’s a really nice way to just kind of dip your toe in the pool to find out what this is all about without feeling like you’re really in a one on one conversation. So I invite you to come, and I’d love to connect with you. Here’s to being the best version of you this coming week.
This season’s theme song is “Training Day,” by Infraction. Used with Permission.