Yesterday a patient of mine told me a story. She’s been suffering for months with worsening symptoms and it’s really scaring her. She’s had to stop working and it’s interfering in her relationships and her ability to take care of her pets.
“I went to the specialist like you said. They agree that there’s something really wrong. They think I could get better, and they sent me for a test. I called the place but they’re not taking new patients.”
This was 6 weeks ago, and since then, she reports, “I think about it every day but I’m completely stuck. There’s nothing anyone can do. There’s nothing I can do, so I cry.”
No. Nuh-uh. Not so!
First of all, let’s start with empathy because that’s where we should always start (even though I want to just swoop in and fix it so bad my teeth hurt).
That’s so scary and hard and frustrating, and I’m so sorry she’s been going through that. Also, good job crying – crying is a useful tool to acknowledge emotions and purge some of the chemicals that rise with those negative emotions.
Now, may I pleeease help? (big relief, she said yes)
Why am I telling you this story? Because I have also felt completely stuck at times, and I’m betting you have, too. The bigger question here is how do we get unstuck when our brain tells us that THIS change (whatever it is) is just too big to navigate, that it’s beyond our control entirely and all we can do is sit and wait to see what happens?
When you feel stuck like that – please keep this list of questions to ask yourself so you can see a way to move forward towards the outcome you want or need:
- Who do I know that’s faced a similar obstacle? What did they do? If you’re not sure, ask!
- What is the specific obstacle right now? Don’t think about the big goal (heal from this illness) but on the “today problem” (get this test I need) and think about what you haven’t yet tried to solve that.
- Who else is invested in a good outcome here? Who has joined me on this journey in any kind of positive way? Ask them for suggestions, resources or interventions.
- If I have to wait a bit, what would make me more comfortable?
- Persevering means trying again and changing something. What could I change?
We’re never completely stuck. Circumstances are constantly changing and there are always options we haven’t tried yet – even if we can’t think what they are.
Would you consider working through this list the next time you are stuck? What about the next time an employee comes to you sure there’s no way to accomplish something? What about when a child of yours (no matter their age) is positive they’ve exhausted every possibility?
There are a lot of huge obstacles in life and we often need reminders and practice. Thanks for letting me remind myself along with you. Got an obstacle you’re facing or a question to add to the list? Hit reply and tell me!
All my best,