Lately I have felt stuck. I have a wonderful family, a great house, a stable job that pays me more than I ever thought I would make in my life. And yet I have been feeling like my life doesn’t actually line up with my values. I spend a majority of my time working a job that stresses me out so that I can buy more stuff that I don’t really want. And then I spend an inordinate amount of time managing our stuff like maintaining and cleaning. I find myself more stressed and more depressed than I have ever been. So what do I do?
Well the laws of physics have something to say about this. Newton’s first law of motion basically says that something won’t change without an external force. In other words, if you feel stuck, you need a push. Now the point is that the push has to come from outside yourself. Which means you need to engage another person in your process. You could just call your closest friend of course, and sometimes that is all that is needed. But what if that doesn’t help? What if your closest friends just pat your shoulder and don’t actually give you the shove you need?
We all come to a point where we need help. Think of it like you get your fancy four-wheel-drive stuck in the mud. The one option is to go it alone and spin your tires for a while, thinking you are maintaining your pride by not asking for help. But really you just look the fool spinning your wheels. So just make the smart decision and call a tow truck.
What do you do when you need help in your life? Do you have friends with whom you can discuss your biggest failings? Your deepest fears? Your struggles and triumphs? Are there people in your life that know you as well as you know yourself? If that person is a spouse or partner, that is a great step, but I would say you need at least one more. If you want more of this in your life, vulnerability in relationship generally happens slowly over time. But it is possible to accelerate the process. Choose a friend you want to deepen your relationship with, and ask them if they are interested in spending more time one on one with you. If they say yes, you can initiate vulnerability. Ask them intentional questions like what their biggest regret is. Or what they most want out of life. And after you ask the question, you answer it first. Yes, you have to put yourself out there, and you are sometimes going to get hurt. But that is the only way I know of to develop close friendships without waiting ten years for it to happen naturally.
What is the next level? Well obviously you pay someone to help you. So who do you pay to help you? Well I think it depends a lot on what you need. To me, there are several rings of professionals available: life coaches, counselors, psychologists/psychiatrists. The psychologist/psychiatrist level deals with things that are wrong in your mind. These could be miswirings or chemical imbalances. All sorts of things. They are sharp people and I am personally seeing one right now. In case you are like me and can’t keep the two straight, psychiatrists are doctors and can prescribe. Counselors have more of a different purview in that they help you deal with the actual thoughts and memories that are kept in your brain. They are trained to help you deal with traumatic events and guide you through healing. Then we get to life coaches. I feel that many people I talk to about life coaches don’t really understand what it’s about, which is totally fine. I didn’t either before I tried it out. So let me enlighten.
When you go to a counselor or psychoanalyst, you are expecting them to use their expertise in the field to help you. When you see a life coach, you are the expert at your life, and the coach’s is the expert at drawing out the best in you. This is what sports coaches do. They aren’t the ones out on the field, nor should they be. They have a unique set of skills that enable them to draw out the best in their players. This is what a life coach does. They will come alongside you and ask you directed questions that push you and offer encouragement.
So lets go back to the vehicle stuck in the mud. First, you should call a tow truck. Get unstuck. Then maybe there is so much mud gunked up in the mechanisms that you just need a professional wash. But maybe you also need a mechanic because something is really broken and it just isn’t running right. The tow truck is the life coach, the car washer is the counselor, and the mechanic is the psychoanalyst. Yeah, ok, the metaphor breaks down a little. But still…
Where are you at? Do you have an idea of what kind of help you need in this season? I happen to have a shameless plug for you. My wife is a certified life coach! She is running a daily coaching questions email list where she sends out two questions every day that help you think about your life. These are completely free, and I get them in my inbox every day and love it (even though I already proofed most of them). So if you are interested in a little free life coaching, sign up for her list.
Even if you don’t sign up for emails, consider hiring a life coach. The money I have spent on life coaching is hands down the best money I have ever spent. Dollar for dollar, I think it is the best way to get to the life you want to live. But if you think you might need some counseling or psychoanalysis, do that too. Yes, it is crazy expensive. But what else can you buy with your money that will help you live the rest of your life better? No new car or bigger house or extra cable channels can get you closer to your best self. Maybe they represent the life you want, but they can’t make you the type of person you want to be.
As we approach the end of the year, I start thinking about next year. If you read some of my posts from earlier this year, you know I don’t really like resolutions. But as I think about what 2019 might hold for me, I am thinking about what systems I can put in place to consistently push me. I have been slacking off a bit this year on seeing a counselor. I know there is some built up gunk and I just don’t want to deal with it. But I think it is probably time. I am feeling stuck right now, so I need a few shoves in the right direction.
What would it look like for you to ask for help in 2019? Is there something you can do today to start that process? Maybe it’s a low bar like signing up for free coaching emails (seriously, how often can free stuff change your life?). Maybe you have bigger aspirations. What kind of support can you build around yourself to succeed at your big goal? Don’t be afraid to ask or pay for help. Sometimes you just need that little extra push to get unstuck.