Life coaches offer suggestions to stay upbeat
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Maybe you feel like life’s not as fun as it used to be. Perhaps you dread going to work. Or your retirement hobbies bore you. It may feel comforting to know you’re not alone.
If you feel stuck in a rut, here’s how to get your groove back.
Linda Gilmore, a certified hypnotist and life coach, owns Balanced Life Hypnosis in Liverpool. She said that it’s “pretty common” to feel stuck in one or more areas of life at this age — and it’s not always bad thing.
“Sometimes, it’s a healthy way of dealing with an issue that’s speaking up loudly enough to get your attention,” she said. “Some people spend so much time raising kids and working that once they’re done, they say, ‘What about me? How do I get beyond this for myself?’”
The realization may strike as a feeling of restlessness, sadness, dissatisfaction or boredom.
“A person might have an idea that there’s more,” Gilmore said. “If you get stuck long enough, you start to feel pain and there aren’t enough positive things to offset it. Pain is a motivator to get unstuck.”
Realizing something is out of whack represents the beginning of solving the problem.
“I often talk with people who are in a rut in some way,” said Gwen Webber-McLeod, CEO and president of Gwen, Inc., an Auburn business that provides life coaching. “It sounds simple, but the first step is acknowledging it. Many know they’re in it but they continue to engage in the activity and behaviors that keep them stuck. What I observe about people is they’re hesitant to acknowledge it but once they do they can’t turn off the need to do something about it.”
People in a rut have slowly, often without realizing it, turned inward for advice and help. Doing this results in receiving the same answers over and over. Instead, finding someone to help you arrive at the right answers makes all the difference.
Webber-McLeod said that could include a therapist, coach, trusted colleague or mentor to help discover why you feel this way.
Often, she tells people to give themselves “permission” to identify what they really want. For some, writing a mission statement or a letter can prove cathartic. If they’re feeling stuck at work, they may see aspects of their work, for example, that they really like.
The same applies to a relationship. Focus on the traits you enjoy instead of fixating on what you don’t like and look for ways that you can enjoy each other together. Webber-McLeod said that in relationship ruts, “it requires time being intentional about your relationship and the things you need to practice: reflecting, resting and rejuvenation about the condition of the relationship.”
Periodically reviewing the goals of the relationship is another tool she recommends.
For some people, getting outside of a rut includes trying some new activity.
Sheila Applegate, who has a master’s in social work, works as a transformational life coach in Syracuse.
“Start with something that scares you, something you always wanted to do but couldn’t because you didn’t have the time or money,” Applegate said. “Just outside your comfort zone is where the magic begins.”
Whether sky diving or simply attending a local meet-up, stepping out breaks the boredom of rituals that don’t work anymore.
Change doesn’t mean getting rid of what does work.
“If they do start to do the things they really want and seek the meaning they want, they don’t want to disrupt the cart,” Applegate said. “They don’t want to change in a way that’s scary. They can start with small steps.”
These changes can involve more self care, such as taking time to exercise, de-stress and maintain appearance. Applegate compares this with putting on one’s oxygen mask during a flight issue before helping another passenger.
She added that anyone who truly wants you to feel happy should feel happy for the changes.
Like Webber-McLeod, she recommends reaching out to someone else as a mentor. Doing so can help “look at belief systems and ‘upgrade’ them,” Applegate said. “When we start to look at some of the beliefs we’ve taken on from parents or life, we may realize it’s time to upgrade some of them.”
For example, she thinks that “I should be satisfied because I have a good life” upgrades to “I have a good life and I deserve a great life.” And “It is selfish to take care of myself” upgrades to “My happiness helps other people.”
It’s also important to stay connected to something greater than one’s self. Applegate calls it spiritual, not religious.
“It helps ourselves find that deeper meaning,” she said. “You can have that joy deep in your core. It changes your perspective and gives us a stronger ability to navigate those obstacles with joy.”
Of course, some issues are bigger than feeling stuck in life. If they hearken back to deeper, life-changing issues, it may be appropriate to seek the help of a therapist.