Lessons in Becoming Unstuck

For my artist date this week, I went out on my own today, taking the bus to a place I have never been, to a place where I have never gone alone, and met new people. I am saving that post for tomorrow.

Whenever I am stuck, it boils down to one obstacle: a deep-seated fear. My adult life has been devoted to uprooting my fears so that I can move on. Luckily for me, a 2+ year stint with a therapist trained in ACT therapy, IFS, and EMDR helped me thaw a number of fears so that my real feelings could find natural expression.

In my family system, I was taught to fear a great many things: people, places, and experiences; things I could control and things I couldn’t; things inside myself and, especially, those from without.

My father used to say, “Don’t tell people to go to Hell. Tell them to go to Brooklyn.” Ask anyone in my family about the borough of Queens and the answer would boil down to, “Don’t go there. It’s dangerous.” Not – “Well, if you go here, you should be fine. Keep an eye out for this. Avoid this.”

The message I heard over and over again were, in essence: Trust no one. Go nowhere. Do nothing. I have lived my life in a terrified state. How could I not? A lot of health issues and my birth order contributed even more reasons for my family to be afraid for me.

But I have done a lot of fighting against it. The thing is, fear isn’t something you can fight against. Fighting feelings never works. Not for me, anyway.

This morning, I avoided my morning plans (shower, eat, write, and go) by helping my mother. When that was done, I missed the first bus I could take. And then I did it: I took my first step towards getting me unstuck.

Unstuck Step #1: I acknowledged that my plans scared me. I acknowledged that, by getting on the bus to start my adventure, I would be going outside my comfort zone and that it would be a bit scary for me.

Unstuck Step #2: I took one small step to remove an obstacle that stood in my way – I made a phone call to find out when my mother’s car would be ready. I have to run some health-related errands for her. One of my excuses not to execute my plan was that her car might be ready soon. So I called the shop and found out they would do more testing in the afternoon. Hurdle eliminated!

Unstuck Step #3: I got on the bus. Once my adventure started, I decided to read to pass the time. After a few pages, I put the book away and decided to watch the neighborhoods unwind by me.

Trees were out in full bloom today – white and pink cherry blossoms, flowering pear blossoms, and green shoots opening up on the ends of tree branches. In a tree grove I passed full of these blossoms, five wedding parties were getting their pictures taken. The day was mostly cloudy, but with enough sun coming through that I got my first bad sunburn on a cloudy day. Ever.

I enjoyed my day, with its treasures and warts, and learned (again) some important lessons:

Unstuck Lesson #1: Acknowledge all your fears.

Unstuck Lesson #2: Take a small step to move your plan forward.

Unstuck Lesson #3: NYC is awesomely huge. With this lesson come mini-lessons:

  • Try to learn about neighborhoods before you go so you can explore.
  • Use a backpack, not a purse.
  • Plan to stay the day.
  • Bring snacks & a bit of water.
  • Pack your go bag the night before.

With enough experiences like I had today, I am hoping that my unstuck lessons will become as deeply learned as the way I learned to be afraid. If that happens, I will have to find other interesting writing topics.

Namaste.

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