Have you ever felt stuck in a situation, an emotion, a thought pattern? It is extremely human to find ourselves physically and/or metaphorically stuck in unhelpful circumstances. It is also extremely human to feel as though there is little agency you have in shifting your experience in those moments. While it may feel accepted as fact that you do not have the ability to shift your experience, I encourage the practice of creativity and flexibility in cultivating more helpful experiences and therefore shifting associated emotions, thoughts, and attitudes.
For example, let’s say you notice that you've felt down recently. Perhaps you missed a deadline at work or in school, you felt excluded in a recent social event, or you've experienced conflict among family members at home. These circumstances might contribute to feeling down, lonely, unmotivated, etc. Furthermore, we might create a dialogue around our recent experiences linking them together (i.e. “Life feels really challenging right now at work/school/home and I seem to be the common thread among these incidences: it must be my fault”). The events, emotions, and thoughts noted above can contribute to a mindset of feeling stuck. Whether or not our perception of these experiences is accurate is inconsequential. However, the ineffectiveness of this perception really does matter; it can be incredibly unhelpful in allowing us to moving forward.
I encourage a shift in focus on noting what works for you in cultivating helpful emotions. Reflect on experiences that bring about more neutral emotions such as contentment, connection, peace, calm, etc. Perhaps during your reflection you note the following - doing yoga cultivates peace, spending time with genuine friends cultivates joy, cleaning your room cultivates calm, etc. While seemingly unrelated to your current experience, you might identify that there are experiences that you’ve had that do bring about more neutrality and even positivity. We can then choose to cultivate more of those emotions in our day-to-day by practicing intentional choices about what we do that promotes certain feelings.
Of course, taking a yoga class or going to summer camp (both experiences perhaps offering helpful emotions) are not always accessible to us, so we might practice creativity in how we can do something similar in order to foster similar emotions. While doing more of what feels helpful and less of what might not change the circumstances we find ourselves in, it can create a felt shift in having agency over our lives, emotion regulation, our attitudes, and our ability to continue moving forward.
See some tips below in cultivating more helpful experiences:
Reflect on what works for you and what doesn’t
Identify how you want to feel and what makes you feel that way
Practice creativity in cultivating more of what feels good and letting go of what does not
Remind yourself that nothing is permanent, everything is temporary - emotions, thoughts, circumstances will pass and practice intentionality around those that feel helpful while knowing that the unhelpful ones will pass