Sometimes I get stuck. This information may come as a surprise to you.
Even though I’m a therapist and have spent years studying the art of avoiding holes, I still fall into some deep pits when I’m on autopilot.
When I got stuck last week, Funkadelic threw down a rope and pulled me out.
Here’s what happened.
Life Is Hard
My life in so many ways is easy. I have a roof over my head, I can feed my family, my loved ones are healthy. What have I got to complain about?
Sometimes I feel dissatisfied but then think I have no right to feel this way so end up feeling guilty as well. When this happens I pull myself back and remember the quote;
“If you’re drowning in 50 foot of water and I’m drowning in 30 foot of water, we’re both still drowning.”
I’ve been drowning over the last few weeks.
There’s been personal challenges going on in my family and I’ve been all over the place at work.
The irony of having a job I love is that I often find it difficult to prioritise.
FOMO leads me to paralysis.
There is so much I want to do that I end up doing nothing lest I miss out on doing the other thing that I could be doing when I’m doing the first thing.
God, I exhaust myself sometimes!
My other superpower is the ability to work myself up into a self-righteous funk about things that don’t matter.
I get all worked up about other people’s business and it’s not useful.
The Cost – Procrastination
If you were having a therapy session with me I’d probably launch myself to my whiteboard at this moment and write down the sequence of events.
It would look something like this:
Thoughts– “How can I sort this out?” “Why the hell are they doing that?” “Shouldn’t I be doing that other thing instead of this?”
Feelings – overwhelm, anger, frustration
Sensations – tightness in my chest
Short term behaviour – Do nothing (Sit on the sofa), complain to my partner
Short-term consequence – feel slightly better as I numb out
Long term consequence on life – get nothing done, piss off my partner
Long term consequence on self – feel even more stuck and frustrated and tell myself “you’re bloody hopeless – Why haven’t you sorted this out”,
For those of you who want to know, this is an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy loop. It was first introduced to me by my supervisor, Mark Webster (buy his book on this here, it’s only a couple of quid – affiliate link).
I’m sure you’ve noticed similar circular patterns in your life.
It’s like getting stuck in the washing machine on a slow rinse. Round and round and round and round and…
Enter George Clinton – Master of Funk
Last week I was sitting on the sofa after just completing another good rant about something I had no control over.
My poor suffering partner was nodding sympathetically and doing her best to validate me.
My stereo was on shuffle and miraculously, just as I was feeling particularly angry, it played “Maggot Brain” by Funkadelic.
Now this is a striking tune, so I shut up for a few minutes to listen.
The track is famous for the amazing guitar solo delivered by Eddie Hazel, but it was the lyrics that struck me hard.
It was like God was talking to me.
“I have tasted the maggots in the mind of the universe
I was not offended
For I knew I had to rise above it all
Or drown in my own shit”
There it was. My message.
“Rise above it all, or drown in your own shit”.
Funkadelic cut through all the crap in my head in 5 seconds flat.
Drowning In My Own Shit
What the god of funk had commanded me to do was to step back from it all and notice how I was creating my own drama.
My brain whips up a festering pit of frustration and resentment and then I duly throw myself in head first.
The stories I tell myself are not true and not useful.
Once I’ve created the stories, I allow myself to become trapped and stuck in them because I’m focusing on the wrong thing. I’m focusing on the story, not the reality of my life.
This takes me away from what’s important to me.
It annoys my partner who has to listen to my rants.
It means I do nothing with my business.
It leaves me even more stuck and takes me away from my values.
Rise above it all
The alternative? Step back, notice what I am doing, pat myself on the back for noticing and get on with what’s important.
Engage with my other half in a more loving way – maybe even listen to what’s going on in her life!
Do one thing that will take me towards the business I enjoy so much.
Notice that some things have nothing to do with me and let them go.
The result – I get back into my life.
Thank you George Clinton – you saved me!
What about you?
Do you get stuck like this? What are your strategies for stepping back and seeing the thoughts just as thoughts and not truths? Let me know on the comments below.
My anthem has now become my wall paper for my phone.
This helps me defuse from my thoughts every time I pick it up (which, lets face it, is about every 40 seconds).
If you want a copy to put on your phone too, just click the image on the right to download!
Want to learn more about ACT?
If you want to learn more about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, just click here and find out about my online course.
The course will take you through the model step by step and help you step out of your thoughts and back into the reality of your life.