Do you sometimes feel that you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, forced to choose between two options which hardly appeal?
For example have you ever
- Been in a job you hated, wanting to leave, but been so tired at the end of the day that you had no energy left to devote to what you really wanted to do – look for a new job, train for a new career or start your own business?
- Found yourself exhausted from juggling the stresses of a busy daily life, but keeping on top of all your commitments meant you rarely find the time to relax and recharge your energy levels?
- Felt unhappy with the way somebody is treating you but not wanted to anger them or hurt their feelings?
- Felt committed to a person or project that in some way compromised your values or identity?
- Found yourself constantly saying: I’d love to but… I need/have to… I have no choice…?
It’s a frustrating and uninspiring place to be, when you feel stuck with no visible way forward – at least not in a direction you want to go – powerless to change the options (or lack of) available. It often seems easier to resign yourself to being stuck than to fight for a way out.
Having said that, are things really black and white? Are there only ever two options? What if we could look at the situation in a different way, shine a light on another perspective or three?
Here are some techniques you can try:
Rephrase the situation to what you want, not what circumstances (or other people) dictate, e.g. I want to balance my energy levels, work commitments and have time for both.
Say and instead of but: “I respect this person’s feelings and my own.”
Replace ‘I can’t’ with ‘What if‘ – What if I can be more genuine and true to myself in everything that I do?
What if your ‘rock’ and ‘hard place’ were not hemming you in or blocking your path, but providing you with enough resistance to build up your drive and momentum, like the banks of a river that keep the water flowing?
The key here is choice, and choice doesn’t live on a straight line between two options. It comes in different sizes, directions, variations and dimensions. Even if you think that you’re stuck between doing one thing or another, you always have a choice of how, when and how often you do it, who you are being and how much you put in, who you bring along for the ride… and of course, not to do anything at all.