There was a time that I would wake up feeling stuck. I felt like there had to be more to life than just floating through it, doing things I was supposed to be doing. I had insomnia. I had panic attacks at the thought of going to work. I lost my appetite, and started having health issues that I never had before.
It wasn’t long before I was really depressed, but I didn’t know why. I was doing everything I was supposed to do. I had a full-time job with benefits, I was living on my own, I paid my bills on time, I had a wonderful and supportive family. So why did I feel like there was a giant hole in my stomach? Why was I struggling to get out of bed every morning? This wasn’t how life was supposed to feel — or was it? I was stuck, and I didn’t know what to do about it.
I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the universe’s way of telling me I was on the wrong path. Over the past few years, I’ve come to learn the cues: When I’m doing something I enjoy, I feel vibrant, and I’m almost shaking with excitement. When I am forced to do something, I feel sad or depressed and easily drained — the days drag on.
It’s so important to pay attention to those little hints your body gives you. When I’m practically giddy to go to work, it’s a good sign. When I’m struggling to make it through my days, it’s time to reassess. Sometimes I catch it early on, and other times I’m so focused on everything that’s going on in my life that I don’t pay attention until I’m at my breaking point. Does any of this sound familiar?
I used the three steps below to do some soul-searching. It was not an overnight miracle, but I was willing to commit if it meant I was able to shape my life into the one I’ve always wanted.
Three ways to get unstuck
Quiet the mind, and get in touch with your body. Don’t overthink this step. As a beginner, it can be very difficult to meditate without getting frustrated. It is completely normal to have your mind wander, or even to fall asleep in the beginning. Don’t be hard on yourself. This is a process, and if you stick with it, you’ll be able to get the answers you need.
Once you’re comfortable with meditating, envision something you love to do and tune in to how your body feels. Are you getting butterflies? Is there a smile on your face? Now think of something you dread doing. Are your eyebrows wrinkled? Is your breathing restricted? Remember these sensations, because they are the cues you are looking for in your day-to-day life.
2. Pay attention
What is making you giddy, and what is making you feel like you’d rather hide and curl into a ball until the day is over? Tap into those tasks or moments that fill you with excitement and passion, and figure out how to get more of them. Maybe you’re hosting a party and notice that you’re loving every second of the planning, from the food to the decor to the guest list. Think about looking into event planning, or joining the social committee in your workplace.
Think back to when you were a kid, and try to remember what you spent a lot of your time doing. Did you spend a lot of time performing onstage? Were you the kid standing up to the bullies? Or maybe you were the one making up really cool games at recess. As kids, we naturally do what we love. It’s when we get older that fear and responsibilities set in. Tap into that inner child for a good indicator of your natural strengths and happiness triggers.
Getting on the right path isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but it is completely rewarding to feel like you once again have a purpose.