Years ago, I had a therapist ask me what I liked to do for fun. And you know what? The question stopped me in my tracks because I had no answer! I mean, if she’d asked me what parts of my life I didn’t like or what I was working hard to fix, I could have gone on for days with my answers. But what I liked to do for fun?! I felt clueless.
It’s been 23 years since I was first asked that question and I’ve gone on to discover that it’s a tricky question for many people to answer. Why is this? Well, for one, it’s surprisingly easy to find yourself in a rut in your life. You know, the kind of rut that quietly forms as you go through the daily motions of life, fulfilling your responsibilities, and feeling overwhelmed by the parts of you or your life that feel wrong or like they need to be fixed. Over time, if this rut continues, joy frequently becomes more fleeting as it’s a part of life that feels expendable. Loneliness can even sneak in despite the fact that you may be surrounded by people.
The thing about ruts is that paralysis often accompanies them, making change feel impossible. No matter how tired of the rut you may be, implementing a lot of changes in your life can feel utterly overwhelming. As we move into a new year, everywhere we look, we can see posts and articles suggesting a multitude of steps we can take to upgrade our lives and have the best year yet. While I’m all for having the best year yet, long lists to add to my to do list can feel awful! And having to implement a lot of steps or resolutions when you’re already feeling stuck in a rut can leave you feeling like you’ve failed before you’ve even begun!
Well, I’ve got some fabulous news! You don’t have to make big changes in your life to begin to feel a difference. What if I told you that inviting curiosity to the scene can change your whole experience? I’m serious. Become curious about what interests you. I’ve been reading Big Magic, a fabulous book by the well known author, Elizabeth Gilbert. She writes, “I asked myself, Is there anything you’re interested in right now? Anything? Even a tiny bit? No matter how mundane or small?” You see, you don’t even have to know the answer at first. Asking the question invites your mind to start noticing what you find interesting or what brings you delight.
I’ve asked myself some form of this question for over 20 years. And the answers that showed up have been different each time. There was the time I followed my interest and joined a coed indoor soccer team that played once a week for an hour. Another year, I discovered I wanted to start sketching again and built that into my life for a short amount of time each week. A couple years ago, I realized I was intrigued by improv comedy and started taking a class once a week (that was SO FUN!!). Other times, it was gardening that delighted me. Lately, I feel interested in running again (haven’t done this in 30 years so we’re talking baby steps here, people!). The best part of all? Each time I followed a nudge toward something that felt interesting or filled me with delight, often for only 1 hour a week, my life changed for the better and I began to feel more of how I DID want to feel rather than how I didn’t want to feel when I was in a rut. New parts of me came alive. You see? It isn’t necessary to make huge changes to feel the difference!!
So as we move into this new year, I invite you to become curious about two things:
- Ask yourself, “Is there anything I’m interested in right now? Anything? Even a tiny bit? No matter how mundane or small?” And then follow those nudges of interest and see where they lead you.
- Ask yourself, “How DO I want to feel this year?” Since your mind is likely in the habit of noticing all the ways you DON’T want to feel, this question offers the mind a new perspective to chew on
We all know what it feels like to make a New Year’s resolution. And we know what it feels like to give up on it a few weeks later because it feels so impossible. But what if it isn’t about adding something challenging or difficult into our already busy lives? What if it’s about following your soul’s nudges toward something that feels interesting or delightful? And what if it turns out you only need to do this thing for one hour a week or less to begin to feel a BIG difference in your life? This works because it feeds a part of your soul that you lose touch with when you are in a life rut. It raises your vibration without having to work hard at it. And suddenly you remember how you DO want to feel in 2020 and you realize that this very feeling is showing up more and more simply because you began to tune in to what interests you, what you like to do for fun or what fills you with delight. How’s that for easy?
If you feel stuck in a rut, try asking yourself the above questions and see what you find! I’d love to hear and I bet others would feel inspired by your ideas, too!
And if you’re rut makes these questions feel impossible to answer right now, know that you are not alone! Sometimes the thing that can interest you the most is finding support as you navigate a rut. If you’re ready to feel different in your life, but you’re overwhelmed by how to do this and you want support in the process, reach out to me and we can schedule a discovery call. We can talk about working together in private sessions and I can show you just how possible it is to shift out of your rut without having to work super hard to make it happen. Why? Because I love easy and I bet you do, too! So here’s to easy strategies that make a huge difference as we embark on a new year!
Emily Colwell, MSSW, ND
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