Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Gerbil Wheel of Inertia

I recently watched Oprah’s Life Class and she held a pole on twitter asking her audience if they were in emotional or spiritual pain. 77% of respondents said yes they were. That is a lot of suffering!

In our book LIFE we talk about learning to let the past go, overcoming our limiting beliefs, and paying attention to our excuses. Holding onto negative experiences and emotions from the past, dwelling on negative thoughts, and clinging to our persistent, repetitive stories keep us locked in a cycle of suffering—they keep us trapped on the gerbil wheel of inertia.

Pain and suffering are often caused by inaction. We call these episodes of inertia ‘ruts.’ Situations and circumstances that make us feel trapped can cause a cavalcade of negative emotions: misery, depression, anger, frustration, guilt, and or shame. We feel stuck and we can’t seem to find our way out. It seems like all we are doing is spinning our wheels. We will tell people how unhappy we are, or how frustrated we are, or how angry we are, but we seem unable to do anything about it.

Part of the problem is our story—what we tell ourselves and everyone around us. If we talk about negativity we stay involved in that negativity. We have to stop the story. Talking about our problems can be cathartic, but when the story becomes repetitive, essentially we are just talking to hear ourselves speak; we are not actually doing anything at all to change the situation. We have gotten caught up in our story, in our need for validation, in our need to prove our side, our mistreatment. The story keeps us spinning our squeaky little metal wheels and we dig in even deeper, entrenching ourselves in our ruts.

We need to change our story! We need to stop dwelling on negativity and focus instead on gratitude for what is already positive in our life and we need to move toward that which will make us happy. We need to take action!

There are two ways to get out of our ruts, but they both start with the most crucial action we can take—we need to make a decision! Wishing things were different accomplishes nothing. Deciding to do something about it... ah, now we are getting somewhere!

We need to decide ‘enough is enough!’ Either ‘we don’t want to do this anymore,’ or ‘we won’t do this anymore!’ Let me explain the difference.  Whether we are saying ‘I don’t’ or ‘I won’t,’ we are finally accepting the situation for what it is—a negative situation and we are admitting that we don’t want to be stuck in it any longer and now we are ready to do something about it!

When we say ‘I don’t want to do this anymore,’ we take the energy we would have used running on our gerbil wheels of inertia and make small, but instrumental, baby steps that move us toward a happier life, a safer situation, and or a more peaceful outcome. If we are in a job we dislike, for example, we might not be able to just up and quit, but we can stop complaining about it, we can accept it for what it is—a job that makes us unhappy—and we start moving toward our goal: a job that we will enjoy coming into work for every day. Perhaps we start upgrading our skills, perhaps we source out the help wanted ads, perhaps we take yoga or meditation classes to help us deal with stress. Each action moves you closer toward a happier experience.

The alternative to working our way slowly, yet methodically out of our ruts is to decide ‘enough is enough!’ and yell to the world, ‘I won’t do this anymore.’ We dig in our heels, stop the crazy ride once and for all, and immediately change our situation—cold turkey. No excuses, no remorse, no looking back. If we are unhappy with our job, we get a new one; if we are unhappy in a relationship, we find a new partner; if a friendship is toxic, we find a new friend.

You are here on this magical adventure called life, and your purpose is to be happy: to life a live of happiness and fulfillment and to experience peace of mind and well-being every day. If you are stuck, ask yourself if inertia is holding you back. If you are in pain, ask yourself if you are perpetuating your suffering because you continue to talk about your negative situation–remember like attracts like. The more we talk about how bad things are, the more we will continue to draw negative experiences into our lives. We need to change our stories. State the facts, “I don’t like my job,” but don’t dwell on it. Make the decision to change it—either by taking small baby steps as you immerse yourself in the things that make you happy and consistently make choices that move you closer to your goal; or go cold turkey with a broad sweeping, life altering, immediate move to change your circumstances.

Don’t let the world to pass you by; don’t let inertia mire you deep in the muck of your ruts. Decide ‘enough is enough’ and reclaim your power, reclaim your life, and always, follow what feels good.

In gratitude,

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