Do you feel like you’re stuck in a rut?

Maybe you feel like your having the same day over and over again, stamping out fires or feeling lost in some dense fog?

You are not alone but one of millions who feel completely trapped in lives that haven’t turned out quite the way they expected.

If you are feeling dissatisfied with life, have lost your mojo, or if your life seems of such little significance that you’re not inspired to bounce out of bed, then chances are you’re stuck in a rut.

We’ve all found ourselves stuck at some point. It’s endless and soul destroying and no matter how many nights we lie in bed awake, trying to figure it all out, we can’t seem to see a way out.

It’s no fun being stuck in a rut, or asking ourselves questions like, Why can’t I lose weight? Why can’t I find my soulmate? Why can’t I find a job that I love? Or why do I keep putting this off?

Being stuck in a rut is a figurative term to describe a boring, habitual behavioural pattern. It’s doing the same thing over again, and over a period of time. You can seem to be digging yourself into a deep trench because you tread the same old ground again and again, until you sink yourself down into a deep hole and have difficulty getting out.

Ruts make us feel extremely frustrated and unhappy. We feel like we’re missing out on life and often feel embarrassed or ashamed if we’re unable to fix it. Because of this, we tend to lie to those around us about being unhappy.

Whilst being stuck is truly painful, frustrating and draining on the body, there is wisdom in staying in a rut.

Our ruts keep us safe and secure. We remain wrapped in a cocoon and well within our comfort zone. In fact, change and growth are painful things and we may not be ready to take that leap. Immediate change may not be in our best interests. Staying in a rut for a period can bring us a new awareness about ourselves, an understanding of our habits, or clarify an assumption or a belief about ourselves. It can also keep at bay unresolved feelings that are not ready to be processed.

A rut provides a life balance between routine and spontaneity. But there is a difference between a helpful routine and the sense of being trapped in a life we don’t want to live.

Why Do We Get Stuck in Ruts?

The reason you’re stuck in rut is because you have not resolved your unfinished business. We carry our unresolved childhood experiences and traumas into our present-day lives. Coupled with being continually misguided by listening to our inner critic, we buy into the negative self-talk so do not live our lives authentically and to our fullest.

What is Unfinished Business?

Your unfinished business is any difficult situation or traumatic experience of the past that has remained unresolved until now. Unfinished business gives you no closure or satisfactory resolution. For example, a person may hold underlying feelings of rage, resentment, hatred, anxiety, grief, pain, guilt or abandonment that have not been fully expressed and experienced. The person is completely unaware of these feelings lingering in the background, giving rise to present-day self-sabotaging behaviours, negative mindsets and compulsions.

We can all tolerate a level of unfinished business, but if these disturbances haunt our adult lives, preventing us from making the decisions to live authentically, we remain stuck. It’s not until the person deals with their issues and begins to makes sense of these alienated feelings that the unfinished business is resolved.

How Do I Get Out of My Rut?

There are three steps to getting out of your rut: challenging your childhood beliefs, which create a childlike mindset; living by your high priority or core values; and ridding “shoulds” from your vocabulary.

To get out of your childlike mindset you must look over your childhood parenting and experiences. This is where your first beliefs – the principles and convictions that we generally hold true and do not question – were formed.

Our beliefs about ourselves grow from birth based on what we see, hear, experience, read and think about. As we mature into adults, we take on board all the ideas and suggestions from our authority figures, carers, and culture without much processing, and subsequently absorb covert and overt messages about ourselves.

From our childhood experiences, we develop suggestions and opinions that we continue to hold true. Our self-belief has been repeated and confirmed in our minds so it strengthens. Eventually, the emotions underlying the suggestions and opinions we have about ourselves become beliefs.

How Do We Carry Negative Beliefs about Ourselves?

Our unconscious mind receives twenty million bits of information per second, but we can only consciously process seven, plus or minus two, bits of information at a time. Our filtering system is very weak as an early infant. We absorb, filter and process information from many different sources without really analysing it. It’s sort of like swallowing without chewing it over and we do this without question because we trust our caregivers. As we get older, from the age of twelve onwards, we question who we are. The filter becomes stronger, so less and less suggestions are allowed in, hence the teenage years of identity struggle. However, although we get older and begin questioning things, there is still enough emotional memory to accept some beliefs so strongly that we don’t think of them as beliefs, but as knowledge and truths.

These beliefs stay with us as negative voices, like faint echoes of the past. It’s these words or experiences with parents that shape and influence our present-day reactions, perspectives, behaviours and choices.

What are some of the common beliefs, scripts or messages we carry around? Messages you may have adopted from your family system or society are:

“You must always work hard.”

“All men are liars.”

“Fat girls don’t get dates.”

“Good girls don’t get angry.”

Or individual messages like:

“I’m too old to start a business.”

“I’m so selfish.”

“I am not good enough.”

“I must please people.”

“I must be perfect.”

“I don’t need help.”

Can you think of some family, society or personal statements that you’ve carried with you from childhood?

When carrying these negative beliefs around in our heads, we hear the critical voice, which gives rise to the term “inner critic”, and don’t listen to our own.

Our negative beliefs, scripts or messages (pertaining to ourselves) give rise to self-limiting beliefs. This is because we operate out of old beliefs about ourselves, which conflict with present-day values and priorities. They are limiting because we believe them and create excuses as to why we can’t move forward.

Our old ways of being and relating hold us back and become the blocks, resistances, habits, excuses, patterns and obstacles that keep us stuck.

Unsure if you have any self-limiting beliefs? Look at the list below for clues.

Self-limiting beliefs can manifest in your life:

  • When you have negative thoughts
  • When you complain about things
  • When you talk to yourself in unkind ways
  • When you make excuses
  • When you worry about making mistakes
  • When you procrastinate a lot
  • When you worry a lot
  • When you have perfectionist traits

By letting go of old patterns and old truths about yourself you can wake up to who you really are, and not who you think you ought to be.

So, in order to lead a successful, integrated and fulfilled life, you need to revisit childhood beliefs, your unvoiced feelings that are leading to self-sabotaging behaviours, because if these are not fully acknowledged, the unfinished business will linger in the background. The key is to become aware of your old belief systems, and form new ones, in order to make choices that don’t conflict with your high-priority values.

Excerpt taken from Fiona Craig’s award-winning book, Stuck in a Rut: How to rescue yourself and live your truth available on Amazon, Angus & Robbinson, Collins, Dymocks and independent bookstores throughout Australia.

A paperback copy can also be purchased through Fiona Craig’s website, Life Balance Coach.

life coach sydney, stuck in a rut, Fiona CraigFiona Craig is an NLP practitioner & life coach, psychotherapist, business mentor, and published author of the award winning self-help book, “Stuck in a Rut – How to rescue yourself & live your truth” helping women remove the fear, worry and guilt to confidently take the steps towards creating the life they want to live.

Fiona has been interviewed by The Australian Women’s Weekly, Women’s Fitness Magazine and The New Daily and written articles for Collective Magazine, Herald Sun Melbourne, Sunday Life Magazine, Career One, I Am Woman Magazine, plus Mouths Of Mums and other online publications. You can learn more about working with Fiona at www.lifebalancecoach.com.au or call 0405 433 217.