A couple of weeks ago, I decided to offer my readers advice on a problem of their choosing. I got some interesting responses and this is the post that will feature my first answer.
In case you missed it, click here to read an overview or jump right to the comment section to vent about your situation.
Let’s get right to it!
Anonymous advice would be good, I will take absolutely anything I can get because my life feels just stuck right now and I’m at the lowest point I’ve ever been. I’ll try to make it as short as possible. So after high school, I went to college for music. I had to drop out during my 2nd semester, as my girlfriend got pregnant and I had to devote more time to work in order to pay child support. We broke up. I worked in a restaurant. A few years later, still stuck waiting tables and having no direction, my sensei asked me if I wanted to run a martial arts school, which I graciously accepted. Eventually got back together with baby’s mama, but for the wrong reasons. We are going through divorce right now, been separated over a year. We have a special needs kid, making it real hard for mom to find work. Also I am totally sick of my job. I didn’t realize how much stress went into the business aspect of it, and while my personality type is great for teaching, I’m really not cut out to be a business man. Add on top of this, I met a girl over summer who was absolutely perfect for me in every way, fell in love, and she dumped me. I have tried to date again, and what I discover is my late hours at work make it really tough. Anybody with a job works normal hours, and is going to bed shortly after I finish. So i’ve been living with my parents, who just split up a few months ago, are selling the house, and also I have no friends to give me any type of support. I know what I want-a new career path that has earlier hours, a friend or 2, and someone to love. It feels like I’m totally trapped, I can’t go back to school because I’m still financially responsible for child support and alimony for another 2 years, any other jobs I can find don’t pay enough, I’m not qualified for anything else. I find great women who I could probably build a relationship with all the time, but my schedule always prevents anything from going anywhere. So what would your advice be?
Thanks senseiblake for sharing, it probably wasn’t easy to write it all out. (Jump to ‘Concluding Notes‘ if you’re outta time).
It seems that a bunch of things are wrong. You feel stuck, you’re coming from an uneasy past, you’re dealing with your own AND your parents’ divorce, there’s job dislike, heartbreak, loneliness, financial difficulties, career uncertainty, relationship struggles and to top it all off, a crammed schedule preventing you from building a new relationship.
Let me just say before I even start that I’m sorry you had to go through so much pain. In order to make my advice as helpful as possible though, please keep in mind that there will be some tough love in my response.
I can write you a whole book on how unfortunate you’ve been, how unfair everything is, and how you got thrown into a bunch of mess you didn’t deserve. And perhaps there would be a bit of truth to that – but it wouldn’t help you change the situation.
Your story reads like a victim statement. You didn’t come here to write about an issue we can solve, you came here with a black-and-white mindset (mostly black) focused on all the darkness you have encountered, hoping for a savior. Now trust me – this is coming from a girl who led the most depressing journal you can imagine (and quite similarly along the lines of your post). I am trying to help you while I’m saying this.
Three things you may not be aware of pop up right away:
1. Our past does not define us.
2. It is normal – crucial, even – that life has its ups and downs, and what really matters is how we react to them and what we learn from them.
3. ‘Stuck’ is a feeling, and it is in you, not in reality. It is a fear of letting go of the old and the familiar, although we know we must move on. The Universe is indifferent. You can claim all the power you need.
Now that we got this out-of-the-way, let me elaborate.
Let’s start with the theme of feeling stuck and trapped. This is something near and dear to my heart since I’ve been dealing with the same thing for quite some time, until very recently. Therefore I’m gonna spit out a bunch of statements, based on my experience, some of which might not fit you – so apologies if I’m not getting this right.
A bunch of stuff happened, some of which you had control over, some of which you didn’t, and you ended up in a non-desirable situation. At first you can’t quite put a finger on what’s the matter, it just feels wrong, so you keep searching for logical reasons for your unhappiness. And they keep showing. One day, you have a whole myriad of them to list out. So you do, to yourself, over and over again, and to anyone else who will listen. And yet, that didn’t help you. You’re still in the same place, now very much aware of all the things that are wrong, and don’t know what to do next.
In a cycle of negativity and unhelpful habitual patters that keep repeating themselves, casting a huge net over your head and your desires, the only way out is through shifting focus.
You, my friend, are a survivor. A fighter. A person who didn’t give up even in spite of the fact that all the things that could go wrong, probably did go wrong. You need to rewrite your story in your head and realize you did the best you could, at any given moment. Just like everyone else involved. Bad things happen to good people, it’s not your fault. But now we need to move on and let it go. You gotta get out a piece of paper and split it into 3 columns. Column 1 – where am I right now. Column 3 – where I wanna be. Column 2 – the actions that can get you there.
You simply cannot go to a better place if you don’t know where you’re going, what your intention is. Set a vision for yourself. No matter how small.
If I learned one thing from my episode of stuck-ness, it’s that only action can break the pattern. You gotta follow your curiosity, your desires. This will be scary. You gotta do it anyways. Do the tiny, necessary, life-changing things. Fill out a job application. Get a part-time certificate. Go meet people.
Now just so that I don’t forget what seemed like the most important part for you – you asked how can you build a relationship while your schedule is preventing you from building anything.
I’m not an expert on relationships, but I do believe that the problem isn’t some outside force preventing you from dating. I think the problem is that despite the fact that you want a relationship, and want to be loved and supported, your subconsciousness is scared. Look how you’ve described your previous experiences! It wasn’t exactly rainbows and unicorns. Maybe you’re scared to trust someone again, or to be vulnerable, or to share your problems with them. Our brain is smart enough to protect our ego from our fears and replace them by something logical, like ”I don’t have time”. Of course you do. You can make time. You can communicate about your schedule with your potential partner. But perhaps that’s not really the issue. I would really recommend you to have a look at some EFT stuff, the best thing out there is Brad Yates’ YouTube channel.
Sadly I’m not able to give you more ‘practical’ advice in regards to this without knowing you better and asking you questions!
On another note, I absolutely empathize as to how hard it is to have a job you love. I used to be this idealistic millennial, thinking if you do the right things, you can work from a beach and fulfill your life purpose at the same time, or something like that. (Not that I actually put any effort into that… Perhaps it is possible). I just know that sometimes, a passionate person can be at the right place at the right time. And if not, you can always think of ways to make your current job more bearable. How about hiring an intern to help out with the business side of things?
Lastly, with all this talk of taking control, I’m going to drop a massive paradox. Sadly (or fortunately?), life is full of them.
Sometimes the best thing you can do, and also the most freeing, is to completely let go and trust the flow of life, so to speak. Just give up your expectations, beliefs and goals and let yourself be truly present in the moment, carried forward on a wonderful wave. I’m not talking drugs. I’m talking, giving it all a break, putting a stop to overanalyzing everything, and enjoying the simple pleasures. A ray of sun. A stranger smiles at you. A stranger brushes their arm on yours in the tube. (This got real creepy, real quick). Seriously though. Sometimes you gotta give up control, to get your life back.
- Being stuck is just a feeling, and you’re in control of your feelings
- The only thing that can drive change is action. The only thing that will drive positive change for you is intentional action based on your desires, while ignoring your fearful ego telling you you can’t do it. Not easy, but very rewarding.
- Forgive yourself & forgive others (check out EFT)
- Let go for a minute and maybe, just maybe, you’ll find a 100 reasons to smile 🙂
- And remember, no one is living a perfect life! All this crap we see on social media is highly edited, and besides, no environment directly controls how you feel inside. You do!
This is all I got for you now, though I could probably babble forever. I hope at least some of this will be helpful. Feel free to let me know in the comments.
Good luck – and know that you’re not alone in your struggles.