Most people who face a situation of "drowning in a swamp" at work or in business try to ignore this feeling as long as they can. Their way to ignore the swamp is to try to get even more stuff done. Because this is what we are taught when young, isn't it – if you keep doing something, something will shift. Wrong answer!
Remember the first rule of walking in a swamp – the more you move, the faster it sucks you in? It works exactly the same way with a metaphorical bog.
If you want to get out of your swamp, first of all you need to stop. Just stop doing anything. Stopping does not mean standing still and watching yourself slowly sinking into the bog. All you have to do is give yourself a little time to take a breath and look around.
We attract what we carry inside. If we are stressed and lost, we only attract more stress. When we are relaxed and happy, we are able to get more of that into our lives, too. Think for a moment about the best things you've got in your life. Have they happened to you when you were incredibly stressed and running around, or were feeling still and whole?
Positivity psychologists say that negative emotions have a tendency to form a downward spiral, i.e. one negative sensation provokes another and so on. It has been scientifically proven that when we are immersed in the swamp of negative feelings, our perception narrows down, and we only can concentrate on 1-2 things, usually negative, too, and ignore other options available around. In order to break a downward spiral of negative feelings, you need to stop and consciously create some positive emotions in your life.
Again, I am not telling you to ignore problems you have (you won’t be able to do that anyways as negative feelings are by definition much louder than positive ones!). What you need to do is to make an effort and pull yourself out of your current state to be able to see things from a different perspective. You need to shift your energy from negative to positive (and by energy I mean how you feel in your body).
My personal recipe when things get really stuck is to go to the seaside for a few days. I just buy a ticket and go. I had this overwhelming period last summer and decided to book a ticket. Guess what happened ten minutes after I did it -- I got two calls from big corporate clients asking me for appointments for next week! They had been silent for the previous three months! I said I had to postpone it, and they were happy to wait! They always are when you're positive.
Surely, not everyone can afford themselves the luxury of changing the scenery instantly. However, anyone can do something to experience a positive emotion - joy, gratitude, love, interest etc. Unless you consciously do it yourself when you are stressed and running around, nobody else would be able to help you. This is the key, so I will repeat it again:
Unless you start shifting your own energy from negative into positive, no one will be able to help you. There’s no point in waiting for things to change if you are not changing yourself.
Here’s a check list for getting out of the swamp. Remember, it's up to you to change your situation any time just by taking a different perspective.
1. Recognize you are in a swamp. Be honest with yourself. This is the most difficult part because it involves a lot of negative feelings associated with it - frustration, anger, fear. Just allow them to be. They will pass if you name them.
2. Stop doing anything. Take a breath. Ask yourself what’s really important right now and what you’d really like to do if everything were sorted out.
3. Listen to yourself. LISTEN. TO. YOURSELF. You have no idea how many people know what they would love to do, but don’t allow themselves to trust their guts because they think it’s irrelevant. Don’t start doing anything until you’ve clearly heard your inner voice.
4. Dedicate some time to doing what you’ve told yourself you'd like to do, no matter how silly and unrelated to the current situation it sounds. Be reasonable, but aspiring.
If you are in debt and feel like going on a 5-star cruise, it's probably not a very good idea. But is there anything more immediate and less expensive you could do? Perhaps staying with your book at home or sitting on the bank of the river watching the water?
Doing something positive for yourself is the best thing you can do right now to improve your situation, because when you are happy, your thinking expands and you are able to see the solutions you wouldn't have thought of before. Again, it has been scientifically proven.
5. When you’re in your happy and still state of mind (and only then!), look at your swamp. Imagine as if you were standing next to it. Watch it carefully. What is to appreciate about it? What is it teaching you? If you were 80 years old and were telling your grandchildren a fairy tale about this swamp and its inhabitants, what would it be about?
6. What do you notice now about this swamp?
Are there any tree branches you can pull? Is your swamp more shallow then you thought? Or is there perhaps a talking frog sitting somewhere around whom you can ask for directions? You’ll be surprised with what you discover when you look at it from a different perspective.
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