“Is this all? Eat, drink, have sex, snort. Tell me what else? You get to be 50, pot-bellied, full of hair, your liver bursts from eating this crap and you live like these rich mummies. That’s it? I work so hard for only this? Tell me.”— Tony Montana in Scarface
Most of us will reach a time in our life when we begin re-evaluating who we truly are outside of the illusionary identity we’ve been clinging to and without the status of our career or relationship situation. This crisis of consciousness can be epic — like experiencing a dark night of the soul where it feels like the ground beneath our feet is beginning to crumble, and our entire existence is getting thrown into question. Or it can be something simple — like just being sick and tired of being sick and tired of the monotony and mundane nature of life (see Tony Montana’s quote above).
In these moments in life, whether big or small, we crave something more meaningful and purposeful and yearn for truth. In many ways, we are empty and unsure of where to go or what to do to fill ourselves up again.
Many psychologists say these bouts of self-examination typically arise during midlife, but I wonder if it is far more pervasive. In our age of rapid technology, where screens are engineered to steal our attention and keep us searching for that next hit of dopamine, emptiness is inevitable.
Maybe you’re not in midlife. And maybe, you never felt empty, but we all have experienced the proverbial “hitting a wall.” During a bout of feeling burnt-out, writer Brandon Kyle Goodman posted this on social media:
I told my friend that I’m emotionally hitting a wall and she said “Sometimes walls are there so we can lean on them and rest.”
He responded: “I can’t even begin to express how much I really needed to hear that.”
Sometimes in life, we reach a point where there is very little pep in our step to continue moving forward on something we’ve been doing. Although we might initially internalize this as a negative, it actually is a sign to reset and reconsider where we have been going and what we really want out of our lives.
Here’s the hard truth that we are oblivious to most of the time: the hamster wheel of life is very real and exhausting, and the more we run on auto-pilot, the further we move away from the truth of who we are and what we really desire our life to be.
So whether it’s midlife, hitting a wall, or spinning our wheels on auto-pilot, it is all the classic case of feeling stuck.
A few weeks ago, I posted this about feeling “stuck:”
I have found that feeling stuck usually is the result of not acknowledging what our inner world is asking us to address. Whether that’s because we don’t want to experience unpleasant emotions or face a difficult truth about ourselves, sometimes, it’s easier to deny what’s bubbling up inside us and to keep doing what we have been doing. Let’s face it, who wants to intentionally cause chaos for themselves and blow up their life?
In his various books on minimalism, Joshua Fields sums this up nicely:
“People often avoid the truth for fear of destroying the illusions they’ve built.”
And he advises: “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything. ”
My first meditation teacher, Vishen Lakhiani calls this the “beautiful destruction” — where we sometimes have to destroy a part of ourselves so something greater can be ushered in.
So the real answer to stop feeling stuck?
Start giving your life a hard look, at who you are as a person, and what brings you meaning and purpose. But there’s a catch here. This is not somebody else’s version of “meaning and purpose.” This is not what society, religion, or your upbringing told you about the type of life you should have. This is about getting honest with yourself and defining what is true for you. There is no time like the present to begin actively designing your future life. Maybe that time is now for you.
Brené Brown wrote in her book Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution:
“People who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses.”
You’re just as much of a badass if the person you tell the truth to is yourself.
Below are some questions you can ask yourself to help jumpstart this process.
Explore the following:
Now, whose voice is answering these questions? Are these answers coming from deep within me, or are they corrupted by outside influences? Does it feel true? If any of your answers don’t feel like they are 100% yours, keep asking them and questioning your answers.
The way to keep your ego out of this process is to answer from emotion and intuition and keep questioning if it feels undeniably true for you.
But keep in mind, this is not something you need to force or create. These answers are within you. To put this in perspective, here’s a screenshot from a live session on “Manifesting Your Best Self” from the Monroe Institute that I took part in:
The questions below are from an article by Elaine Dundon. They were originally created to help mid-lifers reflect upon and arrive at deeper insights into life. Regardless if you are in your midlife, asking these questions can be beneficial in understanding the trajectory of your life more clearly — especially when you feel you are at a crossroads.
“And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!” And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No. This is what’s important.”― Iain Thomas
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