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Last Updated on May 3, 2019

Why It’s Okay to Hit the Wall and How to Overcome It Fast

Why It’s Okay to Hit the Wall and How to Overcome It Fast

We have all been there… hitting the wall and thinking you just can’t go on. Stress and worry just overwhelm you. You think there is no way out.

But there is. There always is.

First things first. You need to change your way of thinking. The phrase, “change your thinking, change your life” is a very powerful truth. If you don’t think that your life will get better, then it won’t.

So, you need to start believing. Then things will start to turn around.

However, you can’t just stop there. While it’s essential to change your thinking first, you also have to change your actions. Because as the saying goes,

“the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

So now that we have that clear – thought and action – let’s move on to some more specifics about how you can improve several different areas of your life.

Hitting the Wall in Your Career

Let’s start with your career.

As sad as it is to say, it seems like most people don’t like their job or career. It’s simply not what they imagined they’d be doing when they were dreaming about the future as a child.

But let’s face it – nothing is permanent. If you have it the wall in your career, here are some things you can do.

1. Reflect on your talents and goals

A person’s job doesn’t always match their talents. So, sit down and try to analyze what you’re good at – and then try to find a career path to match the gifts that you have to offer the world.

After all, wouldn’t it be nice to actually enjoy what you do for a living and make a difference?

2. Set your sights on a promotion

If you don’t want to change your line of work, then you should think about a promotion. Sometimes people get a little too comfortable in their job. They know how to do it well, and so they just keep doing what they’re doing.

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But maybe it’s time to challenge yourself by going for a higher position. It will help you grow as a person, and it will probably put more money in your pocket too!

3. Start looking for another career path

Many times, people just simply drift into a job or career path accidentally. Unless you are one of the lucky ones who knew they wanted to be a doctor, lawyer, police officer, or something else that was definitive, most people just take the first job they can find.

So, if you’re unhappy with your current career path, start looking for another one.

Hitting the Wall When You’re Dating

These days, the dating world is very frustrating for most single people. Swiping left, swiping right. Getting ghosted. Failed short-term relationships. It can get depressing and cause you to hit a wall.

But don’t fret. There is hope if you try these things.

1. Try different ways of meeting people.

Dating apps

and websites are the most popular thing to do these days. So, if you haven’t tried them, try them. If you have, but with no success, try something else.

Join local groups or ask your friends to set you up. In other words, meet people the old-fashioned way.

2. Learn to read red flags

In order to avoid getting involved with the jerks, flakes, and losers of the world, you have to know how to read the red flags with the people you date. They may not always be obvious, but they’re always there.

From treating the waiter rudely to canceling dates, people’s behavior tells you everything you need to know about them. Check out these 6 Red Flags To Watch For When You’re Dating Someone.

3. Don’t give up hope

It’s easy to think that you’ll be single forever – especially if you haven’t had a lot of success in the dating world lately.

But don’t ever give up hope! It may take months, years, or even a couple of decades to get it right, but if you give up, then you never will.

Hitting the Wall in Your Marriage

For many people, marriage is difficult. It doesn’t have to be, but people often complicate it anyway.

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So, if you’ve hit the wall in your marriage, try these things:

1. Communicate!

No one is a mind reader, so you have to speak to each other about your problems.

Tell your spouse why you’re unhappy – but in a very non-critical way. Talk to each other.

But you have to work as a team, and not think of each other as “me vs. you.” That never works. After talking, take action required to make the marriage better.

2. Have empathy

If you get rid of your “competitive” spirit in your marriage, then you will have to have empathy for the other person’s point of view.

It takes two to tango… a marriage doesn’t go off into a ditch without two people participating, so listen to your spouse’s side of the story too.

3. Seek help if needed

If your marriage feels so far gone that you don’t think you can possibly fix it together, then see the help of a trained professional.This is when you should seek couples counselling.

They will help you communicate and make an action plan to cooperate and work on your problems together.

Hitting the Wall When Parenting

Kids… you love them, but sometimes you want to strangle them too or run away and never come back! Okay, that’s a bit dramatic. But you know what I mean. If you’ve hit the wall with your kids, here are some things to try.

1. Teach them empathy

Sometimes kids act out because they don’t see how their actions are affecting other people. So, you can teach them how to have empathy for other people – including yourself.

Start as early as possible. It’s easier to teach a toddler than it is a 17 year old. Here’re some effective ways to teach your children empathy.

2. Have and enforce rules

If there are no rules in the house, then the atmosphere turns chaotic. Children thrive on structure and routine.

So, if you don’t have rules, then make some. If you do and don’t enforce them, then change that too.

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This guide about how to discipline a child will help you.

3. Teach them consequences

Many people, including adults, don’t understand the consequences of their actions. So, if your kids think that they can do whatever they want, and they won’t get punished for it, then it’s your job to show them otherwise.

Hitting the Wall in Your Personal Finance

Most people have a love-hate relationship with money. They love it when they have it, and they hate it when they don’t. So, if you’ve hit the wall with your financial situation, here are some tips:

1. Re-evaluate your job or career

As mentioned above, sometimes people get in their comfort zone with their job or career and don’t think outside the box.

If you are not making enough money, then there are always ways to make more. Re-think what you are doing for a living.

2. Go back to school

This may sound counter-intuitive because of spending more money on school, but getting a degree (or a higher degree) might actually increase your earning potential.

As they say, you have to spend money to make money.

3. Figure out a budget

Many people have no idea where their money is going. They live in the moment, and then at the end of the month, they have no idea why they don’t have money in their bank account to pay the next rent. So, make a budget and stick to it.

These tips can help you keep your personal budget under control.

Hitting the Wall When Planning for the Future

Life is short – too short. So, you might as well have fun and enjoy it as much while you can! And you don’t have to win the lottery to have a good life.

Thinking about the future can be daunting. It’s exciting and scary at the same time. If you don’t know where your future is going to take you, then it’s time to try these:

1. Write down your 5, 10, and 20+ year goals

You can’t get somewhere without knowing where you’re going. It’s like sailing a boat on the ocean with no map hoping the wind will take you to China (highly unlikely).

So, sit down and think about where you want to be in 5, 10, or 20 years.

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2. Make an action plan

Now that you have your long-term goals written down, you need to make a plan of action.

Write down the things you will do every day, month, or year that will accomplish those goals.

3. Take action

While making an action plan sounds great, it means nothing if you don’t actually take the actions!

I know that sounds obvious, but so many people have good intentions and then abandon them later because of lack of follow-through. Don’t let that be you.

4. Make a bucket list

Many people talk about making a bucket list, but how many people actually do it? Or even if they make a list, do they actually check things off of it?

Why not be one of those people who actually makes their life better by accomplishing those things you want to do before you die.

5. Do things that you enjoy

Do you like walking in nature? Reading books? Taking a long bubble bath? Well, if so, why aren’t you doing more of it?

If your answer is “not enough time,” then try to make the time. Prioritize things that are important to you:

The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

6. Minimize stress

Stress is inevitable in life. However, some people create unneeded stress for themselves. Whether it’s relationship drama or overspending your paycheck, some of the stress is in your control. So, minimize stress when are where you can.

Final Thoughts

If you feel like you’ve hit a wall in any (or all) of these categories, don’t give up! You can change your life for the better. It does require a lot of effort, but it is worth it.

Everyone hits a wall or two now and again. So, you’re not alone. If you use some of these tips, your life will start to improve, and you will be happier in no time.

Featured photo credit: Ian Robinson via unsplash.com

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Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Last Updated on January 13, 2020

How to Use the 5 Minute Journal to Invest in Your Happiness

How to Use the 5 Minute Journal to Invest in Your Happiness

I was 10 and it was a white Lisa Frank journal with a red bubble gum dispenser on the front. It also came with a heart-shaped lock and key which was a must considering I had an older brother living under the same roof who was always looking for new and inventive ways to humiliate me.

That one little journal (okay…I called it a diary back then) unlocked a world of potential to me which quite literally became my saving grace, my happy place, for the rest of my life.

Over the years, the aesthetics of my journal evolved, as did my writing subjects and style thankfully. But the one thing that’s been constant is that, no matter how sad I am or how bad things have seemed before I started writing, somehow the world and my place in it always becomes clearer and less noisy after just 5 minutes of “writing it out.”

In this article, we will take a look at how investing a few minutes a day in the 5 minute journal can lead you to happiness.

The Benefits of the 5 Minute Journal

For most of my life, I never really knew or cared why writing for even 5 minutes made me happier, I just knew it worked.

If I was feeling lost or unhappy, I’d eventually realize I hadn’t written in a while (duh!). So I’d meet myself back at the blank page and word by word, start feeling more like me again.

To be completely honest, I did (and still do) this forgetting-to-journal dance way more often than I’d like to admit. For the life of me, I don’t know why I don’t keep doing the thing I know makes me happy every day instead of waiting until I’m unhappy to do the thing. Can you relate?

I’m pretty certain it’s not just a me thing: it’s a human thing. We know we’ll be happier if we eat better, exercise, disconnect from technology, get more sleep, etc. but often times, it takes us feeling unhappy in order to put in the effort to be more happy.

A couple of months ago, I found myself in that place:

I’d hit a wall of resistance around my business and a downturn in my health that caused me to doubt what I was capable of accomplishing. I was completely confused and indecisive about the direction of my business and where I should be focusing my limited energy, so I hired a coach to help me sort through my noisy brain.

As I laid out all of my decisions and endless to-do lists in front of her, she asked me an important question:

What’s one thing you can start doing everyday that will have a positive impact on all of these things?

In other words: What if instead of having to worry about ALL THE THINGS to be happier, you could just do ONE thing and everything else would get better too?

I could start every day with a few minutes in my journal.

It’s both hilarious and embarrassing that as a coach and a writer (and a coach who works with writers), that I hadn’t thought of this myself. Alas, as the saying goes, doctors are the worst patients.

Of course, the answer was writing in my journal! Isn’t the answer almost always the most obvious thing?

But sometimes, the answer is so obvious, so simple, so free and convenient that we convince ourselves that it can’t possibly do that much to improve our situation. Somehow in the busy-ness of life, I’d convinced myself I just couldn’t spare that time to do something so…(cringe) arbitrary.

Yet, as I thought about my coach’s question and the ONE THING that could positively affect all the things, I realized that journaling for me has always been so much more than a random outlet for exploring my feelings.

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Sure, nothing actually happened but me sitting on my bed in my pajamas writing. Over the years, from breakups to big moves, my most life-changing moments–like my decision to pursue writing as a career, to uproot my entire life and move cross country, and my finally feeling ready to become a mother–happened in the quiet moments between me and the pages of my journals.

How to Be Happy with the 5 Minute Journal

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine about writing this article. I asked her how often she journals and if she thought it made her happier.

In general, she said, yes, journaling does seem to help her get things off her chest but she doesn’t always feel better afterward. And, in fact, sometimes if she’s already in a negative place, she can spiral even worse while journaling and go to an even darker place.

She told me that usually with time and perspective, she can see that just the act of writing and getting out of her head is therapeutic but, suggested that for people like her, prompts to help her not spiral into the negative abyss would be super helpful.

And so, in order to make sure you get the most out of your 5 minute journal, I’ve broken up each writing prompt based on how you’re feeling so you can let your emotions guide the best prompt for you that day to increase your happiness meter.

1. When you’re burnt out, talk to your inner hero (a.k.a the “real” you).

What’s the one thing everyone tells you about maintaining happy, healthy relationships?

You’ve gotta have great communication!

But what about your relationship with yourself? How do you connect with you? How do you continue being the hero in your story?

The same way that you have to make the time to connect with the people in your life who mean the most to you, you also have to make the time for you to hear your voice:

To remember what YOU sound like amidst all of the noise in the world. To listen to your inner hero.

For me, the only way I know how to do this, the only way I’ve ever known how to do this, is through journaling.

Our brains can go down negative spirals, especially when we’re tired and stressed.

In my last Lifehack article about finding motivation, I walk you through some questions you can ask yourself about whether you’re playing the role of victim or hero of your story. Definitely check it out if you’re really on the brink, or in the midst, of some serious burn out.

Essentially, if you’re burnt out, you’ve somehow let your circumstances take control of your life. In other words, you’ve started to act like the victim instead of the hero.

Luckily, just 5 minutes in your journal can help you find your inner hero (your true voice) and reclaim your right to live your happiest life.

Write down these questions in your journal and answer them one at a time–permission to be 100% honest granted:

  • What do I believe is the #1 reason I’m feeling burnt out?
  • Who or what did I blame in my last answer?
  • Taking 100% responsibility for my own life and decisions, and casting blame on no one (including myself), how can I improve this situation?
  • What decisions am I currently making to stay in these circumstances (how am I choosing them)?
  • What new decisions can I start making to get closer to where I want to be?
  • What do I need to let go of in order to get my energy back? What do I need to say “no” to?

When you start to own your role of hero, you start to realize how your current choices and limiting beliefs may be holding you back from living the happiest version of your life.

The great news is once you realize your past choices have brought you to your current circumstances, you also realize that you can make different choices to bring you to a happier place.

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2. When you’re doubting yourself, write off the gremlins.

Whenever I’m feeling down on myself, it usually has less to do with what’s happening on the outside, and more to do of what’s happening between my ears. In other words, how “I’m” talking to myself.

We all have little shame gremlins (I call mine “Mean Girls”) who live inside of our heads and tell us we’re dumb and ugly and worthless. The only way to combat those noisy buggers is to expose them for the liars they are.

Writing down these lies makes them powerless. Once they’re out of your head and on paper, you realize how ridiculous they truly are (even though they were completely owning you just moments before).

I like to write out all the nasties and put them in their place (which is on the page and out of my head, pronto). Then I can go back to living my happy truth.

Here are some powerful questions to ask your inner gremlins (perhaps better known as you being a real jerk to yourself). Write down each question and answer them in your journal.

Ask your gremlins:

  • What are you saying about me? (Don’t hold back. Really write down all of the terrible thoughts you’re having about yourself)

Then ask:

  • Is anything true about each of the things I just wrote?
  • Repeat this same exercise for each of the nasty things your gremlins are saying about you and expose them in their lies once and for all.

When you’re done, answer these powerful questions:

  • Knowing what I know now, what’s one thing I can do to improve each of these areas of my life?
  • Knowing that the voices of the gremlins are strong, what are 3 new beliefs or positive affirmations I can say daily about myself to drown out their negativity?

For example, let’s use a fictional character of a guy named Sam. Sam’s gremlins are telling him “you’re a lousy parent, a terrible spouse, and mediocre at work.”

If Sam asks himself, “Am I really a lousy parent?” Maybe his answer is “No, I love my kids and I’m doing the best I can. I just wish I could be more attentive when I’m with them instead of so distracted by work.”

So maybe Sam decides to not bring his work computer home with him anymore and really unplug once he leaves the office so he can give his kids his full attention.

Sam decides that his new daily affirmation is: “I’m a loving father and am fully present for my kids. I save the best of me for my family.”

Imagine how much better you’ll feel when you start to take back control over your self talk and program in the messages that empower you and get you closer to the person you strive to be.

3. When you’re indecisive or afraid, talk to your fear.

Those same shame gremlins or mean girls inside of our heads feed off of fear. It’s like a good piece of gossip they can’t help but spread and exaggerate.

Luckily, when we write out how we’re feeling and what negative thoughts are spiraling, we can generally recognize when it’s actually just our fears talking.

You’re probably wondering how to tell if it’s fear talking or your intuition, right? This is where exploring your feelings comes into play.

Are you feeling powerless? Are you feeling anxious or sad? Everyone’s response to fear is different but it’s never a positive feeling.

If you’re at peace and calm but feel nudged that something isn’t right, that’s most-likely your intuition talking. But if you’re in a glass cage of negative emotions, you can bet fear is the culprit.

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Don’t hate on fear too much though. Our fears are just trying to protect us from something–the rub is they also usually keep us from something even better in the process.

I like to use journaling as a way to have a little talk with my fear, understand where it’s coming from and then decide if it’s worth listening to.

Here’s your journaling prompt for hashing it out with your fear:

Again, write down these questions in your journal one at a time and answer each one:

Ask your fear:

  • What are you trying to protect me from?

Once you answer that, ask:

  • What are you preventing me from having if I listen to you?

If the thing you really want is on the other side of your fear, then you know what you have to do next (luckily journals are a great place to make to-do lists as well)!

My last and favorite questions to ask fear is:

  • What’s the absolute worst-case scenario?

For example, let’s say you’re terrified of breaking ties with a client who is making your professional life miserable. You may answer this question with something like “My client blacklists me and smears ugly rumors about me all around town and not only do I lose one client but my entire business goes down.”

Eeesh. That does sound scary. Now ask yourself:

  • What are some steps I can take to ensure the worst case scenario doesn’t happen?

And then:

  • How likely is it that the worst-case scenario will actually happen (especially if I use the plan above)?

Maybe, when you think about it, the client is actually preventing you from bringing in new business because they’re taking up so much of your time.

And maybe that client doesn’t even have the best reputation so the chances of them being able to bring you down are pretty small.

What if you spent one hour a week for the next 3 weeks working on bringing in new business to replace the the income you make from that client, and figure out a way to end the contract in a very respectful, classy way to hopefully make the odds of them making a stink minimal?

Now you have a plan! But there’s one more question to ask yourself:

  • If the worst case scenario happened, what would you do?

Maybe you realize that if you really needed to, you could always go back to your previous job; they loved you and beg you to all the time. Or you could get by for a couple of months until you were able to bring in some more clients, especially if you cut back on expenses.

Once you stare your fear in the face, it magically loses its power. Left inside of your head, it can destroy you; but taking a few minutes to look at it and use it as a friend who’s showing you where you may need to implement a plan in order to protect yourself, you can take back the reins of your happiness and realize that fear really isn’t all that scary at all.

At this point, it needs to be said that journaling isn’t only good for getting out the nasty feelings, it’s also super useful for recording the good stuff of life which leads me to the fourth writing prompt.

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4. When you’re in a funk, focus on gratitude.

Just about any happiness book or article you read will tell you that being in a state of gratitude dramatically increases your happiness. For me, having a place to get down to the truth of my life and what’s actually going really well and what I’m grateful for helps put everything into perspective, especially when I’ve got a case of the blues.

Here are some of my favorite gratitude prompts to help get me out of a funk and focusing on the sunnier side of life.

Write down these questions in your journal one at a time and answer each one:

  • What is something good that happened today?
  • What made me laugh or smile today?
  • Who am I grateful for today?
  • What am I grateful for today?
  • With my “gratitude glasses” on, how do my problems or the funk I’m in look in relation to all of the good things I have in my life?

Take a look at this article too to learn more about keeping a gratitude journal: How a Gratitude Journal and Positive Affirmations Can Change Your Life

Shifting out of a funk and into gratitude shifts your energy out of “woe is me” and into “yay for me” which means, based on the Law of Attraction, you’ll begin to attract more of the things you want and less of what you don’t. Seriously, yay for you!

5. When you’re uninspired or bored with the status quo, let it flow.

One of the best and easiest ways to tap into your inspiration and feel a little bit of creative magic in your life is through stream of consciousness writing.

I dare you to put your pen on a blank page for 5 minutes and do nothing but make sure the pen doesn’t stop moving.

No thinking. No judgements. The only thing you’re not allowed to do is overthink or judge your writing. It’s all good. Everything that comes out is good (even if it’s total crap).

When I was in grad school, I took this awesome class on creativity and in it read a book called From Where you Dream by Robert Olen Butler. The book is mostly about fiction writing but essentially, he says that the best time to tap into your subconscious (where your “flow” lives) is when you first wake up in the morning. Since you’re fresh from dreaming, your brain is still tuned to that frequency, so to speak, and not clouded by “reality” from your day-to-day life.

So my last and final 5-minute journal prompt for you, uninspired one, is to wake up and let yourself keep dreaming on paper.

Here are your instructions:

  1. Set the timer for 5 minutes.
  2. Open your journal.
  3. Pick up your pen.
  4. Keep your pen moving until your timer stops.

What I love about this is it requires releasing all expectations and giving yourself creative freedom to let whatever needs to come out come out.

Become Happier in 5 Minutes (or Even Less)

Giving yourself a safe space to not expect anything other than to just show up and be honest is incredibly liberating.

In a world where there are endless things we are supposed to be doing, and ways in which we’re supposed to be doing them, I love showing up to a blank page with no requirements other than to just let my hand move.

It’s free and requires nothing from me other than just showing up wherever I am–talk about an endless source of grace!

Plus it gets my myriad thoughts out of my head and allows me to release them from my body, which research at top universities has shown can dramatically reduce stress.[1]

You don’t need to change EVERYTHING in your life all at once (it doesn’t work anyway, trust me, I’ve tried).

Start with giving yourself the gift of reflection in your journal every day and see how your life starts to change. I guarantee you’ll feel more connected with yourself in the process and over time everything in your life will start to be a better reflection of you and what you value.

And that, my friends, is the key to lasting happiness.

More Journaling Ideas

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Health Publishing: Writing about emotions may ease stress and trauma

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