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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

Feeling Out of Place in Life? 5 Ways to Get Back on Track

Feeling Out of Place in Life? 5 Ways to Get Back on Track

If you have ever felt like a square peg being shoved into a round hole, then you know what feeling out of place is. You experience an overall lack of alignment—the feeling that you are actively wasting time, energy, and resources can be almost paralyzing.

I know this because I’ve experienced it first-hand—the anxiety, self-doubt, and worry that takes over, the way your mind can be suddenly flooded with negative thoughts and the curiosities about what could have been if you had made other choices. 

Recognizing that you feel out of place can be scary, but like everything in life, it doesn’t have to be permanent.

Here are 5 steps you can take when you are feeling out of place.

1. Acknowledge That Your Feelings Are Trying to Communicate Something IMPORTANT to You

As a Spiritual Advisor, Yogi, and Coach, I’ve spent a lot of time studying the different ways that humans receive messages. Some people can pick up on the subtle and quiet messages whispered to them by the universe, while others have to be virtually bopped over the head with the information.

In the latter circumstance, the Universe will make sure the message is amplified until it cannot be ignored. You may feel conflicted about what your feeling.

For example:

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You may have a stable job that you are good at but still feel off track and unsatisfied. You feel lost but it’s difficult for you to acknowledge that you are unhappy at your work and perhaps, you need to explore other options to feel fulfilled.  

OR

You are in a relationship that is unhealthy or toxic. But you are more afraid of being alone and having to put yourself out there, so admitting that you need to separate from that person is too difficult.

These realizations may be difficult and can take time. Release any embarrassment or shame you have around your confusion or fear. Humans are creatures of comfort.

It is not abnormal to experience some internal resistance when you realize that what your spirit wants and what is comfortable at the moment are out of alignment.

Recognizing that you feel off track is an important first step to getting back on track. It requires bravery and honesty to acknowledge that you may feel lost or confused. Give yourself credit for taking this incredibly important first step. 

2. Take Time to Meditate on When You Started to Feel Out of Place or Off Track

Everything has a root, a cause, a starting point. If you are going to be able to move forward, it’s important to know where you are moving forward from.

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Journaling is an incredibly helpful tool when used strategically. I’m not referring to the common and cathartic freewriting you usually associate with journaling, but instead, “prompt journaling.

Prompt Journaling allows you to direct your attention very efficiently as you explore some questions.

Here are some prompts to get you started:

  • I feel safe when…
  • The last time I felt confident was…
  • I want to feel…
  • I deserve…
  • I am worthy of…
  • I noticed a change in myself when…
  • The activities that make me feel good are…
  • I feel joyful when…
  • I feel full of life when…
  • I enjoy…
  • Write a letter to yourself a year from now.
  • Write a letter to yourself 2 years ago.

Studies have shown that journaling can help manage anxiety and reduce stress because it gives you a healthy way to express yourself when faced with overwhelming emotions.

The act of physically writing helps you to get clarity by giving you space to prioritize your fears or concerns and providing an opportunity for positive self-talk as well as a judgment-free zone to recognize negative thoughts and behaviors.[1]

3. Check in With Your Support System

Support systems are essential in helping you identify how, when, and why you got off track in the first place. Sometimes, it can be helpful to have an objective and external source to help you process some of the things you are discovering and realizing about yourself. It can be a lot.

Consider talking to your trusted friends and close family or people who you feel safe talking to and know will be objective yet honest with you.

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The goal is to enlist the help of someone who can help you acknowledge the things that you may be avoiding. In some cases, it is best to do this with a trusted professional, such as a therapist.

In other cases, what you need is someone to help you organize your thoughts and create an action plan. In that case, you might enlist the help of a reputable coach or experienced mentor.

Having a support system that will hold you accountable and create space for you to go through the process is critical to you getting back on track. This will greatly reduce the negativity of feeling out of place.

4. Be Grateful

Gratitude is a balm for the soul. It can be the thing that gives us respite from the troubles of the mind and worries of the heart.

When we practice gratitude, the alchemy that happens in the brain is incredible. Studies show that spending time focusing on the things that one is grateful for can lead to increased optimism, feeling better about one’s life, organic desire to exercise, and reduced doctor’s visits.[2]

Let me be clear. Gratitude is not about ignoring what is bothering you or sweeping things under the rug. Instead, gratitude asks you to become innately aware of the world around you and your current experience so that you can identify anything—no matter how small—that you feel grateful for.

It can be as simple as a sunny day, a delicious tangerine, water, or waking up. The thing you express gratitude for doesn’t need to be magnanimous. It can be simple, small, and unique to your experience. The goal is for you to reorient your thinking so that you can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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5. Visualize Where You Want to Be

Once you have taken time to acknowledge how you feel, get curious about when it started, check in with your support system, and be grateful, the only thing left to do is to start to visualize where you want to be.

There is no point in doing all this work if you don’t know where you want to go from here. Get bold, dream big. Think (or journal) about where you want to be in a 1 month, 6 months, a year.

Draw how you want your life to look. Create a vision board. There are a lot of different ways you can give your vision life. 

The reason we want to externalize these ideas is to give us something to easily refer back to when we get overwhelmed. At the moment, it is easy to forget what we are doing and why we are doing it. When you have access to an external representation of your goal. it is easier to have it anchor you when things get rough.

When you have a clear vision, it is easier to create a plan of action. Ultimately, that plan of action will help you take the action necessary to help you get back on track.

Final Thoughts

There is no shortcut to getting back on track when you feel out of place in life. You have to take a hard look at yourself and get really curious about what lead to these feelings.

You have to want to shift your focus and truly desire to reconnect with yourself.  There must be a willingness to do the work. You have to believe that YOU DESERVE peace, happiness, satisfaction, joy—otherwise, visioning the life you want will be impossible.

Feeling off track is not the end of the world. In fact, it is more of a right-of-passage. Remember that it is not permanent, and the process can be sped up if you are proactive. You can do this!

Read These If You’re Feeling Out of Place

Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] URMC: Journaling for Mental Health
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: Giving thanks can make you happier

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Awilda Rivera

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Last Updated on January 21, 2021

8 Creative Ways To Motivate Yourself To Reach Goals

8 Creative Ways To Motivate Yourself To Reach Goals

“Self-pity is our worst enemy, and if we yield to it we can never do anything wise in this world” – Helen Keller

From the moment our kindergarten teachers asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up to the job interview question that asks us to envision where we see ourselves in five or ten years time, everyone seems to want to know what we’re doing (or hope to do) with our lives. Some of us have detailed road maps in our minds, with mile-markers for each goal: Obtain a college degree, land a dream career, start a family, visit Mars, achieve world domination—whatever. Others like the scenic route. We have a vague picture of someone in the distant future who looks like us and is doing amazing things, but they’re too far off in the distance for us to see just what those amazing things are. Whether you’ve had your entire life planned out since you were 5 yrs old or are just winging it, we all need a jump start from time to time to keep us moving in the right direction—or any direction. Here are eight creative ways to motivate yourself to reach your goals.

1. Sing to yourself

Seriously. Like laughter, sunshine, and fresh air; singing elevates our moods and increases our well being. It can even be a useful group exercise to enhance collaboration in the workplace. Read more about it here. Studies have shown that singing triggers a release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural way of chemically relieving pain and stress. When we’re happier, we get more done. This might be why Snow White likes to whistle while she works.

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2. Visualize your success

According to Dr. Frank Niles, visualization is a simple but useful motivational technique because when you form a picture of succeeding in your mind, you begin to see the possibility of reaching your goal. When I was working on my dissertation in graduate school, there were days when meeting the daily writing goal I’d set for myself seemed insurmountable, let alone finishing the entire book-length project that sat in my stomach like a baby with an unknown due date. When I began to feel overwhelmed, I’d often visualize the moment of achievement, walking across the stage, receiving my degree, finally earning those three letters at the end of my name that I’d poured so much blood, sweat, tears, and vodka into. Six years and quite a few drinks later, I managed it.

3. Speak about achieving your goals in definitive, positive terms

Instead of saying, “if I get married,” “if I get that raise,” “if I quit smoking,” say “when I get married,” “when I get that raise,” “when I quit smoking.” This shifts your focus from possibility to actuality. Spiritual teacher and best-selling author Dr. Wayne Dyer has written and spoken extensively about the “I Am” discourse, which is a form of positive thinking that takes its name from Judeo-Christian Scripture but is portable in any walk of life. Dyer tells us humorously that God didn’t introduce himself to Moses as “I will be,” or “My name is I hope things will work out.” No. He said simply “I am.” Using this affirmative vocabulary in our own lives, argues Dr. Dyer, can help us to visualize our goals and keep our eye on the prize.

4. Use sticker charts

We all remember the thrill of achievement when we rushed home from school to show our parents the shiny gold star we’d received on our homework assignments in school. Who’s to say this positive reinforcement can’t work for adults too? Draw up a chart of your goals, with various benchmarks. Each time you achieve a benchmark, give yourself a gold star, or a smiley face, or a googly-eyed cat. Whatever gives you a sense of accomplishment. This ties into the visualization technique as well, because charting the trajectory of completion gives you verifiable proof that you’re making progress.

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5. Keep a goal diary

Like creating a chart with eye-catching visuals, writing down your goals and reflecting regularly on their progress helps you to both focus on the desired outcome and holds you accountable. In 1979, a study conducted in the Harvard MBA program asked students if they had goals and if they’d written down those goals. 3% had written down their goals, 13% had goals but hadn’t written them down, and 84% had no clearly defined goals. Ten years later, the study revealed that the 3% who had written down their goals were the most financially successful. While financial stability is only one quantifiable way to measure success, the study still points to a link between clearly defining one’s goals and achieving them.

6. Find a “study buddy”

While this can be a useful way to motivate students to complete homework, it can also work well for anyone who has a hard time settling down to work. I used to notice that I graded papers much more efficiently when my boyfriend was sitting in the other room doing the same thing. While this might not work for everyone, I’ve always found that glancing up now and then to make a comment about something I’ve read does more than allow for a break in the action. The other person becomes a sounding board to bounce my ideas off of. Even Sherlock Holmes relied on Watson’s insights to solve his cases.

7. Keep a corkboard in your workspace or someplace visible, with empowering quotations

Personally, I find Yoda a great inspiration. It’s hard to quit anything when you’ve got “do or do not. There is no try” staring you in the face. Turn to your favorite books and movies, or your role-models. Pick your favorite inspirational quotes and keep them close to remind you that you can do whatever you set your mind to.

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8. Daydream

It might sound counter-intuitive, but I’m going somewhere with this. You probably remember being told off in Biology class for staring into the fathomless blue eyes of your lab partner instead of concentrating on the frog you were supposed to be dissecting. However, according to Margrit Tarpalaru, there’s a way to procrastinate “consciously, creatively, and, most importantly, guiltlessly.”

Tarpalaru, a teacher who uses this technique to plow through grading, refers to it as the “micro-break,”[1] which many of us probably think of as that reflexive urge to check Facebook for five minutes, only to look up twenty minutes later and wonder how we got sucked into the social media vortex. Instead, Tarpalaru suggests techniques like a quick daydream.

Glance up from the computer screen and spend a few minutes thinking about all of the glorious things that await you once you’ve gotten through the day, or the week: biking with your partner, having drinks with friends, the summer cruise you’re planning.

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Like the other visualization techniques we’ve talked about, this practice keeps your eye on the prize, and it’s a conscious form of procrastination because you can’t have that drink, or board that cruise ship unless you meet that deadline, which inevitably forces your mind back on work.

Featured photo credit: Becca Tapert via unsplash.com

Reference

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