I Was In A Serious Rut Until I Started Using These Techniques To Put My Life Back On Track

Unsplash / Lydia Harper
Unsplash / Lydia Harper

It’s not just your body. Or your relationship. Or your job.

It’s your soul that just doesn’t feel right.

As you pursued what you thought was the right thing, time kept whizzing past, like a semi whooshing your hair wildly while you sat helplessly on the side of the interstate with your hazards on. Trouble under the hood.

I wasted years not getting it together, not listening to my passion. I felt awkward, but I didn’t pick up on any options for whatever reason.

My closest role model had been my mom. A single mother, she just did what she could to support my sister and me. She never stopped to take a breath to ponder, “Now what gifts do I have to share with the world?” And she didn’t understand my want for creative expression, so I stuffed that firmly away, thinking, “I’ll get to that later.”

But my mom also modeled for me the danger of putting off self-expression. In her mid-50s, after she had finally raised us, she began to realize she wanted to be a writer. But because she’d treated her body so poorly for years, she died of a heart attack at the terribly young age of 56.

To not realize one’s full creative potential is the ultimate tragedy. For each of us, our uniqueness is what makes our life magical. We see, hear, and create like no other. To deny ourselves the practice of discovering new layers of this wonder is a profound insult to the soul.

But if you’re in a rut, that magic seems like a mirage. How do you get back to your youness?

It feels hopeless. But it’s not.

For some marvelous reason you stumbled on this article.

Within minutes you’re going to learn how to move beyond any dread-end, to never go back for long, if ever. (Let’s be realistic, you may go back a little, but this will help you get out of the next rut.)

Before we dive in, be prepared. There will be cursing, and for good reason. Profanity ignites places that the pretty phrases won’t touch. We are on a spelunking dive to unearth the dark recesses of your inhibitions, and, in my experience, a profane pick-axe does the trick perfectly.

Name the shithole.

That’s right. Vent. And just not the broad brush topical, “This whole thing sucks.” I mean cathartic unloading. You can do this! You’ve been carrying it around in your noggin for too long and it’s time to get it out of there and onto some paper. It’s imperative that the list be exhaustive. Nothing else to vomit. Spent. You must write down at least six things.

Let’s look at a crappy job as an example. Many of us sell out for income that is firmly distinct from what felt like practicing our gifts. I know I did.

My job sucks because:
1. There’s not a shred of creativity.
2. My office building decor smacks of post-communist Russia. Meh colored dingy, stain-speckled carpet that was at newness still puke beige.
3. People are in emotional lockdown like the walking dead. Their spines slump over caved-in chests, downcast eyes, shuffling down fluorescent-lit hallways in drab, dumpy clothes.

When you’ve spewed all the vile, it’s time to switch to some sunshine.

Name the shimmer.

If you’re breathing, something’s working, right? Silver lining and all.

Write out the sunnier sides, no matter how small. What is it that makes you dress and chug coffee in the morning so you don’t show up at work naked with drool dried on your cheek? List every little nuanced detail.


Because this is the glue that binds you to the shithole. To sever the connection, you gotta name the sticky stuff. Every last elastic, phlegmy blob. Yes, at least six. Using the job example:

The good things about my job:
1. I can see some subtle luminescence of potential at this place. And that’s what hurts so much.
2. The people who work here really know their stuff.
3. Some folks are fun and I like their lively, vicious, dark humor.
4. Out of necessity my intuition about something being wrong and doing the right thing next is being honed to scythe’s edge before harvest.
5. The money is decent and I don’t think I’ll make more anywhere else.
6. …

Have you really gotten it all? Staying with the workplace exemplar: What about that guy/girl who struts around and is just damn sexy? You don’t even know his/her name, but s/he just does it for you. Is hunk/ette on the list? Fantasies at work make time at the office less painful. Get it alllllll out.

Whew, that feels lighter doesn’t it? Great work! You’ve cleared at least twelve points of the inner gunk, now it’s time to move into the what-ifs.

Name the worst stay-the-same scenario.

This ain’t the glue that keeps you bound. This is the rot that will happen to your core if you stay stuck in the muck. Something like this, only, yes, at least six (you’re catching on).

If things stay the same at my job:
1. My brain will ooze out my ears and I will become a vegetable.
2. I’ll keep eating comfort food and my ass will grow to a spread so wide, I’ll need railing on the sides of my chair to hold my jello butt.
3. I will respect myself less and less each day until I’m too worn out to do anything about it, and then I’ll die.
4. I will get hit by a bus and never know if I could have changed things by just being me, even at work.
5. My kids will grow up without an example of how to thrive everywhere.
6. …

Name the worst change-it-up scenario.

Lots of people go to severe doomsday scenarios, but that’s not the realistic worst case scenario. You’re you. You got this gig, you’ll get something else going.

So looking at the work example, what is the worst that would happen if you changed up your game? Sure you could quit, that’s always an option. Or you could stay and start doing your real calling there and after work and see how your life unfolds as you pay attention to what you naturally do.

So what could you do to get the natural-you-ball rolling? You could go for something as subtle as deciding to bring your unique gifts to work instead of just checking out on your own sparkle. You let out your art at home, with your friends, what if you brought you everywhere? Here’s a starter.

Worst case if I started expressing my talents at work.
1. Management would let me know that they weren’t cool with it.
2. I’d be shunned by conservative co-workers.
3. Then I’d look for a new job and not find one fast enough that paid enough, and so then I’d make less than I do now.
4. I’d still eke out a living.
5. I’d still have my friends.
6. I’d still eat healthy, but I’d go on a diet to save grocery money.
7. My kids would see me being true to myself.
8. I’d encourage my kids to stay true their talents like never before.
9. I’d get in shape because pushups, sit-ups, and wrestling with my kids are free.

Choose to rut or roll.

Spoiler alert: there’s really no choice. The stay-same scenarios are atrocious.

Besides, you were doomed to change anyway because, you poor thing, you’ve got the squirms. And it’s way more severe than the fever for more cowbell.

Also (I hope you’re able to still respect me after this existentialist theory), it is my firm belief that we are in a symbiotic universe. So, if you are feeling a soul discomfort, it’s because the world is calling for your talents. There is an opening and you are being called to fill it.

Now this “there is a reason” philosophy has been rationalized by some behavioral scientists as survival mechanism to keep us efforting in hard times.

However I, and many others, respectfully disagree. We have witnessed way too many crazy coincidences when we finally follow our bliss, and then watch, with jaw dropped, as everything elegantly lines up.

You are about to be in a corridor of coincidence.

The shift.

So when you look at it that way, it’s a no-duh to make the next move.

With at least 24 self made reasons to support you, open your arms and embrace your glorious gift.

You now have a Case of the FuckIts.

FuckIt in action.

At every, “well, I really shouldn’t”, grab a bottle of FuckIt and stay with the program—chug-a-lug! You have to embrace being you, even when you think it’s not welcome.

Here’s the best part, you now get to create your new reality. To use the work example again, what are all the little things you could do to be more you at work?

Unlike before, you don’t need to be exhaustive, because this is open-ended. List enough items to make you smile at the potential.

Here are some examples for different talents getting full play at work:

Music Lover—Start chatting up folks about their band faves and offer to swap playlists. Play low decibel music at your area to start a conversation. Display some concert paraphernalia or wear a t-shirt on a casual day.

Visual Arts—Put screenshots of pictures in emails. Write doodles on post-its you leave for folks. Bring in your work and put it around your area. Offer to design invites to work events.

Interior Designer—Dress up that workspace. You’ve got some kitsch you can bring. An area rug you could purchase and place (cheapies have low pile so chairs roll more easily on them).

Chef—Everyone loves freshly made goodies. And not just cookies, how about home-made spreads on your baked crackers. Or dollops of fried dough stuffed with deliciousness that can easily be popped in the mouth by a visiting workmate.

Prep for results.

Oh, it WILL happen. Your ways are contagious, because everyone wants what you’re running. You’re pursuing you at a high wattage. How many of those are around? You are now a guiding spark in the world, an inspiration.

Back to the work sample, everyone wants to connect, see that others care about them and show how much they care. It’s like the song, What a Wonderful World: “I see friends shaking hands, saying, ‘how do you do?’ But really what they’re saying is, ‘I love you.’ ”

Get ready for visitors at your desk, for departments to work more easily with you, and for you to be less stressed after a day at the office.

When I brought my Case of FuckIts to work once, I got three new pieces of biz in one day. My desk started to grow and biz spilled over into billables for support staff.

From experience, I’d say you can count on your soul being so invigorated that opportunities, unimaginable at the start, will be popping up. In the case of the job, you may even find yourself with a new professional opportunity, like a raise/promotion, transfer to new department, or new career altogether.

Further, you can bank on more energy to steer your life in a new direction outside of the workday, too.

Really, once you start listening, you’re going to be back on that interstate with your hair blowing wildly.

Only this time, you’re in a convertible singing at the top of your lungs with your music blasting.

And it’s all because you prepped for a refreshment that starts off with a snap and has a clean finish. And now that you’ve got a Case, feel free to pass ‘em around.

People are thirsty. Thought Catalog Logo Mark 

I have a favorite tree, on the top of a hill, I call grampa.

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