Have you ever considered that you might be living in a bubble?
You know, like the one in The Truman Show.
This time around, though, you created the bubble yourself.
This is your reality.
All your beliefs, your biases, and your prejudicess
Objective reality, i.e. what is, doesn't enter your brain anymore untouched. It is, in fact, cropped, resized, torn apart and repainted by the filters of your own reality so that it fits the criteria you have been creating for yourself all the time.
This is not good or bad per se. In fact, look at Steve Jobs with his 'reality distortion field'. He had such a strong reality that could bend other people's and achieve whatever he wanted.
Many entrepreneurs and successful people have indeed a framework through which they process the world that is completely different from that of the average Joe. For instance, seeing an obstacle as an opportunity is something that only successful people can do.
On the other hand of the spectrum, you have people trapped in their own negative reality. And this might be you.
And by negative, I don't mean a reality that is consisting only of complaints, nagging and negative thoughts. I also mean a reality that is negative to the outcome you want to achieve.
You are stuck.
You think you are going somewhere, going to achieve your goal and yet you are always at the same point. Completely stuck and disillusioned.
Sitting on a train stopped at the station while a passing train next to it gives you the impression YOU are the one moving.
The illusion of moving.
This is sad as a great potential is wasted and nothing is ever achieved.
I have some suggestions to overcome being stuck in your own delusional reality.
#1: Awareness, Not Just A Hippie Thing
If there is one tip you must take away from this post is this one.
I would never stress enough how fundamental self-awareness is for your personal growth. Yet, it might be the most difficult thing to achieve given that we are stuck in our own mind in the first place.
A good place to start is meditation.
You can pick any technique you want, it doesn't matter, the results will be the same.
You can try mindfulness (put your awareness on your breath), transcendental meditation (repeat a mantra - whatever word that doesn't make any sense - to kinda hypnotize yourself), stoic meditation (eyes open and sit repeat internally "I'm aware of..." and feel in with whatever you are aware of at that very moment).
By meditating you will "see" your brain thinking and spitting out thoughts, ideas, worries, judgments. You don't have to stop them, just notice.
This is the whole point of the exercise, becoming aware of your own thinking process.
This is something that requires discipline. You have to do it every single day.
I do any form of the above-mentioned techniques for 15 minutes every morning.
Why Is This Useful
By doing this constantly, you'll train the "muscle" of awareness.
This will become active outside the meditation and you will be able to catch yourself at moments and situations when thoughts and judgments are being formed.
You'll have a "behind the scenes" look at your own thinking mind. This will prevent you to react instinctively to anything that happens or is thrown at you.
Someone makes a bad joke loudly about you in a social situation.
Angry old you: "how dare you, you son of a bitch I'm gonna fucking kill you blah blah blah" - you screamed all red faced
or maybe you are the silent/shy kind of person who doesn't say anything but internal plots a very bloody revenge.
Self-aware new you: "hahaha that was funny" - you laugh relaxed about it.
Because you realize that it was a joke, even if meant with malignity, it was meant to get a reaction out of you and your non-reactivity pisses your arch-enemy even more!
Try it next time and you'll tell me about it!
#2: Go Beyond Your Perceptions
As mentioned in the introduction, your mind is filtering reality through its own glasses. This will give it a color which is what defines your reality.
Having become more self-aware, you'll become aware of this very process of filtering the reality through your own faulty models.
This will entail that you will be able to see the reality, naked, for what it is. No judgment, adornment, and distortion. Just facts.
Remember: you can control your judgments and opinions but you cannot control facts. This is one of the basic core ideas of the Stoic philosophy.
Why Is This Useful
Before being upset or overly excited about something, analyze the situation for what it actually is. What do you see in front of you? Is what you see really true or is your mind trying to sabotage you?
The old you would think that you are a failure and you can't manage to get stronger.
The new self-aware you will see this for what it is: you missed a rep or two in the squat.
The new you doesn't add any color to it, he doesn't react. Instead, he defines a new plan of action on how to tackle the situation. This is going beyond perceptions.
To learn more about this point, I recommend you this book.
#3: Stop And Reflect On Your Goal
Are you actually moving?
Remember the example of the train.
Now that you became more self-aware and know how to discriminate between reality and your perception of it, it's time to test whether your assumptions, which make the basis of your reality, are valid.
If you are a sane person, you expect that the course of your actions will bring you from situation A to situation B (goal).
Nobody does things just for the sake of it.
(unless we are talking about
Set aside some time to sit and reflect on your journey.
Are your actions bringing you a little bit forward, every day, towards your goal?
If you continue doing what you are doing today, will you get there in the future (near or distant depending on the gravity of your goal)?
"What gets measured gets managed" — Peter Drucker
Track your results and make time to analyze them.
This was one of my biggest mistakes in the past I admit it (and still sometimes keep doing). I was just doing and doing and doing without actually seeing if results were coming.
Action is not an alibi for lack of results.
Every action should bring a change either positive or negative. Neutral results mean you are not moving and your actions are a pointless waste of energy.
Why Is This Useful
By checking if you are progressing towards your goal you will be able to test whether your framework of reality is valid or needs some tweaking. The basis for a healthy self-development.
It has been 1 year that you are doing the same routine in the gym. You still look the same.
If you didn't have the expected outcome already, it's time to change program. Persistence is a good thing but persisting on something that doesn't work is just dumb.
Have a measurable unit that defines your progress (e.g. squat 1RM, body weight, body fat%) and track it over time. If your unit is not changing or is going in the opposite direction it's time to admit you were wrong and change course of action.
You might be stuck in some parts of your life and have no idea in the first place that you actually are.
Stagnation is the happy place where all the wannabes feel comfortable thinking they are "working on it".
Progress happens when you push through to get outside of it.
We saw that to get past stagnation you need to 1) become aware of it, 2) become aware of your own 'reality distortion field', 3) make time to track and analyze your progress.
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Let me know in the comments below: how do you get unstuck?