Break Out of a Rut

Dear Claudia,

How do you break out of a rut? I don’t have money for therapy.

Mother of three

Dear Mom,

Look it’s very simple really: to break out of a rut, just do something new. There you go – that’s all there is to it — saved you thousands.

The only problem you are really going to have with this advice, it that little part of your brain that really resents you saying you’re in a rut, and objects mightily to the notion that you need any kind of life-altering overhaul.

This part of your brain is going to look at your magnanimous efforts to break out of a rut and say “HEY! I take offense at this! There’s nothing wrong here! Leave me the heck alone! I’m fine the way I am. I’m too tired, overworked, stressed, lazy, and unwilling, so please, please, give up this ridiculous effort.”

Other than this stubborn, defiant, resentful, depressed and defensive part of your brain, you should have no problem.

One thing you can always try doing, depending on how much control over you this little part of your brain has, is tricking it. Try to slip things in without labeling them, in any way shape or form “get-out-of-a-rut-maneuvers.” For example, put on new item on your grocery list called NEW BREAKFAST DRINK. Then drink it. Already, you have gotten out of a rut. In fact, write it on your calendar, even ‘JUNE 2, 2006, CHANGED BREAKFAST DRINK”

Once you have broken out of the breakfast rut, pick another. Like exercise, my personal favorite. Do 10 jumping jacks. Once again, write it on the old calendar. ‘JULY 1, 2006, EXERCISED.”

Now, the fact that a drink or eight seconds of movement does not seem like much to you, is not important. What is important is that you have, in only seconds, broken out of two potentially major ruts. In fact, stop calling them “ruts”. Call the breakfast rut NEW BREAKFAST DRINK and call the exercise rut SURPRISE JUMPING or something. However you do it, the idea is to try to trick your brain. Whatever you do, try to prevent yourself from doing something labeled “CHANGE MY LIFE.” Your brain won’t like that.

So you see, it’s really quite simple. Just do it! 

Why is something so simple also so elusive sometimes? Well, there are a number of things that get in the way of trying new things. One of them is simply habit. Trying new things is a stretch. We either have to be willing to leave our comfort zone, or look forward with pleasure to the new experience.

Sometimes, a conflict can interfere with trying new things. We want to expand our horizons, but an opposing force stands in the way. Like demanding children or finances.

Depression can also be a habit of thinking that gets in the way of trying new things. It prevents hope from blossoming into possibility and puts a damper on every nice idea. If it’s not a habit of thinking, depression is a result of being too overwhelmed to do much more than simply survive.

So really, getting out of a rut involves dealing with whatever might be standing in your way of trying something new. How do you do that?

There are many different ways of dealing with stifling thoughts and ideas that keep you from trying new things. One is to take some medication. More and more people are trying medication, which does give them the experience of feeling different. 

Another method is by going to a therapist. A good therapist can help you become what you want to become without pressure. Some therapists work with the body. They recommend learning how to tune in to your body, meditate and manage your feelings in the physical realm. Other therapists use music, art, nutrition or other mediums that can help people greatly.

So try doing something new. If you can’t, try calling someone who might be able to help you. If you can’t do that, trust that maybe, you will hit rock bottom in your hopelessness and boredom with life. Usually, at that time, people find the motivation to try something new not because they feel they should feel better, but because they can no longer stand to feel so bad. I hope this isn’t true for you, but if it is, I hope that you, like many others who lost their desire to live, find at that moment that they’re dying to try something new.

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