There have been times in my life when no saying was ever truer than the title of this article. It’s not a spot I can say I’m satisfied to be in, nor does it contribute to my general happiness. So why am I there—wanting to do something but unable to do it? Because I’m torn between two competing messages in my self-talk….you know, that chatter in your head you use to build yourself up or sometimes completely denigrate yourself? Here’s how to determine whether it’s time to go for it or get off the metaphorical toilet and focus on something else.
If ever there were a time for clarity, it’s in one of these situations—and from my experience, getting clear is the only way out. Staying in this situation requires me to either:
A. Ignore some of the data to allow myself to lower stress levels (by convincing myself that getting off the pot is not such a bad idea after all)
B. How do you get clear when you want to do something but just can’t?
All the stress—the tug and pull between action and inaction—is Knower/Judger generated. It’s caused by the fact that there’s a rule you have to break to get what you want.
Let me say that again:
There’s a rule you have to break to get what you want.
Shitting requires me to abandon a cultural comfort zone I’ve built for myself. Say I’m a person who doesn’t like taking risks and I’m faced with trying to decide whether to sell my house and move to Seattle for a potentially risky but highly rewarding job. My comfort zone sends the message “don’t go” and rationalizes how good I’ve got it here. But what I want is the results of the move…argh!
The data is clear. I can stay comfortably here (in my low-risk set of K/J rules)—i.e., get off the pot. Back out. Don’t execute. Or I can “let it go” and take the risk to acquire what I really want (knowledge about what I really want resides in my rational, decision-making Learner/Researcher self).
So it’s the metaphor of the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. The emotional side of me (comfort zone) sits on one shoulder and the rational side (risk/reward) on the other.
The big challenge seems to be that the obvious stress reducer is to back off and convince myself that this change is too risky—get off that pot. I will follow my “rule.” Ah, the peace and quiet of my self-talk.
Until my L/R kicks back in and tells me I’m blowing it. Then I’m right back in my dilemma.
So what data am I missing? It’s that part about what I really want.
Want trumps [sic] rules.
Here’s my rule of thumb:
If I don’t want an outcome enough to violate my rule, then I go with the rule and stop ruminating about the want (not italicized on purpose). I get off the pot.
But if the want (again an L/R function) is strong enough, then I abate the rule and charge ahead. I shit!
What kind of rules hold me back? Rules about risk. Rules about my self-worth. Rules about change. Rules about money. Rules about what I deserve. Rules about relationships. There are a gazillion rules that enter my self-talk and keep me in my comfort zone. And they often allow, and sometimes require, me to get off the pot—to bail on my dreams and aspirations.
If the want comes back, then it might be big enough to go through the exercise again.
Here’s a caveat. I never actually got anything done or made much progress by getting off the pot. To get anywhere or accomplish anything, I had to shit.
Maybe I need to rewrite some of my rules.