Recently a friend of mine was out grabbing lunch and decided to take a quick short-cut between two businesses. It involved driving her small car down a dirt road. Initially, she thought she could make it because the road looked firm enough. But once she reached the place where the road met the parking lot pavement, the car tires got stuck in the muddy ruts at the end of the road. What started out as a time-saving measure quickly turned into a messy ordeal that took over an hour to resolve.
Haven’t we all done that???
I think most people can relate to being stuck in romantic relationships, jobs, friendships, bad habits, and/or lifelong patterns. We’ve all been there. Something that starts out as exciting and great can become dull and boring after awhile. Perhaps it’s because we simply lose interest. Or maybe it’s because we viewed it through rose-colored glasses and didn’t see the pitfalls. Maybe we ignored the warning signs of trouble ahead. Sometimes things change so gradually that we get accustomed to the ‘new normal’ and don’t notice how different it is until things are so bad we can’t ignore it any longer. We’re stuck in the mud.
So how do you get un-stuck?
Make a change. This suggestion reminds me of the Michael Jackson song “Man in the Mirror” where he sings ‘I’m starting with the man in the mirror/I’m asking him to change his ways…’ I remind my clients all the time that the only person we have the power to change is ourselves. So change up your routine. Start small if that sounds intimidating. Take a different route to work. Order a coffee you’ve never had before. Try a yoga class instead of kickboxing. Eat Mexican instead of Chinese. No, eating a taco instead of an egg roll won’t make your life amazingly better (if it does, tell me where you found that taco!). But it will be different– and isn’t that what you’re going for here?
Ask for advice. Talk to a trusted friend or family member, and ask what they honestly think about your situation. If you don’t have someone you feel comfortable asking, then make an appointment with a therapist. We’re trained to be objective, and we don’t have the same vested interest in your life as a friend/family member might. A therapist won’t necessarily tell you what to do. But sometimes getting an ‘outsider’s perspective’ on a situation can help you see it from a different angle.
Set a goal. Identify what you want to be different, and then create a plan to slowly work your way towards meeting the goal. For example, let’s say you’d like to have more friends (that’s the goal). You might start by looking through a local events calendar to find things that are interesting to you– concerts, art exhibits, festivals, social meetup groups, hiking club, etc. Then you decide to attend one of those events a week (creating the plan). You might make a pact with yourself that you’ll talk to at least one person at each event in the spirit of trying to get to know more people. After awhile, you’ll have more friends as a result of your efforts (goal met).
So the next time you embark on a journey down a dirt road and get stuck in the mud, don’t worry. We’ve all been there. Tow trucks are only a phone call away. The mud will wash off, and the car will still run. So take the opportunity to see it as a learning experience!
Music therapy can be extremely beneficial in helping you break lifelong patterns and/or see things from a different angle. So if you’re curious about how music therapy and GIM might help you get un-stuck, I’m always available to answer your questions!