Life-paralysis, what is that? Well, it's a phrase to describe a state of being in which you cannot move forward in the direction of your goals. This momentary seizure can be caused by many factors such as indecision, lack of confidence, or fear. I have, unfortunately, found myself becalmed in the waters of my ambition more times than I care to admit. Thankfully, with all the times I've found myself adrift, I'm also improving in identifying those moments and reanimating myself towards a purpose.
I think I've mentioned before that my Myers-Briggs personality is ENFP and, though my therapist brother-in-law tells me personality quizzes, in general, are simply a way for humans to create patterns out of chaos, the write up for ENFP does coincide with many "patterns" that I see in my character. According to a free Myers-Briggs quiz, 16pesonalities.com, the ENFP nickname is "The Campaigner." What that nickname fails to reveal is that as energetic and enthusiastic I can be for my creative projects, I can often get trapped in the pitfall of indecision or lack of focus. There are so many wonderful things to campaign and feel passion for - how do I choose just one!?
Fear has also reared its ugly head to freeze me in neither fight nor flight; perhaps it's my subconscious "playing dead" when the bear of the future lumbers through my forest of dreams. When the weight of my goals sits heavily upon my chest, it seems easier to ignore the asphyxiation by distracting myself with countless cat videos, Instagram food, or my Facebook page, ultimately feeding the beast rather than taming it.
Lack of confidence has also proved a shackle a time or two. My reoccurring thought, which I had even before writing this post, is "who am I to offer advice?". Some people refer to this as "impostor syndrome" although I don't feel as though I'm an impostor; rather my concern is that I will bore someone to death or contribute ideas that don't help anyone.
Whew, I know its sounds rough, but all is not lost! As mentioned above, the common occurrence of my temporary life paralysis has resulted in a silver lining. I am now increasingly adept in overcoming these pitfalls and did convince myself that I had something useful to offer you, fair reader. So, without further ado, these are the methods I've found helpful in overcoming life-paralysis.
1. Be honest with yourself. This solution is probably the toughest because you have to come clean with why you are stuck. For example, I'd been allowing myself to "check out" by reading books for pleasure rather than spending time working towards my goals. Partly the reading had become a habit, but the other part was indecision. I couldn't decide where to direct my efforts, so I directed them nowhere. I had to fess up to myself when I realized the books I was reading were drek. Talking about life-paralysis to my sister and husband also helped, so I recommend finding a sounding board for your honest revelations. They can ground you while you face the fear.
2. Do something for five minutes that you can take pride in - even if it's just a "jobs done" satisfaction. This tactic is especially effective if you are struggling with the self-confidence. It's amazing how ticking off a few "to-dos" can make you feel accomplished. The other day I spent an afternoon taking donations to Goodwill, weeding my front garden, and getting my spare tire re-inflated for an upcoming road trip. Each task had been on my to-do list for a while, and they all took less than an hour each. It was so satisfying by the end of the day to have so many long-standing items ticked off. I'm sure I had a grin the rest of the evening.
3. Step away from the phone/laptop/kindle. I know, I know. We hear this one so often it's annoying. I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with being dialed in 24/7, but when you are trying to reanimate your purpose, the best thing to do is disconnect. How can you know your mind if you are continuously consuming other people's thoughts and ideas? We have so much more to offer than the consumption of goods and services, but you need to give your brain some time to form your own thoughts.
I'm happy to report that these methods have revived me from my latest bout and I hope they serve you well too!
Let me know, was this post helpful? Am I the only one who suffers from life-paralysis? Feel free to comment or let me know on twitter!