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Sometimes, we feel stuck, like we're not growing or making progress. We feel as though we are in a holding pattern, waiting for the next thing to kick start our lives.
This occurs in the context of a society that seems to value constant quantitative growth. Everyone seems to want to increase their incomes, add more clients, boost their social media numbers, maximize all their “Likes.”
When we hit a flat spot, we might feel disturbed or anxious. We don’t know what to do. We may flail about like a fish on a deck of a boat hoping the jarring motion incites some insight as to our next step be it a career, personal, spiritual front, or any combination thereof.
I like to say that when this happens. WE ARE ON A PLATEAU. And a PLATEAU doesn’t have to be such a bad place. I emphasize that on a PLATEAU, you can look back to see where you have been and you can look forward to see where you might go. The point is to not totally resist being on the plateau; realizing that being where you are is okay. It can serve you.
To be clear, a plateau is not clinical depression, whereby we may totally lose interest in key components of our life, and feel quick-sand stuck. For that, professional help should be sought.
On a plateau, the feeling is more that we are not operating at our full potential; that we may be on the precipice of taking a step towards some aspect of our true path or life’s mission without really knowing where we might end up.
So what do we do on a plateau?
1. As mentioned, we want to embrace it and not resist it. We can even find some joy in trusting that plateaus often precede some type of personal growth.
2. We need to be in an information gathering mode with a heavy emphasis on how we FEEL about different past life experiences and future options. We dutifully track this information (ya, write it down!).
3. Still live your everyday life. The proverbial show must go on. Bills must be paid. Try to find joy in how you might be serving others during this plateau time before you may move in some other direction. Gather information regarding this experience. Have a “curious” outlook towards your own current life.
4. We monitor our anxiety relating to the uncertainty of where we might end up. Reminding ourselves “Oh ya, I forgot, I'm on plateau and I need to cut myself some slack!”
5. Meditate every day. This is a time for meditation if there ever was one. It will relax you but more importantly, clear away mental chatter so that you can better monitor thoughts and feelings on your next course of action. Small amounts of meditation time are better than no meditation.
6. Seek feedback from respected, objective parties. Do not allow yourself to be told what to do. You are simply gathering information to keep or toss based upon what resonates with you.
7. Explore options and put feelers out with the curiosity of a child. Note that we sometimes deduce our next step by first eliminating what we know does not resonate with us.
8. Beware of being in a waiting mode. This is the hard part because you are in sense waiting for some type of clear direction from within and without as to your next step in life on some front. Yet wallowing in the feeling of “waiting” denies living in the present moment. It can block reading of messages that your inner wisdom has been processing for your receipt. The information you need will come when it comes. You are living your life, not waiting by the phone.
9. We need to watch the semantics of our own mental chatter. Yes, even calling this type of time period in our life a “plateau” is semantics. But how we talk to ourselves matters. Our thoughts dictate feelings, which in turn affect further thoughts, sometimes spinning from there. If necessary, adopt the temporary mantra of “Let this plateau serve me.”
10. We need to not try and force resolution or control outcomes. We are information gathering, watching our thoughts and feelings, allowing these “plateau processes” to occur. Where we end up may be a surprise or we may end up in the same place with some new outlook. Let the process take place.
Plateaus may come and go in life. Learning to recognize and embrace them will enhance your overall happiness while allowing those times to best serve you.