Sometimes when we are in a situation and can see no way out, we panic. We beat back and forth in our minds, so busy bumping into trees that we cannot see the paths through and out of the forest. Here’s what has worked for me.
1. Sit back, breath deeply, and try to still your mind. Don’t be like a butterfly that breaks its wings frantically beating against a window so that when it does get free it can’t fly.
2. Visualize your situation as a magician’s “Chinese ring.” It looks solid, but you know there is a “break” somewhere. Your strategy is to find it.
3. Put the situation on paper. Diagram how each unit leads to another to another and back to the start – except that there does not SEEM to be a start or an end. Remember to include yourself as a unit if your behavior/attitude could lead to changes in the situation.
4. Consider each unit in turn. Is it the weak link? What are the pros and cons of breaking out of your situation through THAT point? Write them down for EACH unit, even the ones you believe could not be your exit point.
5. Consider each unit as a separate entity. How important is it? What are the consequences of changing it? What would it FEEL like to change it? (The feelings are important information.)
6. Discuss the possibilities, particularly whatever action seems most likely at this point, with someone who is in a position to know about the ins and outs of your situation but does not have any vested interest. Lacking anyone appropriate, consider hiring a coach to walk with you through this crisis.
7. Study the diagram and your notes, thoughts and feelings again, then put the problem aside for at least 24 hours. Leave it alone to simmer in your mind.
8. Often there will be an “aha!” at this point and the decision is made. If not, decide, based on the foregoing, which unit is the weakest link, and what step will take you out of the situation successfully and with minimal negative effects?
9. Take the step.
10. Feel the relief, and CELEBRATE!