How to Get Out of Limbo | The BridgeMaker

How to Get Out of Limbo

By on Jun 20, 2013


You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select what clothes you’re gonna wear every day. – from Eat. Pray. Love. by Elizabeth Gilbert

Have you ever felt like dropping it all and just checking out? You know, those times when you’re so stressed, so frustrated, and so overwhelmed, you couldn’t care less what happens next.

It could feel good at first; the illusion of being carefree, but when it starts to happen too often, that’s when people start to feel depressed or panicked- or maybe a little of both.

Feeling out of sorts, without a care in the world could evoke certain big questions, like “What is happening to my life?” or “Why is this happening to me?”

The Symptoms: How do you know if you’re emotionally checking out on life?

This normally starts when people start doing less and less of what is expected of them, be it from their work, family or relationships. They’re just there but they are not emotionally or mentally invested in what they’re doing.

The days and months just pass by in a blur, because they don’t really know what’s happening in their lives.

Stress, loss of a love one, relationship fall out, unemployment, a midlife crisis and even overwhelming positive emotions can make people feel like they need to check out on life.

Whether you do “check out” or not, depends on your resolve and coping strategies.

Overcome these Feelings, Don’t Let Them Overcome You!

I learned a lot while helping clients rise above these feelings. Applying these tips helped them focus on today and find a way to get out of limbo. I hope that you can accomplish the same.

  1. Be in the “now.”
    Don’t think about the past and the future too much, don’t even stress about what’s going to happen tonight. Just focus on each moment, so you can live life fully without unnecessary worries or stress.

    If you often find yourself stressing about tomorrow or guilt tripping about past mistakes, ask yourself some questions to bring your focus back to the present. “How do you feel right now?” “Do you like what you see?” “What do you smell?” Use your senses to get your mind’s attention.

  2. Find the root cause of negative and overwhelming emotions.
    Many times, people feel a certain way without even knowing why they feel that way. You know how there are some days you just feel so drained, you don’t even want to move or think? That’s your emotions getting the best of you.

    Okay, so how do you counter this? First, you have to name the exact emotions you feel. Every time you feel like dropping the ball, ask yourself, “Why am I feeling like this?” Force yourself to name the exact reason or situation that makes you feel helpless or overwhelmed.

    After that, list down the details of the situation and ALL the emotions you felt because of it. If you experienced a dozen emotions in that instant, write it all down. Putting pen to paper helps to put things in perspective, so just write and write until you’ve let it all out.

    Don’t forget to write “WHY” said situation made you feel like dropping everything. Evaluate everything you wrote, then find a better coping strategy so that next time the same situation comes up, you’ll have a better way of dealing with it. Think of it as your Plan B.

  3. Accept that you can’t change everything.
    Some things are just out of your control. Once you accept this, you will notice that you’ll have less and less meltdowns. Categorize your worries and problems into three:
    a. Things you can’t change- ever!
    b. Things you can’t change right now but might be able to in the future
    c. Things you can change now

    Instead of tearing your hair out at things beyond your control, focus on the things you have the power to change now. This, in turn, gives your brain something to work at, something that will make you feel accomplished after you manage to solve it.

    Once you’ve squared away the immediately actionable items, then you can move on to changing the situations that might take a bit more work.

  4. Increase your self-awareness.
    Every action you take has a reason behind it, whether you’re aware of it or not. I’m sure there were times when you just wanted to give up and hold your hands up in defeat.

    But are you just doing this out of habit?

    Think back to previous scenarios when you last gave up on someone or something. If you discover that you checked out on life a couple of times on similar incidents, like when your boss is being impossible, or when your partner won’t pay attention to you, or when you just feel like so many things are happening at once; then it means you’re just reacting. It means you’re letting the hard-wired neurons of your brain to take charge; you’re not actually making a conscious choice.

    If you’re habitually checking out on life for the same reasons, then it’s high time to make a choice. Exercise your self-awareness muscles. Every time you’re about to hold up your hands in defeat, ask yourself when was the last time you gave up for the same reasons. Doing this will juggle your brain cells, and you’ll eventually realize that you can choose to act differently.

    Really, if you’ve been doing the same thing over and over again, it doesn’t mean that you have to continue doing it for the next twenty years, right? Remember what Richard from Texas said in Eat. Pray. Love, You have to make a conscious effort to choose, just as you make an effort to choose what you wear every day!

  5. Show yourself the same love and respect you show your friends and loved ones.
    Some people think too low of themselves, their confidence and self-esteem is practically non-existent. Just think about it, if your friends were to treat you the same way you treat yourself, you’d have a falling out!

    Believe in yourself and in your potential for greatness. This is perhaps the first and most important step in surviving everything that life throws at us.

  6. Create positive habits you actually enjoy.
    Spend 30 minutes to one hour each day doing something productive and enjoyable. I’m not talking about watching TV or playing Xbox; instead try learning a new skill or craft. Think of all the skills and things you wanted to do but had no time for in the past. Now is the time to read the book you bought months ago, relax and have a long bath, or have a weekend staycation at a B&B.

    It doesn’t matter if what you’re doing will be useful in the future or not, all that matters is you’re enjoying and doing something meaningful. Once you can do this consistently, without wanting to drop the ball and check out on life, then it’s time to add another habit.

    Building positive habits will give you a sense of continuity in life. It will excite you and remind you of how good it feels to look forward to doing something you like, instead of experiencing life in a blur.

Remember, everything you feel is temporary. Your emotions are like computer programs that you can easily re-write should you wish to do so. Just because you feel like checking out, doesn’t mean you have to do it.

There’s a better way of living life, and I’m sure giving up and tuning out everyone isn’t included in that life.

Paul Bailey is a Confidence Coach and Business Improvement Consultant. He specialises in helping people realise their potential and unleash their inner confidence. By putting these two elements into action, he provides the support people need to achieve the very best they can, in both their personal and professional lives. As a gift to readers from The BridgeMaker, you can download his free e-book, 80-Tips for Daily Action on ImpactCM. Interested in being mentored? Email Paul or follow him on Twitter @lifecoach.

  • Paul, you hit a home run on this one for me. I will be working on your suggestions to get back into actual living. Thank you.

    • Glad you liked it Glynis! I’d love to know how you get on and any pit falls you might have, please keep in touch!

  • Loving this post. Living in the now is one of the best things you can ever do for yourself. It changes everything, doesn’t it. It’s a practice and the beginning isn’t easy, but once you truly commit to it, your whole being transforms.

    • Glad you liked he post Anne-Sophie! I totally agree it’s the best thing you can learn to do. It’s not easy, and sometimes you will fail no matter how hard you try. But when you do succeed it’s almost magical. There is an amazing video that really teaches a very simple way to practise being in the moment and choosing how to think and look at the world. “This is water” is worth watching

  • Hi Paul, great inspiration. To be honest, I think the one I tend to struggle with the most is learning to be completely present in the moment. It can be hard to not dwell on the past or be so stuck in trying to figure out the future that we refuse (inadvertently) to be in the moment.

    • Hi Bryan, great to hear you liked the post! Really good point on being present too! Being ‘present’ is a skill that you have to practise. It’s like going to the gym, you’re not going to be buff just going once. I recommend to my clients that they think about what their triggers are that cause them to dwell on the past. You can look back and think of a time when you were stuck in a dwell mode, and think, what was the trigger that caused me to get stuck? With practise it’s easier to spot the triggers before you get trapped in dwelling over past events. In essence you should try to fix the cause of the problem, not the symptom. I hope it helps! If you are still struggling just get in touch.

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