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Stuck in the woods? You don't have to stay there

I was walking my dog, Kali, the other day and laughed as I saw her get her nose so buried into the dirt and under the fence, you’d think she was trying to take up residence in that little rodent’s underground apartment (I realize she likely had other things in mind for Mr. Rodent, but let’s not go there). Seeing her head down, bum wagging in the air was quite a sight! And then, as often happens, I started to think about how this kind of thing reminds me of how we humans can be. In this case, how we so often bury our heads and get caught in the weeds, unable to see, smell, or feel anything but the “rodent” that has our attention. 

We get so mired down by the stories we tell ourselves; the “he said/she said” scenarios we make up and things far beyond our control, and we end up upset and worked up. It’s startling how easily and often it happens. 

What’s equally startling is what it does to us, and how ineffective it is. We lose sight of the fact that we have endless opportunities to lift our heads, look around, and get curious about why we’re feeling stuck. 

  • What are we churning about? 

  • Why are we churning about it? 

  • Is it a core value that is being pressed? The thing that’s bugging you might be bumping up against your values. Realizing this can help you understand why you're worked up.

  • What else might be possible? 

  • What are we not seeing because we’re so buried in this hole?

So What?

Burying our heads and getting deep into the weeds of our own or others’ situations is often a waste of time and energy, and leaves us feeling anxious, depleted, powerless, and even angry. And it distracts us from other things that need our attention, leading to us being unproductive, upset, and ineffective.

When we learn to lift our heads, we notice new details; things we were blind to before. Somatically (in our bodies), we start to feel new possibilities.

Now What?

Consider a new practice you can initiate when you find yourself stuck in the weeds. 

Pause. Notice that you’re digging for dirt and looking for rodents.

Lift your head. Seriously. Right now, lift your chin by 1%. Now another 1%. Let your eyes follow naturally. Be adventuresome and lift your chin all the way to the ceiling. Again, let your eyes follow naturally. 

Pause. Hold. I know it feels odd. I won't keep you here for long, I promise. 

Now, bring your head back to level, eyes straightforward - neither up, nor down. Exhale. Exhale again. Let your belly go, let your shoulders drop, open your mouth just a wee bit and let out a tiny sigh. 

What do you notice now? 

Be with this stillness and curiosity. Nowhere to go, nowhere to be, other than this moment. From here, choose where you want to go and how you want to be.


Look around.

Ask yourself, What do I notice that I didn’t notice before? Consider your five senses as a starting point: What do you see, hear, smell, feel, taste? 

Notice your new view, new perspective; it just might have shifted, even a tiny bit. 

Now ask, What is now possible with my new view?

With a practice of lifting our heads and looking around, rather than getting stuck indefinitely in the weeds, we notice what’s happening around us, can acknowledge that we've been here before, and decide that we don’t want to be here anymore. 

Choose to do things differently next time: pause, drop your shoulders, unclench your jaw, breathe deeply, and notice what happens. 


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