Imagine sailing through life or a treasured project with the flow of unbridled ease. Everything unfolds or appears as if by magic. You call someone who not only helps you but connects you with three other people who can support you in ways you had not considered. Even the weather cooperates. Your event closes to rave reviews. Your debut book climbs to the New York Times Best Seller List. Your garden for the past three years has been an exceptional blend of delectable colors and flavors. You are in a groove.
Or perhaps the above scenario is where you want to be. It is not that you are necessarily unhappy with your life, but “things just aren’t quite right.” The job you loved fifteen years ago is boring; You eat the same dinner meals on the same night every week that no longer light up your taste buds or comfort you. The routine once helped stabilize you emotionally after a devastating experience. You long for something different but cannot put your finger on what that something is. You may know what you want but feel stuck in your current circumstances. You are in a rut.
People do the same things repeatedly, either because they are proven successes or completely zoned out, carrying out acts of monotony and futility. What appears to be a valiant effort of perseverance may be an unhealthy attachment to seeing an endeavor through to the much--desired outcome. The dogged belief about “one more time, one more time, maybe if I try this” is fueled by desperate moves of hope that luck will turn around and smile favorably. You remain in an uncomfortable or bad situation even when facts warn you otherwise. Unhealthy, self-defeating habits and addictions begin here. Another reason for raw determination is FEAR. Of failure. Of humiliation. Of loss of integrity. You may be considering the impact of your change on others by necessity. You may have fears of abject loneliness, the looming unknown future, no one or nothing familiar to which to turn, no reasonable replacements for your current pall.
Grooves are silky smooth caresses on your cheek, a warm cotton blanket in front an embering fireplace, the shoes in your style, size, and color on sale! Grooves are soothers. A sense of comfort, safety, support, satisfaction, meaning, and other feelings of well-being rise from within you. They energize you and motivate you to keep going. Grooves create the big picture of your project while you happily fill in the details like an Impressionist painter. You take a step back and say, “Wow.” You smile a lot. You are relaxed and open to new possibilities. Communication with others enhances all of your relationships. The groove has the potential to become a way of life. With cumulative success from project to project, you adopt an attitude of joyful anticipation. This does not mean things will never go wrong—at times, they may go
horribly wrong. With the glow of past successes beaming from you, techniques and strategies, or lessons you learned, you are prepared to face downtimes and unpleasant situations.
You receive rewards as you do the same thing over and over with stellar results each time which may lull you into the belief all outcomes will be whatever you desire. Grooves are not necessarily one-size-fits-all widgets. They can be an outline or framework or guideline flexible enough to adapt to future projects, such as a blog post. You may follow the same structure for each post although the message in each is very different. Or, you may find a formula to be followed with precision to produce the desired results repeatedly, such as manufacturing a certain car. This is how we get cheat sheets, copyrighted training programs, and mass-produced merchandise. When something works, we keep doing it.
Ruts are exhausting as you continually try to find a solution to your dilemma. You cannot seem to progress, no matter what or how hard you try. People who believe in you and want to help tell you about connections they have and vehemently tout their skills. When you contact the person or organization and tell your story with hope and a smile in your voice, they say they cannot help you for various reasons. You are keenly aware something is not working but you have no options in front of you. Ruts give a distorted view of the big picture, so the view from any angle is nonsensical. To regroup and start anew feels formidable. You ask, “How do I try again and again and again with faith, trust, and renewed hope? Try What? Where?” You may become fatigued, anxious and depressed.
You spin your wheels in the same place in the groove long after desirable results have ceased. You no longer derive pleasure, satisfaction, joy, challenge, or meaning from something once important to you. Perhaps you do what you think or have been told is best for you or the elusive “everyone.” You cannot imagine the possibility of improvement if you make a change. You reason that a move could make things worse, more volatile as you work hard to maintain equilibrium in the touchy mobile you hold.
The above scenarios give you a clear idea of the differences between a Groove and a Rut. Here is a short journaling exercise to help you enhance a groove or get out of a rut and forge a new groove. Often the action of calling to ask for information or researching possibilities on the internet are all it takes to set in motion a whole new world.
· Draw a line down the center of a blank page in your journal and label the columns Groove and Rut.
· Think of a groove you are in or want to be in, and for five minutes, write relevant words in the Groove column. Do not think about them. Simply write whatever drifts into your awareness.
· Now, think of a rut you are in and for five minutes, write relevant words in the Rut column, using the same process you used for the Groove column.
· Compare the lists and ask what you need or need to do to move from the Rut column to the Groove column.
· Write a plan, taking whatever time you need.
· Lift your chin, and write and say, “Yes, I am ready to give my life what it needs to flourish.”
Sometimes getting into a groove is so organic, you just slip in. Other times, you need focused practice. Either way, the feelings of achievement are unmatched. “Floating” is a term that comes to mind. So, go ahead. Make your plans to flourish. Then, do what you need to do. And always keep your best friend, your journal, handy to record your words of triumph and self-celebration
Billie Wade, a lifelong journaler, believes people are precious, sacred, resilient, and stronger than they know. She created Journaling to Heal, LLC which helps people discover the power of writing in their process of recovery from emotional stress and trauma. Visit her at www.billiewade.com and find more of her writing on www.dmpcc.org/billie where she writes a monthly newsletter column for Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center.