That initial sense of being trapped carries quite the SNAP! of realization, doesn’t it?
Once that realization hits, the idea that we’re caught in something is almost debilitating, because it can permeate our being, and slowly spread into other areas of our lives, creating an overall dissatisfaction – not just with our circumstances, but also with the way we look at ourselves, and maybe even how we view life itself.
In a bewildered way, we ask: How did I get myself into this situation? Why did I make that/those decisions?
Rather than blaming ourselves, what we need to realize is that the trap is there for a reason, which is to provide a pivot point – a choice point for us, from which to consider a different way of living and being.
And if you’d rather not believe it was there for a reason, at a minimum we invite you to consider that this problem – the trap – is simultaneously an opportunity, as most problems are. In fairness, we need to acknowledge that this concept can feel annoyingly positive “What? A problem is simultaneously an opportunity? Suuuuuuure it is.” But after one gets over the anger and sadness associated with realizing that you’re trapped, it’s worth doing something positive with the situation. Otherwise, all we have is anger and sadness.
We have three main options.
- Stay in the trap and do nothing (other than feel angry/sad).
- Stay in it and adjust our perspective.
- Get out of it.
Option 1: Stay in it and do nothing.
If you make this decision, the message the trap is giving you is that you see yourself as a victim of circumstances, or of other people – as a rag-doll who doesn’t possess the wherewithal to change yourself or your situation.
The difficulty we humans have when we are in victim mode is in seeing the trap at all, because the rewards we derive from being a victim are blinding in their seductiveness. And, even if we recognize the rewards, they are far too “satisfying” to renounce. Imagine giving up all that attention from others, and what about giving up the idea of specialness… the idea that we’ve been singled out to be more hurt by life than others.
If we think we are hard-done-by, we don’t realize that most everyone has been wronged at one time or another.
So, if you think you might be responding to the world as a victim (which is difficult for any of us to notice and/or acknowledge), we suggest you first look at what you’re getting out of being a victim. Then, ask whether the price is worth it. (You might want to use the third-person perspective talked about in the Jan/Feb Newsletter article to ask yourself those questions).
Option 2: Stay in it, and adjust your perspective.
If you make this decision, it may be that you fully understand the price you’ll pay if you make decision three, given you may lose your job, your family, your friends, plus the image you have of yourself.
Making this choice shows you’re cognizant enough to know that if you change the way you view the situation, you just might be able to stay where you are, and create a great deal of satisfaction and happiness. What kind of a change of perspective, you ask? Changing to something like: “This trap is here to teach me something. I wonder what the lesson is?” or “Actually, this isn’t a trap, it’s a new pattern or rhythm for me, and it’s good because of …”
You might, from time to time, long for what you imagine is the greener grass of Option 3, but it is highly possible, with a change of perspective, to live a very good life under Option 2 without major regrets.
By the way, we suggest you start by choosing Option 2 even though you may be tempted to head straight into Option 3. If you alter the way you view your situation (as described above), and then discover a few weeks or a few months later that you still feel trapped, you’ll know it’s time to get out.
Option 3: Get out of it.
If you go for this option, well… let’s just say you’re asking for it. Why? Because change comes with chaos (disorder, confusion, and conflict), prancing along with it.
Not to scare you off, but change is demanding.
It will take you deep into the core of yourself and demand attributes you haven’t yet developed. And when you do develop them, change will give you one last punch on the jaw to make sure you’re really committed to that new way of being.
In fairness, we owe it to you to say that – as many of you will know from your own experience – while this process can sometimes happen quickly, it can also take a long time – possibly years – depending on the intensity, severity, complexity of what you’re facing, and on what kinds of other demands are on you at the same time (work and family duties, financial obligations, etc.).
But…with persistence, eventually, everything settles in, leaving you with a sense of accomplishment, and the knowledge that it was all worthwhile. And everything you learned along the way – all the attributes you developed – you now get to keep as lifelong steadfast companions.
As Winston Churchill famously said during the intensely trying times of World War II as Britain stood up to the Nazi onslaught: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”