Sometimes in life we can get derailed either by something happens, which is totally beyond our control and for whatever reason we end up in a psychological rut. It’s as if the wheels have fallen off, and we are going nowhere. So are there any telltale signs to tell us if we are in a rut?
If you answer yes to any of the following questions then it is more than likely that you are in a psychological rut:
- Is your life mundane?
- Does everyday seem the same, mundane and boring?
- Did you do last week what you are doing this week?
- Do you spend a lot of time watching boring programmes on television?
- Do you exercise at all or if so very little?
- Do you keep settling for second best?
- Do you feel that your life is going nowhere?
- Do you beat yourself up inside your head?
There are probably more questions you could add to this but this is just a mere starting point if you answered yes to at least three or four of these questions then there is a good chance that you are actually in a rut.
So how do we end up in a rut? There could be any number of reasons but here are just a few you could have become recently separated, lost your job, trauma, and the list goes on.
You will probably notice some changes in your behaviour you could become withdrawn and don’t interact socially with people and be living somewhat of an insular lifestyle almost on your own island. You could have a lot of time to think about your past and your future this can create a pattern of learned behaviour within your mind, which will guarantee a restrictive lifestyle. And it will be along the lines of all or nothing thinking, for instance “I am ugly” “I am fat” “nobody likes me”. These are classic negative thinking patterns and if repeated enough can become automatic in nature you could get into the realms of ANTS (automatic negative thinking) where you don’t even realise that you’re doing it.
The problem with being a rut is it can affect all parts of your life if you think of the rut as a diagram. And the rut being in the middle of your diagram, and you have branches going off as in a mind map, and then you put all the problems you are having in your life then you will definitely see a pattern.
If you think of a pond, throw a pebble in it, and watch the ripples on the water this is how the rut is affecting your life it ends up getting everywhere like a spanner in the works. So what is it that keeps us in our ruts? The way I see it, it’s like playing safety shots in snooker, we live our lives treading on eggshells and living in a virtual bubble which we have created.
This comes about as repeated learned behaviour once you start to behave in a certain way over a long period of time your brain becomes wired that way. Much the same way as you learn to do anything in life once your brain knows that you are doing something repeatedly it creates clusters of brain cells to take care of this process so it becomes automatic as is does your rut.
This is one of the reasons why it can be very hard to break out of a rut once you are in one. And so a pattern becomes entrenched and without realising it, you are in a rut. If you’re trying to lose weight or eat the right foods, being in a rut can affect all of these issues. Why stay in one then? That is a very good question, and hopefully I can answer it for you probably where you are in your life now it seems the safest place to be we can use the analogy of it being like a warm comfortable blanket that we don’t want to take off in winter.
No matter what so as time goes on, we end up staying way we are and not moving forwards. One of the problems of being in a rut it tends to have consequences, which we probably don’t need or want.
These could be some of the following that you may tend to suffer from when you are in a rut:
- A very unfulfilling life
- Feeling tired and listless
- Worrying about things a lot
- Isolating yourself from people
- Very little social contact
- Avoidance of being in a relationship with somebody
Which isn’t very fulfilling at all if we look at the list above, so now that we know how it affects us, and if we are a one. Is there a way out of it? Yes, there definitely is but it does take work much the same as it did as to how you ended up in a rut in the first place.
The first thing you need to do is make a list of all the things that you want to change about yourself get a piece of paper and draw a line in the middle and one a bit further down so you have two columns. In the left-hand column, you need to put down the behaviour/habit that you want to change and in the next column what you intend to do. The only way that this will work for you is if you work at it consistently and over a period of time your brain will rewire itself. So let’s have a look at some examples of what you can do in order to get out of it.
First of all, start today don’t keep putting things off the reason for this is this creates more of the same mentality and tomorrow never comes. Procrastination can lend its hand to being in a rut so don’t let it control you. So let’s get going and get out of our rut.
Turn off the television
It doesn’t need to be indefinitely are you one of those people who watches the news every morning have you ever noticed how it makes you feel watching all that negative information all the time.
Amongst the studies that have been done about people who watch television it’s been found that people tend to treat television like their own reality, and it stops them from connecting with themselves internally and sorting out any issues that may need sorting out. The researchers found that people disconnect from themselves and can become depressed.
Keep yourself busy
When you’re busy you don’t have time to think about all the problems in your life, instead it’s far better to focus on doing something rather than dwelling on things that aren’t actually happening.
What are you eating?
When you’re in a rut, there may be a temptation to comfort eat, which may in turn lead to weight gain the problem is when you turn to foods that give you comfort it only lasts for a short while before you want to eat some more. Which in turn becomes a vicious circle you are far better off eating healthy food it will make you feel a lot better.
Connect with your inner self
When you have downtime, which can be quite a lot when you’re in a rut try not to think of all the reasons why you are there in the first place. Instead try to connect with who you actually are along the way you may have lost your real self, which isn’t really who you are.
Try not to be so hard on yourself
When things aren’t going as you want them to be sometimes it can be very tempting to put boxing gloves on and beat yourself, and I know myself I have been prone to doing this in my life, if something happens and it’s out of your control and not necessarily, your fault then it’s better to let it go otherwise there can be a tendency to dwell on things and you make yourself feel worse.
So take the boxing gloves off and be kinder to yourself. Take it from somebody who knows because at one time I used to be exceptionally good at it.
Raise your awareness
Sometimes what with the hectic pace of life what with one thing and another life can get too much and our brains can get overloaded, and we tend to feel that we can’t cope and this also sometimes can put us into a rut mentality. One of the best ways I have found to raise your awareness and get some kind of inner peace is to meditate for 30 minutes every day if you can manage it or when you can fit it in.
This is another great way to let your mind be still for half an hour when you first try it may be hard to stop thinking about all the things are going on in your life at the present. But with practice you will find that you will feel a lot more relaxed and focused in your life, I highly recommend it.
Are you getting enough exercise?
One of the best things that you can do when you’re in a rut is get some exercise not only will the outdoors make you feel better the exercise in itself will give you an overall good feeling both mentally and physically. When you are overweight and may have self-esteem problems one of the hardest things can be to start exercising and doing it consistently. However, the thing to remind yourself is why you are actually doing it.
How much time do you spend in the house?
It’s all too tempting when you have the mindset of going nowhere to stay at home a lot perhaps this has become a bit of a safe haven for yourself and a way of shutting the outside world off, but it won’t do you much good behaving this way.
Solitude is okay in small amounts but too much of it over a long period of time can make you feel depressed and unhappy because used feel so disconnected from the outside world so make an effort to do some socialising it doesn’t have to be anything big or fantastic just something will do.
Commune with nature
Human beings by nature are social creatures much like any other animals, and we aren’t supposed to be stuck in one place all the time, particularly in doors and isolated from other people. So make a habit of either going somewhere, which has a wide open space like a park which has plenty of green with trees etc.
You will feel so much better for doing it, in the study where people in a hospital were put near windows where they could see the outside world their recovery rate was a lot higher than people who didn’t see the outside world.
Write down clear goals
Life is like a journey going from A to B and it if you have no set destination then it will be harder to get there, all this will do is lead to unfulfilling feelings and frustration and may ultimately lead to depression. As the saying goes every journey starts with the first step.
Goals are an important factor if you want some direction in your life if you have no goals then your life will seem directionless and pointless also. So start right now with a sheet of paper and write down some goals that you would like to achieve.
Let go of procrastination
Procrastination is a typical thing that people can tend to do when they are in a rut it’s all too easy to get into the habitual behaviour of procrastination and keep putting things off but this will only make things worse for you in the long run. So try to face up to life’s problems and deal with them as they come otherwise one thing can tend to pile on top of another, and it’s very easy to get overloaded when there is no need.
Being in a rut is not the best place to be at any time in your life so in conclusion take action today, and you will thank yourself for it later on down the line.