You may have read about the tiger in this picture in National Geographic back in 2008. The story is that this female tiger had wandered out of a nature preserve into a village where the fearful villagers threw stones and burning sticks at her and chased her up a tree. Once cornered, the tiger was captured by guards. After recovering from her wounds, she was taken on a boat back to the nature preserve and as you can see in the picture, made her leap to freedom. Especially poignant is that this rare Bengal tiger was pregnant.
CAN YOU RELATE?
Have you ever felt like a tiger trapped in a cage?
Are you in a situation where you feel cornered with no way out?
Is there something creative and passionate inside you, waiting to come out, but you’re holding back for some reason, perhaps out of fear or a sense of lack?
Maybe you’re in a relationship that has turned out to be less than fulfilling. Or a job that’s less than rewarding. Maybe you don’t have the money or things that you want. Perhaps you’re stuck in routines that are lackluster and boring and you feel like you’re missing out on how much better life could be. Maybe you’re engaged in habits or behaviors that are self-destructive and create pain in your life and perhaps the lives of others as well.
Whatever it might be, you could have had high hopes in the beginning for any one of the above scenarios, but over time it hasn’t turned out the way you were expecting. And now you feel stuck and don’t know what to do. This is very common and happens to just about everyone at one time or another.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
If you find yourself stuck in any situation, no matter how frustrated you may be, know that there is a way out. Know that within you is the power to change. Trust that your dissatisfaction is a sign that something in you wants to express and experience a richer, more rewarding life. You want more and that is natural. It is your nature to grow and change and any situation that you’re in that is not working for you is an opportunity for you to learn and grow. It’s the chance to discover and access inner strength and power that you may not have realized you had and use your ability to create something exciting and new for yourself.
Whatever it is that is not working, whatever the situation may be that you want to be different, the first step for change is to be honest about it. If you feel stuck, it’s typical to use denial in order to avoid facing the truth and having to be responsible for dealing with it. You might convince yourself that it’s better than it really is, or that there’s nothing that can be done about it. You might act helpless, as if you are a victim of circumstances. You may have a hard time accepting that things aren’t the way you thought they would be. You could unrealistically maintain hope that somehow the situation will magically change and improve by itself. It’s possible for things to improve on their own, but if a situation isn’t working and hasn’t been for some time, you need to be honest about it in order to do something to change it.
It’s good to let go of any illusions about what you thought you had or were supposed to have. Call it for what it is. It’s not about who’s at fault or who’s to blame, including yourself. Just be truthful about what is and isn’t, what you have and what you don’t. Honor your feelings. But most importantly, recognize that if it’s going to be different, it’s going to be up to you. No one is likely to make the changes you want for you. The first step is to take 100% responsibility for doing whatever is necessary for creating the results that you want.
To the best of your ability, see things as they really are. Get out of denial. Your experience is an opportunity to learn. Think about how you got into the situation in the first place. What were your original intentions? Your intentions were most likely positive and you may still have them. Positive intentions are good, yet be honest if the situation you’re in isn’t actually fulfilling those intentions.
There are a lot of questions you can ask yourself when you are ready to get unstuck. If you take the time to answer these questions thoroughly, you can attain insight that helps shift you into taking action to change.
Were there red flags, or warning signs, in the beginning of the situation that you ignored or missed? Would you do it differently if you had to do it again, knowing what you know now?
How have things changed from when they started? What can you learn, what is this situation teaching you about yourself that is positive, constructive and useful for your future?
What do you need to release? Are there emotions such as anger, resentment or hurt that you need to process? Do you need to let go of useless or outdated attitudes, beliefs or behaviors? Are you engaged in dysfunctional habits? What do you need to stop doing? What do you need to start doing? What needs within you are going unmet? What desires within you are going unfulfilled?
Do you need to forgive yourself or others? Are there people, places and things that don’t serve you, support you, or respect you and your good? Maybe they did at one time, but don’t any longer?
Are you getting something by not changing? Do you perceive some benefit? Is it worth it? Could you get what you want in a better way? What are you losing by not changing?
What are you afraid of? What’s the worst that could happen? And would that really be as bad as you think? What would you do about it? You could survive that, couldn’t you?
Access the present. Where are you now? What is the actual situation now? What resources do you have? What talents, skills, knowledge and assets do you possess? Who or what can you draw upon for help or guidance?
IF OTHERS ARE INVOLVED
If your situation involves others, can you make personal changes that will transform the conditions? If you behave differently, will the relationship improve? Can you take action that will change the dynamics in a work situation? Can you change your beliefs, attitudes and behavior and make things better?
Is the situation, especially if it’s a job or relationship worth saving? Can it be saved? The best choice if there is hope for a relationship or job and you want to keep it, is to do everything you possibly can to make the changes you need to make in your own thinking, attitude and behavior to have a positive impact on the situation. Do what you have control over. Be aware that you only have control over yourself; you can change yourself, but you can’t force others to change. But ask yourself, if you were different, would they change? Do you need to communicate more? Have you expressed your feelings and asked for what you want? Are you considering what others want from you and will you give it to them?
Is it a situation where it’s best for you to walk away altogether? If you’ve done everything you know how to make a situation work and it’s still not working, the decision you may have to make is to walk away. Maybe it’s time to jump ship. This of course can be a major change so make sure you do it after careful thought and consideration. But you may have to take that leap of faith. Remember, to thine own self be true. You have to do what’s healthy and right for you, and know that it will also be right for everyone else, even if others don’t immediately see it that way.
Where do you want to go from here? Consider the possibilities. If you could create exactly what you want, what would it be? How can you move forward and do things differently? How can you begin to make changes? Start with small, manageable steps if necessary. What simple actions can you take to start moving in a new direction? You don’t have to know exactly how you are going to get to where you’re headed, but begin by taking some achievable step. With one step, you can take another, and another, and the path will become clear.
Be your own guardian. Take care of yourself. What you need is important. Heal yourself. Give your body exercise, healthy nutrition and proper rest. Be kind to yourself through positive, nurturing self-talk and actions. Affirm the positive. Be your own best friend. Invest in yourself. Get help if you need it. Get counseling or coaching. Create a support system of people who will encourage what’s best for you.
As you start to make changes, you are likely to encounter resistance. You are expanding past your current boundaries. You may experience fear of the new, the unknown. You may doubt your ability to do what is necessary. Keep going. Do whatever you can, however small. You will make progress. You will start to get used to it. You will find out that you can, you will and you are making the changes you want to make. Your confidence will increase and you will feel good about honoring your needs and desires.
Be aware that when you do begin to change, not everyone is going to get it. Some people might want you to stay exactly the way you are because it serves their motives. They may not be able to control you anymore or get you to do what they want. They may be afraid, because when you start living life your way, your energy may seem to them to be wild and nonconformist. It makes them uncomfortable. Your changing might make others nervous that they could be prompted to examine their own choices in life. Or perhaps they are simply worried that they will lose you if you change and move out of their lives. Some people may be very happy for you and yet still not know how to handle it.
Don’t be surprised if some people object to the changes you’re making. They could push back. They might try to stop you but they can’t. They may throw stones and burning sticks at you, metaphorically, but you can’t be touched when you are faithful to yourself. You are meant to live your life your way and pursue your heart’s desires. That is the truth and it is right and natural.
GO FOR IT!
No matter how stuck you feel or how long it’s been, do what you can to start moving in a new direction and things will begin to shift. You are not meant to be caged in conditions that limit your magnificence. You were not born to sacrifice your dreams to be subservient to others. You are rare and unique, unlike anyone else, with your own special gifts, talents and touch. You are meant to sing your song and dance your dance. It is in the interest of the whole world that you express your gifts fully and completely. You are pregnant with urges and desires and creative impulses for greater life. You are a tiger meant to be free! Move forward. Be courageous. Have faith.
No doubt you have heard the following famous lines, usually attributed to Goethe: “Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”
Go for it! Bring forth what is inside you. Be a tiger!