Feeling stuck in life? Do you feel overwhelmed and like your life will be like this forever? Get unstuck with these biblical principles on emotional healing Nicole Zasowski.
The full transcription of Do You Feel Overwhelmed and Like Your Life Will Be Like This Forever? Get Unstuck with These Biblical Principles on Emotional Healing with Nicole Zasowski is below.
If you are feeling stuck in life, this episode will help you get unstuck emotionally so you can move forward.
Learn how to emotionally heal with God instead of running from your feelings by getting my book Face Off with Your Feelings.
Feeling Stuck in Life
I think that a lot of women and listeners probably believe that the way life is for them right now, is the way that life will always be. Sometimes in our pain, in our frustration in our circumstances, we begin to believe our feelings as though they are the truth, we become blind to the real truth, God’s word, and we start to believe these lies.
Where do you think this comes from? Or what kind of lies do we tend to lean towards in this situation?
When I am working with my clients, and even in my own mind, and heart, because I also am not immune to the human experience and find myself, I see that there’s largely two ditches that we can fall into on either extreme.
One is that we try to approach our pain with what I call toxic positivity or blind optimism. This is where we don’t even name the pain or specifically name, what hurts. However, we expect what is good in life, to cancel what is hard. It doesn’t tolerate pain and joy sitting together in the same room.
On the other extreme, we take our painful emotional experience, and we treat our feelings like they are the most real part of us. So you’ve heard me say this before, but one of my most helpful phrases that I repeat to myself a lot is: there’s a difference between feelings being real, and feelings being true.
I have never talked to a client and heard their story and not understood why they feel the way they do, they’ve have really good reasons for the scabs being ripped off those emotional wounds. And we don’t always have a choice in terms of what kind of pain comes our way. But when it does come our way, the hopeful part is that we do have a choice of what we do with that.
We get to choose how we steward our pain, and the kinds of things that we gently say to our pain. Sometimes we need to slow down and learn how to rest.
I think a lot of women have a hard time even going to church. Sometimes we have a hard time being real in church. Because I think we have to choose all the time between pain, feelings, our situation. And I think I would love for you to break open that statement a little bit more between real and true, because there is a difference. Have you experienced XYZ at work, in your friendship in the church body, wherever it is, you experienced a real situation? But then there comes a story that we tend to believe right? And we sit and tend to write with our thoughts.
So can you talk about that statement and how the feelings are real and then the difference in truth. (Especially for those who are feeling stuck in life.)
Lots of us have a childhood story that left us feeling a certain way about our identity or our sense of safety, or a church experience. Or, you know, an experience in a friendship or even living through a natural disaster or a horrific event. I am in the greater New York City area, and the scars of 9/11 in this area are still very real. I’ve never listened to a story and not understood why the pain is there.
And the hopeful part, and the part that requires some responsibility, which is actually empowering. It doesn’t sound like a very positive word in our minds, but when we are able to say “okay, this is what was handed to me, this is the feeling that I received in response to this painful action that was taken against me or just happened. I have a choice in terms of what narrative I am going to claim moving forward.”
In other words, am I going to give that situation or person the power to define my identity or sense of safety that way? Or am I going to claim a message of truth? There is a difference. For instance, feeling disappointed and being a disappointment. And maybe you even receive a message that you were a disappointment. Sometimes these feelings can leave us feeling stuck in life.
For instance, in the family that you grew up in. And I think a lot of us, as adults, are waiting for somebody else to correct that message.
Whether it’s the original people who wounded us and delivered that message, or perhaps a spouse. We got married thinking, “Oh, finally, somebody to make me feel loved.” That is understandable, but not going to work.
There comes a point where we have to decide: what is the message that I’m going to claim as true? Even if I still have this painful feeling? What am I going to say to myself?
How would you recommend practically somebody beginning to change the message or to really overcome this lie that life will always be this way? How would you help someone get pass feeling stuck in life?
Something that I talk about in my book, “What if it’s Wonderful”, around celebration. That we see joy and celebration sitting on the other side of a goal achieved. And we think, I’m perfectly willing to tell myself the truth; or I’m perfectly willing to, to celebrate, if I have a reason to do so.
But just like celebration, the truth is the same way. It’s much more of a rhythm that helps us experience more joy in the life that we’re already living, than it is a reaction to good news, or a reward for some sort of change or an accomplishment.
And so I think the first step is, unless you know what pain you’re speaking to, you can’t speak truth to it. So a common mistake, because we tend to speak in the language of identity a lot more than we speak in terms of our circumstances. If you are feeling powerless, or helpless, disempowered to change how you feel and interact with your life, the common mistake is to say: I’m loved.
Or if you’re talking to somebody else: you’re so valuable, or you’re so loved. And that is true, we are all valuable and loved. As people, we have inherent value. But if the pain that we or somebody else is feeling is disempowered, or helpless, or out of control, it’s not going to speak to the heart of that emotional experience. So you have to specifically name either: How am I feeling about myself? Or how am I feeling about my circumstances? in order to be able to speak a truth that actually addresses that pain. So that I would say is the first practical step.
I talk with women a lot, they’re like, I know all those things. I’m loved. I know I’m cared for. I know, I know….and so on. So I love that you’re like, let’s name it, because I think that’s powerful. And so when it comes to naming our pain, like you said, and then being able to speak that truth, I would love for you to share what it looks like practically walking it out.
So even if you have a situation or maybe a story from your book, “What if it’s Wonderful”, where you were combatting this lie with the truth, but also applying the truth in action?
The last third of my book, I continue with biblical truths and personal stories, and obviously, psychological applications. But one of the things that was really important to me is I wanted it to be practical.
So if this is a question that piques your interest, just know that the last section has a ton of practices. And one of the things that was important to me is that all of those practices be doable and accessible to everyone. No matter what kind of season they’re walking. Most importantly, if you are feeling stuck in life.
So if you are in a season of pain, you can still practice these. If you’re in a season of joy, you can practice these. I think one that’s been most helpful in my life recently, because I have a tendency toward disappointment and also discouragement.
I would not say I am naturally a glass half full person. Usually, I tend to be glass half empty, always seeing what hasn’t happened yet. And it can really color my day, when you have this lens of what has not been, versus what has been. The practice of savoring has shifted my thinking in the moment, and totally changed the trajectory of my day toward a more hopeful view. It doesn’t change the circumstances of my day, but it changes how I interact.
And the way that you practice this is you just ask your five traditional senses, what they’re going to remember about a moment, and I’m talking moment like snapshot. I had a friend who is raising four teenagers, and her moment was just the fact that her family of six was sitting down for dinner at the same time, like just one little thing.
And you just say, what do you see? What do you hear and what do you smell? What do you taste? And what do you feel. And that cements that truth or that joy? In this example, for me, combats that discouragement and disappointment.
It helps me savor that moment that my brain would be tempted to dismiss as unimportant. Joy and delight is not very sticky in our brains in a way that helps me see what’s going on differently and interact with my life in a more hopeful way. It’s also a great practice for anxiety. It keeps you so intentionally present, and engages all five of your senses.
A lot of us rely on sight, because it’s more obvious, but engages all five of your senses to keep you very present where anxiety tries to pull you into the future and back into the past.
Do you have any tips for when we’re in these thought cycles so much? How can someone begin to process through feeling stuck in life? They become kind of that hamster on the wheel where he keeps going and going and going. How would you recommend somebody become aware that they’re thinking these things? Especially holding this lie that life will always be this way?
Often it’s easier to see the tip of the iceberg floating on the surface of the water than it is to see what’s below the waterline. And what that looks like for us emotionally. When you feel something either about your identity or sense of safety or empowerment, you are going to react unchecked.
You’re going to react to that feeling in 1, 2, 3 or all 4 of 4 ways: blame, shame control, escape.
This is based on a model I use called restoration therapy in my practice. Often I tell people as an entry point, be on the lookout for blame, shame control, escape. If you are engaging in one, or two, or three or all four of those four behaviors, it’s like a weed. It doesn’t just appear without a root there is an emotional root.
Either something you’re feeling about your identity or sense of safety. And so it’s totally okay to work backwards and see that behavior as a clue. Okay, I must be feeling something about myself or my situation or a relationship. What is that? How can I talk to that? Almost like a kind parent to a child on the inside.
Because we’ve all grown and matured a lot since we were children, but we have the same heart and the same wounds. And so to take an empowered position as an adult and speak tenderly to that feelin. What do I want to do differently than that behavior that I either just engaged in?
These are understandable things, none of us like the way that we react to our pain. But chances are, that behavior was necessary somewhere along the road, to protect yourself. It’s just not going to be serving you anymore. Now that you’re an adult, what was once protection becomes a barrier to meaning and connection in our adult lives. Feeling stuck in life doesn’t have to be something you feel forever.