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Feeling Trapped Doing Anything Except What We Really Want

Dilbert Cartoon - feeling trapped during another day in cubicle paradise! Credit: Scott Adams

Feeling trapped and wondering what to do

Millions of us, at some point, wake up feeling trapped. We might start wondering how to get out of the day in the office (wherever, or whatever, your “office” is). These mornings often start with us feeling sluggish, worn out, or simply bored of what lays ahead. What exactly is happening to us, and what can we do to get through these moments?

It’s tough feeling trapped in anything, and the damage done over time by feeling this way is considerable. It’s a slow-release toxin that shrinks our thriving world, weighs down on us, and slows our personal and professional growth. In time, left unmanaged, we tend to lose confidence, drive, ambition, and passion for what matters to us.

The first thing many individuals do is get online or run out to the local bookstore to buy a copy of the latest how to get rich quick or how to retire wealthy at 30-something books. Newsflash: these investments are disappointingly futile but there is hope!

Why feeling trapped creeps into lives

There are many reasons that feelings around being trapped creep into our lives. By recognizing them, we can both be attentive to early warning signs, and we can head them off before they become an issue. The beliefs that tend to pop up may include:

  • People around us are better than we are
  • A need to prove ourselves 
  • Telling ourselves that things will improve
  • Being unclear about what we want
  • Thinking it is tougher “out there”

The good news is our beliefs about something can be changed, which is something we control. Let’s look at a couple of these areas a little further.

Turning the tide by checking our beliefs

Waiting and seeing

One of the limiting beliefs I hear most often is: “things will improve, I will wait until XXXX (chose any number of events) and see what happens”. If I had a dollar every time I heard those words, I would have retired wealthy already! The term for this wait to see if others get it approach is often coined “being in denial”. That is not to say that waiting doesn’t have its merits, it does.

Staying and waiting things out is helpful when it’s a step within a larger plan we can influence. For example, saving part of our salary to build up capital to start our own business in yy months. Absent a controllable strategy, we are often wasting our time, feeding self-doubt, and digging a ditch so deep that feeling trapped becomes a way of life. Our choices are the most effective when they are based on what matters to us, rather than driven by fear. Particularly the fear of making a mistake or making a poor choice!

We turn this around when we develop a clear plan. Using the plan, we act, learn from our mistakes and repeat until we reach our objective. 

Thinking it’s tougher out there

We are inundated with media headlines everywhere and every day. Right now it’s spiralling inflation, imminent recessions, climbing interest rates, growing inequality, and the climate crisis. The effect of this bombardment of information is believing that things are tough out there. Now we start thinking how lucky we are to even have a job, the timing for new job market searches is bad…. In other words, let’s not even think about upsetting the apple cart.

What we believe means everything. The truth of the matter is, if we believe we will fail then we will observe doors closing, hear no all around us, and be left with a belief that our only viable choice is to stay where we are. This leads to a feeling of being trapped very quickly and decisively. However, if we believe that we do have options, choices and chances then we see doors opening, champions surround us and opportunities present themselves.

Some industries and companies are undoubtedly riskier or tougher than others, but what is new in this fact? This will always be true! So, the key takeaway is to filter out excessive negative news and replace it with positive news. This will allow us to remove toxic biases and use balanced information in decision-making. Many individuals move into new roles, take successful risks, and strive for bigger and better outcomes. We can all do it too!

Final thoughts

There is no single approach that will work for everyone to break out of feeling trapped. Reaching our best and fullest potential is a personal and unique story. One which only we can figure out for ourselves. 

Breaking free takes a good plan, action, learning from mistakes, and repeating until the goal is reached. There is no better time than now to gift the world with your skills, talents, and energy. Tap into the part within you that is extraordinary. The part you know deep down could have a significant impact on the world.

Your turn

Sign in to the Community Member Area or comment below to share your advice with others on how you address the challenge of being trapped or stuck in something so you can go onto reach your full potential.

Give it a try!

Cartoon credit: Scott Adams

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