NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Psychotherapy Blog: How to Get Out of a Rut - Part 2: Taking Steps

In my prior article, I began the discussion about getting out of a rut by defining what it is and what it's not as well as some of the common reasons why people get into ruts in their lives.

Taking Steps to Get Out of a Rut

In this article, I'm focusing on some tips that might be helpful to get out of a rut (see my article: Recapturing a Sense of Aliveness).

Since everyone is different, you might find some of these tips more helpful than others and, as I mentioned in my prior article, what might appear like being in a rut might actually be a more serious psychological problem that requires professional help.

For now, let's focus on some of the things that you might be able to do to get yourself out of a rut so you have more of a sense of well-being in your life.

Since many people are afraid that it would take too big an effort to make this kind of change, you can start by looking at one or two areas where you can begin to make small changes that feel do-able.

Tips for Getting Out of a Rut:
  • Looking at Your Usual Routines:  Is there some small change that you can make to one of your usual routines?  So, for instance, if you always take the same route to work, what if you took a different route?  What might you see or who might you meet that might be new and different? (see my article:  Being Open to New Experiences).
  • Revising Your To-Do List:  If you find that your to-do list is usually so long that you almost never complete it, why not consider revising it so that it's more manageable?  At the same time, you can include some self care items on your list to nurturing yourself.  
  • Reflecting on Your Habitual Ways of Thinking:  This requires self reflection and, possibly, some help from a trust friend or relative, who might be helpful to see things about yourself that you might not see. When was the last time that you questioned certain feelings, opinions and values?  Are you able to stand back objectively and consider that you might be thinking and behaving in ways that no longer suit you and your loved ones?  Reflecting on your habitual ways of thinking might help you to see things from a different angle.  Or, after looking at things from a different angle, you might still feel the same.  It's the act of reflection and objectivity that's important.  Maybe you want to try challenging yourself by looking at TV news that you normally don't watch, so that if you normally watch a liberal news broadcast, try watching a more conservative one or vice versa (see my article:  Overcoming the "I'm Too Old to Change" Mindset).
Taking Steps to Get Out of a Rut
  • Looking at Your Fear of Change:  Take time to question your fears.  Are your fears amorphous and vague or are they specific?  Are you afraid of specific changes or any type of change?  Take time to write about your fears and, in writing about them, do they stand up to the light of day or do you see certain distortions in your thinking that underlie your fears? (see my article:  Fear of Change).
  • Bolstering Your Self Confidence:  Are you going through a period of self doubt because of recent circumstances or is your lack of self confidence a lifelong issue?  Were there other times in your life when you were afraid to make changes but you overcame your fears?  What enabled you do it?  If you can't draw from your own experience, are there people that you admire who have been able to get themselves out of their own ruts?  Are there things that they did that you can borrow that might help to bolster your self confidence.  If there isn't anyone that you know, use your imagination and think of someone that you admire from a TV program, a movie, a book or a historical figure.  How did he or she overcome a lack of self confidence to lead a more fulfilling life? (see my article:  Becoming the Person You Want to Be).
  • Looking at the Impact of "Negative People" Around You:  For reasons of their own, many people who struggle with negative thoughts, often unwittingly, have a negative impact on the people around them.  Often these people, who might be depressed or have other psychological problems that they're unaware of, can dampen other people's enthusiasm for new plans or changes in their lives.  This doesn't mean that you should stop being emotionally supportive to friends or family members who are "down."  It does mean that it would be helpful for you to take a look at the impact that they might have on you and learn to distinguish between their unhappiness and how you feel.  In other words, distinguish what emotions belong to them and what belongs to you.  If there are acquaintances in your life who tend to discourage you, you might want to reduce the amount of time that you spend with them, especially if you're trying to get out of a rut yourself (see my article:  Workplace: Being Around Negative Coworkers Can Have a Negative Impact on Your Mood).
  • Meeting New People:  If you have a set of friends that you really care about, that's great.  You might also consider getting out to meet new people that might help you to gain a new perspective, learn about new interests, and see new places.  
  • Recognizing that Everyday is a New Day:  Your perspective about each day is very important.  If you look at each day as the same as the previous one, you're unlikely to get yourself out of a rut.  But if you look at each day as having the potential for new possibilities, you open yourself up to the possibility of new experiences.

Taking Steps to Get Out of a Rut

What If It's More Than Just Being in a Rut?
As I mentioned in my prior article, sometimes depression and anxiety, as well as other psychological problems, can be the underlying problems for being in a rut.

If you've tried own your own and you've been unsuccessful to try to get yourself on a more even keel, you could benefit from the help of a licensed mental health professional.

Getting Help in Therapy
Going for a consultation with a licensed therapist could help you to address the underlying issues that keep you feeling stuck (see my article:

Rather than continuing to suffer on your own, a licensed mental health professional can help you to overcome the obstacles that are keeping you from leading a more fulfilling life.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.