I cannot see a thing.
This was not a pleasant discovery. I was driving to my friends’ party as I suddenly found myself surrounded by thick layers of fog. I disliked the road to my friends’ house – long, narrow, winding and not a single street light to guide a lonely driver after dark. I stopped the car. I opened the doors and got out. My suspicions were correct. One of my headlights was out – no wonder I couldn’t see the road.
There was only one thing left to do – wait for another car to pass me and follow it very carefully. Luckily, there was another car coming right behind me. It stopped, and a concerned female voice called out, “Are you ok?”
“I cannot see a thing,” I shouted back.
“Oh, wait a minute, I know your voice, weren’t you the speaker at the last year’s party?”
This was exciting. I had no idea I was famous… What’s even better, they knew me and this meant they wouldn’t freak out if I start following them. They probably were heading to the same place as I was.
“Please, can I follow you? Can you do me a favor and drive very slowly?” I tried to sound friendly and not too desperate (Please, don’t leave me here!)
We started our slow journey in the fog, in the dark. A warm wave of gratitude was flowing through my body, and I could finally see a faint outline of my friends’, Jack and Jane, house ahead, when.. crack. There was an unpleasant clanking noise and I was stuck. I tried forward drive – no luck. I tried the reverse – nothing. Forward – drrrrrrrrr. reverse – brrrrrr. Yes, there was no place for any doubt – I indeed was stuck.
Help! I got out and started shouting waving my arms like a windmill. I could see Jack running toward me with unusual for a 82-year-old agility. But then, well, Jack was unusual. One look under my car told him the grim story. There was a flat stone laying on the side of the road. If the stone were a bit higher, I would smack into it. If the stone were a bit lower, I would drive right over it. If I had better eyesight and two working headlights, I would drive on the road as everybody else and avoid the stone altogether. Presently, however, the front of my car was sitting comfortably on that stone, making it impossible to move.
Jack went back into the house and soon returned with three other men. Jack got into my car, while the men, grunting with effort, lifted the front of my car off the stone, and the next thing I knew, my car was free.
As I thanked my saviors, I couldn’t help thinking how similarly it was to my life. When I kept struggling with my stuttering problem on my own, I remained stuck. When I kept trying to solve it using the same methods and approaches that failed me before, I remained stuck. When I got out and called for help, I was able to find mentors, coaches, friends and role-models, who helped me to lift my life off the big, immovable stone called stuttering and move it forward.
Now, a NLP life coach, a hypnotherapist, I see clients who often come to me after years and years of unproductive struggle, after they exhausted all other options.
They tried pushing forward, they tried pulling in reverse, but the more they struggled, the more they felt stuck. And there is a good reason why solving your own problems is much harder than giving an advice to someone else.
My son, a bright 6-year-old, once asked me, “Mom, if the brain controls the body, then who controls the brain?”
This is an interesting question. One obvious answer is: “You control your brain.” But then again, how can you control your brain if you are locked inside it, just as I was inside my car. Just like I was not aware that one of my headlights was out, you may not be aware that you have limiting beliefs that prevent you from seeing clearly, until someone on the outside points them out to you.
It doesn’t matter how intelligent you are, you cannot get out of your head and take a clear look at your beliefs and perceptions that stand in a way of moving forward. If you just keep pushing forward and pulling in reverse and it doesn’t work, it may be time to call for help.
There was no way I could get myself unstuck on my own. I just didn’t have the resources, I didn’t have the strength to lift the car. Some people stay stuck for years and years until they realize that they are not getting anywhere. Some people live their entire lives feeling anxious, unhappy and hopelessly stuck.
So how you can get out and call for help? Here are 5 things you can do right now:
1) Talk to your friends and family. They may give you a new perspective on your problem and they may be able to offer a solution you haven’t thought of.
2) Find a book that is written by someone who traveled this road before and reached the same destination you want to reach.
3) Join a support group. Search for groups on Facebook, check your local hospital and community clubs, talk to people who have similar problem. If you cannot find the group you like, start your own. Sometimes the best way to help yourself is to reach to others.
4) Join Toastmasters. Even though this organization provides support and educational opportunities for people interested in developing their public speaking and leadership skills, you may find that having an attentive, encouraging and friendly audience is invaluable. Toastmasters clubs attract people interested in self-growth and supporting each other, so you will find plenty of support and inspiration there.
5) Check local life coaches and therapists. Ask your friends for referral. Many coaches will give you a free consultation, so you could discuss their methods and see if you are a good match.
When I came home, my husband immediately noticed the damage. “What happened?” he asked.
“I got stuck on a big flat stone,” I said.
“Ugh… Car ok?”
Well, as he explained later he could see that I was ok, so asking about the car was a natural thing to do. But the only reason I came out of this adventure safe and sound with only a slight indentation on my car was that I wasn’t alone. I got help.
Do you feel stuck? Have you tried pushing forward and pulling in reverse without any luck? Maybe it is time to get a fresh perspective. Get out. Ask for help.
Anna, this is one of the best articles (blogs) I have ever read. This will help a lot of people. I am so proud of what you are doing with what you have learned. Personal stories are what grab people and cause them to change.
Your friend, Jack
Thank you, Jack. I love the gatherings at your house. They are so inspirational and full of joy and love.
You ARE famous! And that was the worse fog I have EVER seen. (Couldn’t see with two headlights either!) Great post, thanks for sharing. I didn’t know this part of the evening until now, but it makes a wonderful story and lesson.
Kate, it was great to meet you and hear all the stories that people shared. I always feel inspired after Jack and Jane’s gatherings.
What an amazing story and allegory for life, Anna. I certainly have felt stuck in life as your car have been on that flat stone. The value of the right people to lift me up was priceless. Thank you for the inspiration.
Thank you, Leo. I really enjoyed your speech. This was the first time I heard it. It was hilarious.