Roadblocks! The symbolic, metaphorical kind! Yes, they are not fun. And yes, they happen.
It is the nature of roads that sometimes things will be blocking them.
You have a plan.
You think it’s a genius plan.
You do the work to move through your fear, anxiety, etc about doing the plan.
You run with the plan …. and uh, oh, something is going weird with the plan.
This is a scenario I know pretty well. You know, from being alive and stuff. I imagine you do too.
Since this issue has been coming up all over the place, I thought I’d give you my Three Things to Do About Roadblocks spiel.
Okay, maybe not all over the place, but definitely in my inbox as my clients and some of the participants in the non-icky self-promotion course have been having some mini-freakouts. And who doesn’t need help with roadblocks?
The three things to do about roadblocks?
Thing #1: Be as upset as you want to be.
Allow your feelings. Give them legitimacy. What you’re feeling right now is what you’re feeling. It’s where you are right now.
On the road. In front of the stupid block. Dealing with frustration, anger and sadness.
Maybe there’s also some fear that you’ll never get past this. Maybe some “Ugh, I never should have even bothered.” Maybe some resentment that these things keep coming up for you.
Well? If that’s how you’re feeling, it’s okay to let yourself be a real, live human being who sometimes has uncomfortable feelings.
Screw all that “think positive” and “it’s all for the best” stuff. You don’t have to find a silver lining right this second.
You can do all that later when you actually feel like it, instead of doing it right now when you’re doing it out of guilt and not even believing that these fake, forced positive thoughts are actually true. Don’t ever turn positive thinking into a “should” because it doesn’t work that way.
What you’re feeling is temporary. What you’re feeling is normal. Let yourself be there for a little while instead of trying to claw your way out the second it shows up.
What would Selma do? Exactly.
Thing #2: Be James Bond.
Okay, now that we’ve let ourselves be upset and throw some chairs, now it’s James Bond time.
Which means? Roadblock schmoadblock, as our Mr. Bond would say if he’d thought of it. It’s not a block, it’s a chance to do something different.
And anyway, in any situation, there’s always an opening. There’s always a way out.
What would 007 do?
So you’re James Bond. Maybe you can drive around the roadblock. Maybe there’s another road. Maybe you can dump the chic little roadster and climb over it. And what about your jetpack?
There’s always an out. In fact, there are always going to be more than two options. Just take one.
Because otherwise your whole life story is going to be “I was on my way and then there was this boulder.”
This is where you remember that you’re free: to play, to change course, to innovate. Even to ask for help.
Thing #3: Ask for help.
Seriously. Just ask. Don’t go it all alone.
Also, something to keep in mind: help can be external or internal.
External is when someone out there (whether a friend or the Google gods or someone in your way extended network) can give you information or assistance that makes it easier to achieve and/or receive what you need.
Internal is when you go inside and ask yourself, and surprising, wonderful answers come up.
Either way, there is help for you. Because you are not alone.
Chances are, you are not the first person in the entire world to ever have had this problem. It’s very likely that someone you know has some perspective on this that is useful and insightful. Ask for help.
Make sure, though, that you don’t ask for help with the solution you think is the right one. You don’t want to ask for something too specific, like help tying a rope around the boulder and then lifting it with a complicated machine to dump it over the side of the cliff.
Because it might be that among your friends and connections there is someone who knows a shortcut that starts half a mile back — something that avoids the block altogether.
You don’t want the people helping you to be so busy planning ways to blow up the roadblock that they miss the real point — which is that you only wanted to get back to Milan before the charismatic, sexy, evil woman in black blows up the opera house.
Instead, you want to identify the challenge: I think I need to get here and this is what’s blocking me. So your friends can say, “Oh, what you actually need is over here!”
Let me tell you a story.
I have a really great story that I’m not going to tell you. Okay, I’ll tell you tomorrow.
It’s about all of these roadblocky issues and about how The Fluent Self got its name — a roadblock story with a happy ending.
Right now I want to tell you about the prison that is not a prison.
This wonderful spiritual teacher I studied with in Israel used to like to say that being stuck is like being in prison.
You rage and you yell and you bang against the bars until your arms are bruised and sore.
You come up with complicated, impossible plans designed to move one of the bars just enough so that you can get through.
You plot and scheme. You give up. You throw temper tantrums. You dream of escape.
And then one day you turn around and you realize that this prison cell only has one wall.
One wall. It’s open space all around you, and you’ve just been so close to this barred door that you never even noticed.
We’re the most effective roadblocks of all.
Tomorrow: how The Fluent Self got its name. Best roadblock story ever? Hmm, it’s pretty darned good.
And hey, you’re more than welcome to share some roadblock stories of your own in the comments section. Who knows … maybe the help you need is right here.
Thanks to Deb Owen for pointing me towards this video which is so, so perfect. Hope it makes you laugh rather than want to throw things: