Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Creating Wiggle-Room to Enable Positive Change and Break Through

When our backs are pressed against a wall, two main choices may cross our minds: 1. Curl up and die. Give in. End the fight. Or, 2. Make an irrational decision that will make us feel less suffocated and more secure as quickly as possible, not necessarily concerned with the possible consequences.

Having had my back pressed against what feels like a brick wall behind me and a boulder in front of me, pushing me even harder against the wall, I have responded to my “pressing” situations with both of these reactions. Each time I have made decisions based largely out of fear of the unknown, or for the need for the pressure to be released immediately, I have regretted it.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you are working in a job that fulfills your passions and creativity, but does not pay the bills and you are considering leaving that job to pursue something that interests you less, but will provide for you financially. Take a look at what you value. If you value creative outlets and living passionately, chances are you will find a way to makes ends meet regardless of the size of your paycheck, because you are living in line with your values. If you value independence and financial freedoms, you probably would be more fulfilled in a job that provides the type of lifestyle you seek, rather than one that feeds your creativity. There is no wrong answer, as long as you are aware of and making decisions based on your values.

Know your limits:

I personally could have avoided a lot of stressful, pressure-filled situations if I had simply known my limitations. We are all built to handle pressure in different ways. Some of us are built like a tree branch- strong, but fragile. Others of us are built like a mason jar- solid, but not unbreakable. The amount of pressure on us at any given time could greatly decrease our tolerance for handing the other things coming at us. But, just by being aware of what our limits look and feel like, we will better able to see what’s coming and adjust our coping strategies accordingly.

I have written before about how true and lasting change takes time. Creating change that lasts means taking small steps toward your goal every single day. I’ve said “Forward movement is movement, no matter how small.” The same is especially true for the moments in your life you feel under pressure or even paralyzed in a certain situation. Circumstances are going to arise in each of our lives on a somewhat consistent basis, which will leave us feeling pressed against a wall with very little wiggle room to breathe, think rationally, or take a step in a different direction. We will feel, many times in our lifetime, stuck. Scared. Blinded. As my daughter likes to remind me on a daily basis, “Life isn’t fair.” My response to her is always a gracious “You’re right.”

Knowing that we will all be faced with these uncomfortable situations, it would behoove us to try our best to prepare for them with the strengthening of our spirit and of our will. While we can never be fully prepared for predicaments, situations and circumstances we can’t fully see until they are right on top of us, we can practice attitudes and actions that will help us when we find ourselves against a wall. After all, practice doesn’t make perfect; practice makes preparedness.

The last thing anyone wants to do when under pressure is to make a choice that will end up having adverse ramifications in our present or future circumstances. While none of us have a crystal ball with the ability to see into the future, we all have the power to look within ourselves- and a responsibility to know ourselves well enough to be able to make small, calculated steps that will get us out of the quicksand and out from behind the wall when we feel stuck.

Here are the key areas we all should focus on when it comes to learning how to navigate pressure-filled situations without exploding:

Know the things you value most: by knowing your true values, you will be able to discern what types of decisions could have a more positive impact on your future and those that may have a more negative impact. If you are not in touch with the things you value most in life, you are left open to consider options that may not be in harmony with those things, leaving you at risk to making a decision that could cause more troubles down the road.

Ask for Help:

This could be the most important lesson of all and one that many of us miss. I know I personally don’t like to ask for help. I’d like to be able to do it all on my own– to overcome the situation and push away from the wall by my own strength, determination and will. Unfortunately, sometimes sheer will and determination aren’t enough. We need someone outside of our situation to take a good look at just how stuck we are.

They, being outside of our brick wall and smashing boulder, will be able to see things from the outside that we are blind to from the inside. It may feel to us that the only way out is to break an arm, but they may be able to see if we move our foot just one inch to the right, we can create space and begin to move. A change in perspective can change the entire outcome. While I’m not suggesting to let others solve our problems for us or give unsolicited advice, I am suggesting letting someone help find the way to getting un-stuck.

I hope the next time you are feeling under pressure, you will remember with confidence that you are not alone. In the meantime, get to know yourself! The better you know your true inner self and values, the easier hard decisions will be come when you are feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Creating Wiggle-Room to Enable Positive Change and Break Through?  Share with Patricia or email at pbodry@vertikalmagazine.net

Patricia Bodry