Feeling Stuck

I drive carpool for my daughter and 3 other girls every Thursday morning and afternoon. Because I live in the LA area, traffic is nearly always a problem. So, I use google maps or waze or another such app to help me navigate the freeways. This has worked out pretty well for me except today, it took a REALLY long time for me to get the girls to school. They weren't late or anything but they didn't have nearly the amount of time they usually have to chat with friends and make their way to their lockers and things.

The app I used this morning kept taking me off the freeway and onto side streets and I realized that I'm in a situation that isn't ideal. The app I'm using is not taking into account that I'm driving a carload of people, and perhaps its actually better to be in the carpool lane on the freeway than go through all these side streets. There's really no way to know, though, because if I got on the freeway and into the carpool lane and got stuck there, it might actually take me longer than if I'd just driven the route the app told me was better.

This situation got me thinking about how clients (and all of us, really) feel stuck sometimes. We've been doing one thing one way forever and we THINK its the best way even though its far from ideal but to do it a different way is to take a big risk and maybe it will be even worse than the way we were originally doing it. The result is feeling stuck (and wishing someone would invent a device that would allow you to see the future already!) 

I believe we're all doing the best we can do with the information we have at the time. In my example above, the best I can do is to take into consideration the information I have (the gps telling me that the freeway is clogged) and either follow the directions it provides or decide to ignore the information and go the way that is unknown. At least three possibilities could occur : I could take a risk and stay in the carpool as long as possible, maybe getting to my destination quicker than the gps estimate, or I could try the carpool and alter my route back to what the gps tells me to do if it ends up being worse (I don't have to commit to a route that is clearly not getting me anywhere) and the third possibility is that I could do as the gps tells me to do but stop judging it as a poor way to go. Maybe its not that bad to go side streets, even if its NOT the best route. As I mentioned, the girls weren't late to class. No harm came from the route I went. So perhaps I need to change my thinking about the drive. Everyone got there in time, safely. Isn't that the whole point anyway?

Similarly, with other problems we face in life, perhaps stepping back a moment and putting some perspective on it, removing the judgement about it, can be helpful. When entering therapy for the first time, a client of mine is introduced to some new skills. Trying these MAY be beneficial, but its scary to stop doing what we've been doing all along, even if we know its probably not the best way to go about things. So, the options are the following: try the new skill and see if it helps, knowing that if it doesn't you can always go back to the old way of doing things or try a different set of skills, or keep doing the things the way you've always done them but change your perspective about them--stop judgeing them and deciding that you're weak or stupid for doing it this way. If its working in the sense that you're functioning, maybe it doesn't matter that the way you're doing things is less than optimal. Perhaps at some point, something will happen that will make you decide to do things differently at which point, you have new choices to make.

Until someone invents an app for me that takes into account whether you're able to use high occupancy lanes or not (why does this not exist?), I've decided to take the risk of ignoring my gps (unless I'm really unsure about how to get to my destination) and, if that way turns out to be a poor choice, I can always go back to the side-street option. I hope if you find yourself feeling stuck with a decision to make you'll consider all of your options and possibly take a risk to do something new. If you just can't do something new though, don't judge it! I won't, because I know that you were doing the best you could do with the information you had at the moment. Both of these options will hopefully lead you (and me) to feeling less stuck.