Feeling trapped in life? What to do

person feeling trapped sitting on woodland path

It is very normal for us to at times feel trapped in life and ask what to do? How do you get mentally unstuck? What does it mean to feel trapped in your own body?

In the fast paced nature of life we can often not realise that we are all in some way interconnected as human beings. We can also be blindsided to the real choices we have in our hands and fall victim to external pressures. Tension from our managers to get a task completed without the help of resources; arguments in relationships focussing on the surface context and not the deeper layers of reasons behind such a dispute and also cultural, media and societal pressures can all leave us feeling trapped from time to time.

We do not want to control our mind and thoughts but we want to understand the dynamics of emotional intelligence and be the observer of what is happening in order for us to walk freely into an open plain once more.

It is very common for someone who feels trapped for their self-esteem to decrease, to withdraw from social settings and the present moment. It is also common for such individuals to feel restless as they are conflicted with internal chatter and a struggle to change the status quo. This is perfectly normal and you are good enough.

In this article we will learn how to work with our thoughts and emotions in a healthy manner and give you a deeper understanding of the dynamics at play. Meaningful Paths can further help you with emotional intelligence, resilience, to find meaning and much more. Feel free to sign up to our newsletter for further learnings.

Butterfly on window to signify feeling trapped

Why do we feel this way?

When a negative thought occurs the cognitive functioning of a brain narrows which can in turn result in further negative thinking patterns and less creative thinking.

It is important for us to pause and stop ourselves in our tracks when a negative or group of negative thoughts come forth. We can pause, take a breath and use an anchor thought based on mindfulness practice and then think of a past positive memory. This in turn can help us counter negative thinking patterns. Resilience Coaching and teachings and Emotional Intelligence Coaching and teachings can help further with these concepts. Mindfulness based stress reduction techniques can help us assess our thoughts ad emotions.

Feeling trapped can be linked to anxiety and depression and this can create a cyclical nature of further anxiety and negative emotions due to exhaustion and frustration within our minds.

A lack of meaning in challenging situations can result in us feeling lost and entrapped. As anxiety and other negative emotions ensue, we can withdraw from the present moment and feel trapped. A good metaphor for this would be Ariadne’s Thread and the Maze whereby every corner we take we are lost further. With the thread we find meaning and consequently no matter what the situation is we are not lost. Our free eBook on Ariadne’s Thread can be found here (https://www.meaningfulpaths.com/free-self-help-ebooks/?swcfpc=1).

Pressures in life and a heavy load of amalgamated situations can take their toll on us. Combining financial stress, job pressures, relationship challenges and more can combine and cause us to feel entrapped.

A concept called learned hopelessness can also result in us feeling trapped as we try to get to an end result several times and ‘fail’ to do so. When this happens our mind can train itself to think in a hopeless manner. This often happens when we try to ‘over control’ situations.

Road going through woods

What to do when you feel trapped?

  1. There might be many reasons for your current situation but it is important you take responsibility for the next actions you take and responsibility for taking the first step. A great way to begin is to choose to help another person. Earlier we spoke about stopping negative thinking patterns that can cause a downward spiral. Text one person and tell them why you are grateful for them in your life. This could be something along the lines of; ‘I am practicing gratitude at the minute and I just wanted to send a quick message to say that I am grateful to know you. Thanks for always being there.’ You can be more specific and speak from the heart. The key here is refocusing your mind on something positive and away from focusing on escaping the trap. Once you focus on positive aspects and also be kind to others then organically you will begin to free yourself from certain negative emotions and thinking patterns.
  2. Following on from point one we want to begin exploring our values and finding meaning in our own life. This is incredibly important as once we begin to find what we value in our life and we the align our actions with such values we will always have a buffer to bounce off and understand negative emotions and also actions for positive emotions. We do have a free course on meaning which you can explore. A good way to start is with a walk in nature. Do not force emotions or judge any of your thoughts. Simply breathe in the fresh air and soak up the beauty before you. Concepts of meaning will begin to naturally fall into place.
  3. A vast number of studies show that engaging with others and social interaction improves our well-being. You may or may not wish to share your current challenges with a certain individual or social group. However in addition to doing so embracing deep conversations, shared activities, laughter and positive emotions will also assist you in escaping the feeling of entrapment. Good hobbies to have or to start would include anything social. Volunteering to help others can be great too.
  4. Although face to face engagement can be very rewarding and can involve increased empathy and connection; online social engagement can also be very helpful in organically moving away from negative emotions. Using your skill sets and combining this with online connection can combine volunteering to help others, and in regaining a sense of identity. For example you could volunteer a skill such as writing, graphic design, and more to help a small charity or even a start up business.
  5. Begin to build your own world and create an environment purpose built for you health and well-being. Working on our mindset and inner peace is absolutely invaluable. The outside world is a reflection of our internal world. Having said this the combination of practices such as mindfulness and emotional intelligence in addition to a purpose built environment for our well-being will help us to feel in control. When we suffer a job loss, financial pressures or a break up we can lose our sense of identity and who we believe we are. If we begin to build our own world of positive constructs we can maintain our sense of identity. For example if we went through a break up but we had multiple income streams, we volunteered and project managed a local homeless shelter, and partook in local sporting events, you could maintain certain pillars that help with your resilience, well-being and sense of who you are. Match this with finding meaning in challenging events and emotional intelligence and you will have many positive constructs to help you.

A conclusion of thoughts

We can all feel lost and feel trapped within our life time many, many times. The first step is to take responsibility and find the strength and courage to do one nice thing for another person. The process of past positive memory recall can help provide a strong emotional shift to begin. Having a deeper understanding of our values and balancing negative events and negative emotions against such values, allows us to find meaning in given situations. By finding meaning we never feel completely lost as we always have a guide of values to help us on our journey. We can all enjoy quiet moments of contemplation and downtime; albeit by mixing harmoniously with other individuals and communities our positive emotions, well-being and also moments of meaning can flourish. By creating positive pillars in our life and building our own world we can have many pillars of strength and resilience that are purpose built for moments of meaning and positive emotions.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to explore Meaningful Paths further.

References

https://www.bluezones.com/2012/04/friends-nourish-the-body-and-soul/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908186/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131205220031.htm

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-put-down-the-self-help-books-resilience-is-not-a-diy-endeavour/

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