Feeling stuck? How to take the first step when you don’t know where to start.

“I don’t know where to start.” What exactly are you saying when you use this phrase? Those words are fear-based and leave you stuck in the same spot as time passes on. Those words shine a light on the subconscious messages that have played in your mind for years. 

Children should be seen and not heard.

Have you heard those words before? Those words plant and reiterate the message that says, “You don’t have a voice, and your voice does not matter.”

She doth protest too much.

Did anyone listen to you and act on your behalf when you felt uncomfortable around an adult? Were you punished when you attempted to advocate for yourself? Was advocating for yourself even an option? You were probably penalized for advocating for yourself when you disagreed with the adults in your life. What happened if you didn’t like a relative or a family friend? Did anyone ask you why, or did they expect you to greet them happily with hugs and kisses?

What is the message you received when no one listened to you and considered your feelings?

Were you scolded for being disrespectful and rude if and when you protested? Were you expected to do as they told you? If you were, the underlying message was, “You don’t have a say in your life; your choices and your voice don’t matter. It doesn’t matter what you want, and if you can’t live with that, you will be penalized.”

How do the underlying messages manifest in your life today?

When you have lived with the mindset that your voice does not matter, you are likely to have difficulty making decisions and often second-guess yourself. You probably put everyone else’s needs above your own and feel guilty when you make yourself a priority. You fear messing up and being penalized, and you don’t know the meaning or the value of speaking up for yourself. On the other hand, you may be irritable and frustrated often, short with others, lack patience, lack trust in others, and even condescending.

Where do I begin?

The “Do as I say” approach only is not the best approach to communicate your needs to others. 

You can begin the healing process by putting a good intervention in place. For example, when you have a goal in mind that you want to accomplish but struggle with the thought, “I don’t know where to start,” think of that phrase as an incomplete sentence that requires an ending. Complete the sentence by saying the following out loud, “I don’t know where to start because…” (Insert reason here). Complete the sentence without filtering your thoughts; speak what is on your mind. 

When you complete the sentence, you’re permitting yourself access to the thoughts and feelings you’ve been afraid to acknowledge. When you grant yourself access, you can explore your emotions and begin to strip away the thoughts’ power over you, intrusive thoughts that increase anxiety and other mental health symptoms. 

Next, ask yourself, “Although I feel that (insert your completed sentence here), is this factual, is this true?”

“If my statement is true, what are the facts that make those words true?”

Present the evidence.

You then present yourself the facts: “This is true because…(list the reasons). Always remember that facts are not based on what you’re feeling but on what the actual evidence shows.

When you present the facts, you will see that the mountain, which seemed impossible to climb, has tiny steps that have been there all along to help you reach the top.

When you realize that feeling stuck is fear-based, you can take back your power by acknowledging your fear.

The feeling of “not knowing where to start” and not advocating for yourself is not going to disappear overnight magically. You have functioned from a fear-based mindset for a long time, and it is where you feel comfortable. As you begin your healing journey, negative thoughts may continue to arise, but the thoughts will become quieter with the right mental health interventions.

I am a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles and offer complimentary 15-minute initial consultations. If you are a professional woman seeking counseling, you may click here to schedule an appointment.

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