Feeling paralyzed?


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A big indication that you are in a stressful relationship, either at work or at home, is that when you think about the particular person or situation, you feel paralyzed.

You can’t move forward. You can’t move back.

You are stuck and the stress is killing you!

The reason you feel so paralyzed is that you have made a commitment to this relationship — either it’s your job and you don’t want to lose it, or it’s a serious relationship in your family or with your “significant other.”  So you have already invested a lot of time, energy and hope in this relationship. And yet it’s not working. Something has gone very wrong.

Let’s say the problem is in your marriage. It could as easily be a paralyzed situation with an in-law, with your boss or a co-worker or your assistant at work.

It could be that warning signs were there from the start but, as we do so often when we get signals that don’t jive with what we’ve decided we want, you ignored them and barreled ahead with the relationship. At times, you might have felt uncertain about it, but you dismissed your inner misgivings as being cold feet or normal anxiety about getting married.

But now you’re stressed out all the time and if you’re honest about it, you can see the pattern has been there all along — there was a blueprint from the very start, as if for a garden layout and now all the plants are full grown because years have passed and you kept reacting to each other in unhealthy ways.  Now you’re choking in the weeds, miserable and confused, when you thought you were going to have wedded bliss with roses, fragrant lilies and singing birds.

If you weren’t fully invested in this relationship, it would be a lot easier to move forward — to split up and go away. But usually, we enmesh ourselves quite thoroughly so that making a decision to stay or go leads to feeling completely stuck and unable to do either one whole-heartedly.

If you are paralyzed, wondering what to do next, set aside quiet time to think about these things:

  1. If you imagine yourself leaving, do you notice a sudden release of tension in your shoulders? That’s a clue that your heart really does want you to find freedom from this untenable relationship, and simply go, to find a fresh start.
  2. If leaving makes you feel instantly panicked and afraid, that can indicate that you have a lot of work to do on your own self-esteem before making a decision either way. So give yourself the gift of time to keep thinking about what is in your best interest. No need to rush, unless physical abuse is involved — in that case, don’t delay a minute more. Get yourself and your kids to safety.
  3. If things are basically “good enough” and you have already made the decision to stay, then stop behaving the way you always have.  If you’ve gotten into a habit of arguing all the time, cut it out! You need to shake up the way you run your life and stop dancing to the tune of the old patterns that are not really working for you.

I can’t solve “your problems” in my blog, but I hope I’ve given you some new things to consider.

If you have a specific question about stressful relationships, go to askevelynbrooks.com and post it there — I’ll try to answer it here in a blog post this month!

your happiness guru,

Evelyn

Comments (4)

Shelly Lisoskie

June 2, 2010

I have been in professional and personal relationships where I felt this type of paralysis. it's terrifying, because you have made such an investment in these relationships! But when I released myself from the pressure I was putting on myself to be the savior of the relationships, I felt such relief! A huge burden slipped right off my shoulders. I was still able to function within the relationships, but I wasn't responsible for the whole outcome - I did my part and encouraged the other people to do theirs. Not simple, but necessary.

Shelly Lisoskie

June 2, 2010

I have been in professional and personal relationships where I felt this type of paralysis. it's terrifying, because you have made such an investment in these relationships! But when I released myself from the pressure I was putting on myself to be the savior of the relationships, I felt such relief! A huge burden slipped right off my shoulders. I was still able to function within the relationships, but I wasn't responsible for the whole outcome - I did my part and encouraged the other people to do theirs. Not simple, but necessary.

Evelyn Brooks

June 3, 2010

You're so right, Shelly! Thanks for your thoughtful response. Exactly true: not simple, but necessary! Horrible staying stuck instead.

Evelyn Brooks

June 3, 2010

You're so right, Shelly! Thanks for your thoughtful response. Exactly true: not simple, but necessary! Horrible staying stuck instead.

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