Feeling trapped in situations you seemingly have no control over can be traumatic and draining. Here’s something that can help you even when you can’t help your circumstances.
We sometimes meet people who are very uncomfortable with their life. Something is going wrong, and they are frustrated and unhappy. As a counselor, this is particularly hard when I encounter a couple and one person just wishes that the situation were different.
This is very human and very common. When most of us don’t like something, we do things to change what we are experiencing. This is a habit most of us have just by growing up and taking care of our lives.
But when there is no way to change a situation, what do you do? It’s like trying to move a brick wall. How hard is that? Impossible.
When You’re Feeling Trapped, What Can You Do?
So what is the alternative? One alternative is to ask ourselves what are we going to do about this upset that we are feeling? See, in this case I am not looking for a solution to the external problem. I am wondering what we as humans can do differently so we will not suffer as badly.
This is the concept of turning in to ourselves and noticing that we have an uncomfortable feeling and then asking ourselves, “What am I going to do with this uncomfortable feeling?” I know I have spent decades trying to change and control what happens on the outside with little or no acknowledgment that there was an inside of me happening at all.
But I have learned that turning in to my inside feelings and taking care of them is a quicker way to feeling better. I can’t always make the world as I would like it, but I can always notice what I am feeling and figure out a way to feel better.
Change How You React to Conflict to Improve How You Feel
If our thoughts tell us, “He or she is making me so mad,” something your partner is doing is creating this inside of YOU. Your habit is probably to attempt to make your partner stop, so you won’t have to experience those feelings. However, understanding that something happened to YOU is a first step in freeing yourself from being bounced around by outside experiences.
We all know that after we solve one thing, another thing will just pop up. This way, where we notice ourselves first and take care of ourselves, we never get lost. This is how I do it. If I am agitated or feeling uncomfortable about something I don’t try and change what is happening on the outside.
When You’re Feeling Trapped in the Moment, Pay Attention to Your Body
I focus on what is happening to my body. Usually my stomach is in knots. I take a moment and breath deeply into the tightening in my belly until it relaxes. When I am attending my body my mind is thinking about what is happening in my body, not what is going on the outside.
In that brief time I am helping my body to relax I have unhooked from the trauma that caused it. My mind stopped thinking about it for a few seconds. And this pause or gap is everything.
The mind is clear again and we can see something differently. Maybe we notice our feelings got hurt. Maybe we noticed we need to say something. Or it could be that we tell ourselves, it’s OK. I am OK.
Only you will know what works for you. But I invite your to try and nurse yourself when something happens. It might just save you a lot of pain.
Can You See Yourself Not Feeling Trapped Anymore?
Read a Book About Relationships
If you’d like to experience less conflict and feel trapped less often, try reading Linda’s book Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It might just help you communicate more gently and with less blame, making them more likely to open up to your concerns, so you can work on them and enjoy a more fulfilling relationship. Give it a read.
Get Couples Counseling
Come in for couples counseling. Couples counseling can help you and your loved one get the most out of your relationship. It'll equip you with coping strategies and tools for communication that can help you argue less and love more.