A couple of months ago I got stuck in the elevator in my building. By myself. Almost entirely in the dark. For about an hour.
Unfortunately, I’m more than a wee bit claustrophobic. And while my rationale mind told me that nothing bad was going to happen and that there was nothing I could do to change my circumstances–that I had absolutely no option but to wait until somebody came to rescue me–my lizard brain was in overdrive. I needed to get out. Now.
Fortunately, during the past couple of years I’ve learned some meditation and breathing techniques that allowed me to settle in and accept my situation for what it was: an uncomfortable inconvenience that would end once the guy from the elevator company turned up to set me free.
While this was the first time I’ve gotten trapped in an elevator, it was hardly the first time I’ve gotten stuck.
I’ve been stuck in career choices, avoided difficult situations for extended periods of time, spun endlessly on critical decisions, procrastinated on important things I know I ought to do. The Resistance has grabbed a hold of me more times than I care to mention.
Of course, we all have our own metaphorical versions of elevators we are stuck in.
But when I was really trapped, all the wishing and hoping and spinning I did was to no avail. I could push the button over and over again and the doors weren’t going to open.
That’s not so true of the other places I’ve gotten stuck, where I’m trapped entirely by my own thinking. There, the option to fight through my fear and overcome The Resistance is always there.
For me, naming the elevators I’m stuck in is the first step.
The second is to accept that there is no elevator repair guy who is coming to rescue me. These are my dragons to slay.
The third step is to realize that it is, in fact, a choice–my choice–to become unstuck.
Then I have to be willing to start, to push the buttons, to let the doors open to a world of possibilities no matter how uncomfortable the journey through and beyond those doors might be.
Too many of us wait until staying stuck in the elevator becomes more painful than leaving it. But by then it is usually too late.