Is it Groundhog Day……… again?

Do you ever feel like it’s Groundhog Day?  Do you feel stuck in an area of your life and think that it’s never going to change?  That no matter how hard you try, this situation is never going to be any different?  Are there things in your life where you know you haven’t moved forward or notice that you keep bumping up against the same obstacles?  Is that frustrating to you?  Are you fed up with the repetition and sense of Groundhog Day?

I love the film Groundhog Day.  The main character keeps having the same day play over and over.  He learns from his experiences from the previous day.  So, although the next day starts the same, his growing understanding means he starts to make different choices.  The outcomes of his actions and interactions change, and so, as the film progresses, he gets different results that are ever-more pleasing and satisfying to him.  Until he gets to the point where life can move on and the next day is truly different.

Groundhog Day and the Journey of Becoming

Until he gets it, he is stuck.  Locked into Groundhog Day until his mindset and perspectives change.  And, if you are feeling stuck, repeating the same scenarios, meeting the same obstacles, albeit with slightly different details, then there might be things “to get” that will allow you to move forward on your journey of becoming.

Perhaps it’s an on-going financial struggle or relationship issues around roles or communication?  Maybe it’s a work issue about time management, leadership or teamwork?  Could it be about purpose and living aligned to your values?  Whatever it is, it takes some looking at.  Engaging with the issue enough to see what you can work on to improve how you show up around this issue.

Fight or Flight keeps you in Groundhog Day

The challenge we all face with these Groundhog Day situations, is that looking at them can be overwhelming, confusing, dumbfounding, even fear-inducing.  It can leave you in the fight- flight state, otherwise known as the stress response, that can mean you freeze and do nothing about it, hoping it will go away.  Or you might ignore it and allow yourself to be distracted by something else instead.  Another option might be that you’ll keep bashing your head against this brick wall, hoping that if you keep doing the same thing, something will shift.

Whether fearful or overwhelmed, confused or distracted, your reaction to this situation is contributing to your sense of Groundhog Day and feeling stuck.  Your nervous system is in some degree of distress and so you disconnect from your creativity, purpose, courage and focus.  You might notice yourself thinking, “I don’t need to deal with that” or “I don’t know what to do”. “I’ll look at it tomorrow” but tomorrow never comes, or “I’ll keep going as I am”.  If you’re saying something like this, it’s probably your saboteur playing an old script around the issue which keeps you locked in.

Your saboteur’s favourite day is Groundhog Day

Rather than freeze, or step away from the wall, could you decide to step into it.  A hand? An arm? Immerse yourself as much as you feel ready and able to.

My experience is that it is like a wall.  I’m stood close to it, facing the bricks. It is massive, impenetrable, overwhelming and dark.  When I feel dissatisfied by my performance as a coach or facilitator, or by the way I’ve interacted with my partner, son, friend or a stranger, or confronted by any challenging issue, in my overwhelmed state, I disengage and “walk away” metaphorically.  What I mean is, I do not stick with it, stay engaged and try to find a creative solution or allow a solution to emerge.  In those actions, my saboteur is telling me, “You’re not good enough”, “What’s wrong with you?”, “You’ll never be good at this!” or “You should give up!”

With some things, I can engage with the wall easily: creating workshop material, cooking a new meal, taking on a new project.  I adapted well to lockdown and I think I faced the challenge of my Mother’s death well in 2020.  So, why can I face challenges in some situations, but not in others?  Well, usually, it means my saboteur has a script it’s telling me.  That script keeps me stuck because the saboteur’s words take me to inaction, disengagement and contraction.  My saboteur’s favourite day is Groundhog Day.  The fight or flight takes me away from the challenge so that it can’t get better.  This is the source of the Groundhog Day experience.

What sort of situations does your saboteur speak up?

Do you recognise some of the expressions your saboteur uses to keep you stuck?

Can you see the pattern that leads to your Groundhog Day experience?

Engaging with your Groundhog Day experience

Deciding to engage with that wall, in spite of my temptation to run away, was the turning point for me. Facing it with compassion and self-care.  Not giving myself a hard time and being cruel, harsh and abusive to myself for wanting to walk away made a huge difference.  That harshness is understandable.  It’s the habit I had practiced.  And now I wanted to practice something different.

A little tenderness calms the nervous system which makes me more inclined to want to interact with the wall.  With that tenderness and compassion, I feel better able to stay engaged. I don’t have to get it right straight away.  I might want to, but realistically, it’s going to take a while to overcome the habits of the past.

I have some momentum going in a particular direction, say about marketing or money.  Mindsets that are unhelpful.  It takes a bit of time to slow that momentum down and then change direction towards attitudes that are helpful and healthy.  For me, that momentum piece has been really useful to understand.  Habits take time to change.  My saboteur is advocating for the old direction which leads to remaining stuck.

Can you notice that in yourself?

But, if I can notice that habit, I can empower the part of myself that advocates in the opposite direction.  I call that part of myself Sovereign.  I don’t want to be a tyrant to myself.  I can use compassion and patience to turn the tide.  And so can you.

Using compassion, self-care and patience

Rather than freeze, or step away from the wall, I decide to step into it.  A hand, an arm, I immerse myself as much as I feel ready and able to.  By controlling how much or little you engage with it, you can control how challenged you feel by it.  If you can find your sweet spot for each challenge, then you can move away from overwhelming fear and towards a sense of discovery, curiosity, excitement, adventure and growth.  Doing so with compassion, self-care and patience has made such a difference to how I engage with my challenges.  And so, I find I have less and less Groundhog Day moments.

Awareness and Choice

So, when I hear a client give themselves a hard time about their Groundhog Day experiences, I invite them to approach them with patience and compassion.  What would be the self-care piece that could make the difference and allow you to engage with this effectively rather than fall into your default patterns of behaviour?  Slowing down, taking time to notice what you are feeling and being deliberate about what action you are going to take that feels manageable and sustainable.  Once you make that shift, those Groundhog Days are over.

Pass it On

What are you taking away from this article?  Which friends, family members or colleagues would you share your take away with?  Would they benefit from reading it too?  If so, please send them the link and show them that you care about how they walk in the world.  Thank you.

Have you had enough of your Groundhog Day?

If so, find out how I can support you today.