Overcoming mental blocks
If you’ve never felt stuck because of a mental block, you’re in a lucky minority. Whether feeling stuck in a career, unfulfilled by relationships or discontent with the day-to-day, most people at some point have hit a plateau.
Feeling trapped in a mental block is extremely frustrating and can impact your professional life and personal relationships. Many factors can cause you to feel blocked in your thinking, from overanalyzing everything to overloading your plate with too many responsibilities. When you’re stalled by your own mindset, understanding how to get over a mental block can help you finally make progress.
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What is a mental block?
It depends on who you ask. “Mental block” is a layman’s term encompassing a range of experiences related to feeling obstructed in one’s thinking. Depending on who you ask, you might hear terms like “mental fatigue” used instead – especially by medical professionals, who use it to describe a condition caused by prolonged cognitive activity. Merriam Webster’s dictionary delineates related terms like “brain fog,” “writer’s block” and “stumbling block” to describe varying states of diminished mental capacity.
All mental blocks feature the same conundrum: an inability to concentrate, think or reason clearly, resulting in a lack of drive. Forbes reports that unchecked mental fatigue can even impact your physical health. If you don’t learn how to get over a mental block, it can truly derail your productivity and sense of contentment with life.
What causes mental blocks?
No matter what you call them, all mind blocks are ultimately caused by the same thing: limiting beliefs. Here are a few common types of mental blocks that are actually limiting beliefs in disguise:
Need for certainty
Certainty is one of our Six Human Needs. A little bit of it is essential to living a comfortable and fulfilling life. But many people let certainty rule their lives, instead of complementing it. Sometimes all it takes to get over a mental block is to get out of your comfort zone and allow yourself to feel that excitement and anxiety that comes from doing something new – and mastering it.
If you believe that everything you do must be perfect, it’s easy to fall into the trap of mental blocks. You get stuck in a pattern of perfection where nothing is ever good enough – and therefore nothing is ever done. You can even reach the point where you don’t bother to start a task because you think, “What’s the point? It won’t be perfect.” But as Tony Robbins says, “Perfection is the lowest standard in the world.” It is always better to keep moving, let yourself fail and learn a lesson.
A deep belief in yourself is the single best predictor of success – not money or luck. That’s because we become what we believe we are. If you believe you’re not skilled enough, not smart enough, not deserving of success or any number of other negative beliefs, that becomes your reality. Instead you must adopt a growth mindset – a belief that you can do anything you set your mind to.
How to get over a mental block
The most effective strategies for how to get rid of mental blocks focus on the root of what keeps people stuck.
1. Identify your mental block
Mental blocks often masquerade as things they’re not: writer’s block, lack of inspiration, inability to innovate, lack of creativity and more. To overcome them, you must learn how to identify mental blocks and the limiting beliefs that underlie them. Are you letting your Six Human Needs or a fixed mindset hold you back? Did something happen that caused you to lose faith in yourself? Identifying the root cause of your mental block and rebuilding your confidence is the first step to being productive once again.
2. Take control of your state
Understanding how to get over a mental block is much like overcoming a plateau – those places in life where the mind, body and emotions grind to a standstill. To regain your momentum, harmonize your mind and body to reach your peak state. Oftentimes a little activity is all that’s needed to break through a mental block. Your state is ultimately the framework you operate out of in life, so use it to your advantage to unblock your thinking.
3. Focus on the present
If you’re experiencing a mind block, chances are there is something bothering you from the past. Other times it may be a concern about the future that’s causing you to become preoccupied and blocked in your thinking. To gain some traction, take a few minutes to sit and think about the present moment. Focus on your breathing until your mind becomes calm. From this peaceful state, you’re able to think more clearly and find proactive problem-solving strategies.
4. Recognize the signs of a breakthrough
As you work to master how to overcome mental blocks, it helps to recognize the signs of a breakthrough. As unlikely as it sounds, the more frustrated you feel, the closer your breakthrough is. You may feel a vague sensation of discontentment with life, like you’re reaching your limit and something needs to give. You may have already reached the point of feeling fed up, like you’ve had enough. Realize that these feelings are normal as people grow and evolve to overcome obstacles in their lives. These feelings signal your breakthrough around the corner.
5. Reprogram your mind
To take the first step in understanding how to get over a mental block, all you have to do is decide to reprogram your mind. With that decision in place, you have the focus you need to develop a sense of mindfulness. Write down exactly what you’re thinking and feeling. When self-limiting beliefs come up, practice replacing them with empowering beliefs. Visualize where you want to go, and surround yourself with people and an environment conducive to clarity.
6. Calm your environment
When your environment is cluttered or uninspiring, learning how to overcome mental blocks becomes all the more difficult. Your environment is more than just your physical surroundings – it also encompasses the sounds, people and activities that surround you in your day-to-day life. If you’re overworked with too many responsibilities on your plate, you’ll have a hard time working up the extra energy necessary to overcome a mind block.
The same is true if you’re not getting enough sleep or if you hold yourself to impossible standards. To beat mental exhaustion, stay organized and set realistic expectations of yourself and others. Rethink how you spend your energy and create a schedule you thrive on. If you’re taking on too much work, learn to delegate and adjust your workplace operations for optimal efficiency. By taking control of your environment, you’ll be able to make massive progress on how to get over a mental block.
Overcome your mental block today
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