Finding Inner Peace: Let’s face it, we all have periods where life feels stagnant. Although we can’t formally diagnose a rut, it definitely can be felt—and it typically doesn’t feel very good. So today, we explore some ways to help get you out of a rut and start moving towards the life you want to create and live.
Before we get into it, let’s take a second to acknowledge that life isn’t always about being ultra-productive and happy. As humans living in modern society, we tend to associate our worth with our output, making it very difficult to go through lulls of productivity, creativity, or high energy.
Taking on this societal pressure often amplifies the many wounds of unworthiness we carry from childhood. Feelings that we need to prove ourselves constantly is a never-ending quest, and until we learn that fundamentally our worth is inherent to our being— nothing we do, complete, say, or think will make us feel worthy. Instead, we replace sensations of accomplishment or achievement with “I’ll be worthy when I… *insert goal*”; from that place, we can never find sustained inner peace.
However, there are many healthy ways to help move us out of that sensation of stickiness we can get in when we aren’t moving towards the life we want to be living.
It’s the eternal dance between doing and being. Periods of creative incubation, slowing down, of rest are all needed. But, be mindful not to confuse a rut with a much-needed rest period.
Finding Inner Peace: 9 Ways
When we feel stuck in a rut, stagnancy can quickly permeate various aspects of our life. Moving your physical body can help shift the energy and breathe new life into your routine. If you are exercising, why not try moving in a new way?
You could take your workout outside, switch up your sets or reps, or flip a cardio-heavy routine into more of a strength program. The key is a change to bring newness to an environment that currently feels stuck.
Play is the art of doing things for no reason. We tend to get stuck in doing everything for a certain outcome. Sports are often done in the name of exercise instead of simply for joy. Play activates parts of our brain that help us get into a flow state.
If you find it hard to play, learn from the masters and aim to spend more time with children. Let a young person choose the play, be it imaginary, rough and tumble, or any kind of game— kids tend to know how to keep things playful without thinking twice. Bonus points if you can combine movement with play!
Like anything, how you use a tool can help or harm you. Surrounding yourself in a community can help tremendously if you feel safe to open up and share your inner world without judgment or comparison to those around you. If your peers are typically not open to connecting more vulnerably, it could reinforce your low emotions and make you feel worse off. However, if you can find the right people— community is vital to lifting our spirits.
Looking for men’s or women’s circles is a great way to connect with people who are typically very open to discussing the highs and lows of life without judgment. These spaces aren’t about advice but rather learning through the mirror of others’ experiences.
The key is consistently meeting and connecting with a group so you can continue to deepen and feel safe enough to open up. For some people, it’s going to church; for others, it’s a sports group. Community support reminds us that we are not alone, and it can be very helpful to see our beauty through the eyes of others.
Giving back to those who are less fortunate can help bring gratitude back into your life. It can be hard to feel grateful when we’re feeling stagnant. Helping others is soul medicine. It can be overwhelming to overcome our problems, but volunteering can bring a new perspective.
Volunteering in a field that you’re interested in or passionate about can also help open doors to new opportunities and relationships that can shift your energy, helping you get out of a rut.
5. Ask for Help
The more we try to do it alone, the scarier life can sometimes feel. Asking for help can be terrifying in a world where many of us are raised to think that independence and success are signs of a strong person. Still, time and time again, it becomes evident that our vulnerabilities are our biggest strengths. Watching someone speak their truth is one of the most magnetic things to experience. It’s less about what they are saying or doing and more about the fact that we need honesty to cultivate connection and trust.
We all have a friend who is always “doing amazing” despite their life crumbling behind closed doors. After a while, hearing that things are always going perfectly turns people off because we all know that life has its highs and lows. While you’re in a rut, take the opportunity to connect with the people in your life authentically. Everybody experiences challenges and part of the beauty of relating is taking turns being the pillar of strength for others when they need it.
If you don’t feel safe enough to open up to anyone in your immediate circle, consider seeking a support group, a mentor, a therapist, or even just spending more mindful time chatting with strangers. Sitting on a bench in a local park may surprise you at life’s opportunities to connect with someone new.
Freeform writing (or journalling) can be extremely cathartic in finding inner peace. Putting pen to paper without any plan and letting your thoughts out is a great way to let things out and even resolve them. When we’re too stuck in our heads, it can seem like we go in circles to no end. Putting things on paper helps our subconscious clarify things in actual sentence format. Instead of fragmented thoughts, you are allowed to describe how you feel about a certain situation.
If you really feel blocked, try using journal prompts. You can find infinite prompts online, starting with broader sweeping questions like “what am I grateful for,” which can help move darker energy. Avoiding the darkness isn’t, however, the goal. You can also try things like, “why am I sad” and lean in. We can be afraid to go into more negative emotions, but typically these places are less scary than we think. Of course, they remain scary if we avoid them, but when we lean in, we can feel more comfortable sitting in them and watching them pass.
Another cathartic writing prompt is to write a letter to someone with whom you have tension. If you think a problematic relationship is one of the reasons for your rut, try getting all your feelings out on paper. Of course, you’re not sending a letter to the person; you will probably get more out of burning the letter and releasing it than communicating directly with the person.
Although dance technically can fall into play and movement, it gets its own paragraph because it’s such a great way to find inner peace. When it comes to dance and moving energy, not all dance is created equal. Although various kinds of dance may tick the boxes for movement and play, the one that gets the gold star lives in the realms of “ecstatic dance.” There are various names for this kind of dance, but essentially this form of dance is without structure, typically done in the daytime, soberly.
Conscious forms of dance, like ecstatic dance, bring groups of people together to surrender to the music. Ideally, these spaces are free from phones and have no photographers. The purpose is to drop into your body and let it move in whatever ways feel liberating at the moment. Giving our body the wheel allows your body to process stuck emotions in real-time. Often people will find themselves crying, laughing, or in a complete flow state. Like anything, there is often a lot of resistance to getting to this place, but working through it on the dance floor will help you bring this newfound flow back into your life.
8. Finding Inner Peace: Go Somewhere New
If you’re trying to bring new energy into your life, probably the quickest tool is to go somewhere new. Try working in different environments, like a coffee shop instead of the library (or vice-versa). You could consider a weekend away, maybe it’s a week’s vacation, or maybe what you need is to pack your bags permanently and start life somewhere new.
Changing your location is not about escaping your problems but rather making an empowered choice to honor yourself. If you’ve spent many years in a place and have outgrown your old self, it can be difficult to celebrate this version of yourself if you’re still surrounded by people who are participating in your old habits. Sometimes this baby step can give enormous perspective.
9. Start Small
When we compare where we want to be to where we are, it can be overwhelming to see how much you have to do. Setting goals and having a vision for your future is great, but don’t get ahead of yourself. Focusing too much on the big-picture can feel too daunting, and we can avoid doing anything at all.
Start as small as you can fathom if you know there are things you want to do but are not doing. You may want to begin exercising 6x a week, for example. What is the smallest task associated with this goal that you can achieve today? No task is too small. You can just make your goal of the day to look at a local gym online and check out their timetable and prices—no need to go there, no need even to exercise. Breaking down the goal to where you can do it gets the ball rolling.
For some people in serious states of depression, even getting out of bed in the morning can feel like a daunting task. Remember: as small as you can achieve with zero resistance. From there, you can set your next goal. These small steps add up over time and take us much further than dreaming about the lofty out-of-reach goals, with no steps towards achieving them!
Finding Inner Peace: Summary
When you feel like your rest period has slipped into a rut, there are many ways to help move the stuck energy and breathe life back into your day-to-day. Moving your body, playing, and dancing are tangible ways to move this energy literally. Asking for help, volunteering, and spending time in a community helps mirror others’ experiences, connect, and grow out of your rut. Are you stuck? Why not try writing? Free-form writing helps bring thoughts in full form to the surface, where you can start to get more clarity. Finally, nothing moves energy like a change of scenery. Whether it’s for a day, weekend, or permanent move: pick up, and go!