Stuck on Repeat

You know the sound of a broken record? When a song plays only the same part over and over? 

Sometimes the same thing happens to us.

When rituals and rhythms become routines, 

Words that were once spoken with deliberate intention are repeated as mindless scripts,

We go through the motions, bracing ourselves for the imagined "inevitable." 

We go from being in a groove to being unable to move.

We get stuck on repeat. 

Maybe you're like me. 

Maybe you imagine the world, at times, and the life you inhabit more specifically, to be fixed. The considerations you have for what others think, the consequences for what happens if you try to make a change, and a feeling of being "stuck" where you are in whatever you're doing. If I can't change life, then why try? If I have no other options, then I'm stuck. I may as well grin and bear it. But when we live out of this "stuckness," our smile loses its sparkle. The shine in our eyes is dimmed. The expression of ourselves is dialed back, and we retreat into mediocrity. Maybe your "average" still looks really awesome compared to a lot of people, all the while you are unsettled by how things just feel... off. Your song isn't playing and continuing as it should, and you may not even know how you got here. 

It's easy to get annoyed at a perceived lack of progress than stopping and listening to our lives. It is easy to heap judgment and shame on myself and others instead of observing and learning, with an open heart and open hands. Yet the opportunity to do so remains. 

Being frustrated at a record playing on repeat doesn't change it. Whatever I feel about myself and my situation, let those feelings settle. Now is the time for questioning.

  • What is my heart saying in all this?
  • What is my body telling me?
  • What patterns are showing up in my life right now?
  • How can this be a mirror to reveal who and how I am being? 
  • What is making me uncomfortable?
  • What am I avoiding?
  • What are the fears to which am I present?

When I take a fresh look at the situation, I see how much of my life (the record playing) is sustained by me.  I see things as stuck, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whatever it is that I'm avoiding or reacting to is continually avoided and reacted to in the same manner, instead of allowing for a conflict within and a conversation or action without. If I keep inhabiting the same shoes, the same song, I will run and play the same way. 

It can feel like we are "keeping the peace" with ourselves and with others when we inhabit life this way, but that is an illusion. More likely, we are driving ourselves mad and driving a wedge between ourselves and others. Seeing our pattern is a good start, it allows us to choose differently. Where we have been consistently inauthentic with ourselves, we will begin to become so for others. Where we have hidden out of shame or guilt, we will live out of the imprints we left on our psyche. 

What I'm finding is that to get unstuck, we have to stop playing, even if only for a moment. 

If I do not stop and question my actions and reactions, I will do what I have programmed myself to do. If I do not create space of silence in my heart and mind, I'll have the perpetual noise that was there before. If I continue to avoid instead of address the challenging aspects of my life, they will still be there waiting for me. 

Pause. Examine. Reset. Push play. 

You'll probably still have moments of running through your old programming. You may even have a life that looks the same on the outside even when your internal song and posture is different. If you've been on repeat for a while, interrupting the pattern will take consistent practice, and it starts here and now. 

The world isn't static. You aren't static. 

The song of your life may involve rhythms, rituals, and repetition; so let us be mindful what we choose. 

We put on the record and we push play. We choose how to listen and what to say. 

When it comes to the song of your life, you are only stuck where you agree to be. 

So whatever brought you here, whatever was before... It happened. Today's a new day. This moment is a new moment. Let's shake things up, take a different tack, try a new approach. What is working in your rhythms and rituals, let it play. What isn't working? Let's make space for something new. Maybe you can't shut off your brain, but you can direct it. 

If you've been stuck on repeat, it's okay. Try your hand at the turntable of your life with fresh perspective.