Emotional Wellbeing


Mental Health

Mandy Kloppers

Feeling trapped

There are ways to stop feeling trapped. It takes a bit of bravery but it’s doable. Let me explain. Often when we are feeling trapped, the perceptions comes from the way we are thinking about the situation rather than the situation itself. This is when we have to try out a few things that mental health experts refer to as ‘behavioural experiments’. Limiting self belief can massively limit and hinder our opportunities in life and we often don’t even realise that we are imposing these ‘mental prisons’ and limitations on ourselves.

Have you ever caught yourself saying, “I could never do that”, or “That would be too hard to try”? These kind of statements immediately discount a whole host of options. Often we get into a mindset where we decide ahead of time what is and isn’t possible and then we end up living within these constraints.

It’s time to throw these restraints off and try something new. One strategy is known as “Opposite Action Theory”. If you would normally assume that someone is out of your league or that you are underqualified for a job, try anyway. If you would avoid, go ahead and try – this is the basis of Opposite Action theory. You can’t expect a different result if you keep doing the same things. This is where bravery comes in. Sometimes you have to risk being vulnerable, you have to risk failure and rejection. It’s a part of life. Not getting the job or being turned by someone that you ask out on a date doesn’t mean that you are a failure. See it differently. Look at yourself as a success for being adventurous in life and trying things. To me that’s a success. The failure is the person who goes through their whole life without putting themselves out there. The person who is lying on their death bed wondering “What if…?”, I don’t ever want to be that person.

I would rather try and be rejected or feel vulnerable and know that I gave this life my best shot and went for opportunities. See life differently. See yourself as a brave and intrepid adventurer for going beyond your ‘trapped thinking’, for seeing outside the box.

If you are feeling trapped in a job or in an unhappy and unsatisfying relationship, ask yourself why you stay. No doubt you will have convinced yourself of everything that could go wrong and these fearful thoughts have kept you exactly where you are. What a waste. Don’t leap without some risk assessment, but at the same time don’t over analyse and drive yourself mad with every possible outcome.

Sometimes you have to grab the bull by the horns and just do it. See life as an exciting adventure. You will probably find you have to more to lose by staying trapped than making the move into the unknown. Change is scary for any of us, we are creatures of habit but it’s the brave person who still pushes their way through the fear.

If you can’t make the change in one go, take baby steps to start with. If you are in an unhappy job, start casually looking through other job opportunities. You don’t necessarily have to hand in your notice right now but start making steps in the direction of where you want to go. See the world as full of opportunity and they will present themselves. See yourself as trapped with no options and that will most likely be your reality. Self fulfilling prophecies are a major reason as to why we feel trapped…we turn our negative thinking into reality involuntarily.

If you are in a dead-end relationship, let that person go a little. Be more independent and try a new hobby as a way to meet new people. This may breathe new life into your realtionhsip or it may give you the confidence to break out on your own.

Life is often far more scary in our minds than it is in reality. When we think ahead and anticipate trouble it can seem overwhelming but when we are in a crisis we often just deal with it without thinking. That’s why I don’t advocate overthinking – it’s just mental torture.

See what’s possible. As Henry Ford famously said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re probably right”.

Mandy X



Photo by Christopher Windus on Unsplash

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