Interview: Dr. Colleen Cira, Psy.D. on great advice for people who don’t feel excited about their lives.
The feeling of being “okay” or hitting a plateau in your life is something that everyone experiences, but can be taken any number of different ways, but it typically goes in a really positive direction or a more negative one. If folks are able to be more in the moment and accept the plateau for what it is (likely temporary, possibly a break from chaos/drama/business, etc), then it has the potential to be really enjoyable.
Quiet moments in your life can turn into something more exciting and positive
- If nothing is on fire in your life—if you’re not actively climbing the ladder at work or actively trying to save your marriage—then that means you have a lot of energy to spend in other ways.
- This is a lovely time to deepen your gratitude for what you’ve accomplished/experienced and take a moment to enjoy it.
- You can also use this extra time and energy to dream about the future. What does your next chapter look like? What’s important to you? Where/how do you want to spend your energy? A plateau frees up time and energy that you can use to reflect and dream—things that we’re not able to do when we’re too busy or stuck in the grind.
Why it can lead to feeling not okay even when everything is actually fine
- On the other hand, hitting a plateau can feel like a failure to some people. For those of us who have a difficult time relaxing and constantly need a problem to solve or a project to work on, hitting a plateau can come with a lot of anxiety. We might feel like we’re missing something or certainly there’s more to do. We might feel “unproductive” or “lazy” if we’re taking some time to just BE.
- Hitting a plateau creates more time and energy for us since we don’t need to be running around putting out fires. But if we’re not deliberate about how we use that time and/or if we’re prone to anxiety or sadness, that vacuum in our mind can easily be filled with unhelpful thoughts. We may create problems that aren’t there, worry about things in the future or ruminate about things in the past.
What to do to identify why you’re feeling that way and how to cope
- If you’re starting to feel unsettled or unhappy, it can be helpful to take some time to reflect. Have there been any major changes in your life (like hitting a plateau)? Has anything exceptionally difficult happened recently? Have you hit a plateau in your life and haven’t been using the extra time and energy in a way that serves you?
- Once you have an idea of where the discontent is coming from, only then can you start to do something about it.
Here are some helpful tips:
- Think about your priorities. Treating everything like it’s your #1 priority will always lead to discontentment. Figure out what your top 3–5 priorities are and then make choices that align with those values.
- Be more in the moment. Starting a practice of meditation or mindfulness in order to be more present in your life has been proven over and over again to improve mood and well-being. Download Calm or Insight apps and harness the power of the now.
- Check in with yourself more often. Do you know what your brain is saying to you at any given time? Do you know when you’re experiencing emotions? If so, can you articulate them. Research is clear that the more we’re able to know ourselves and then express what we figure out, the happier we are.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do, you still feel off and can’t seem to make it better. There is no shame in seeking out a therapist to help you work through this difficult chapter of your life.
Available for Interviews: Dr. Colleen Cira, Psy.D.
Dr. Colleen Cira received both her Masters and Doctorate from The Illinois School of Professional Psychology and is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the State of Illinois. She’s the Founder and Executive Director of Cira Center for Behavioral Health, PC, a boutique group practice specializing in Women and Trauma with locations in Chicago and Oak Park.
She was named one of the “Top 100 Women in Chicago Making a Difference,” by Today’s Chicago Woman. Dr. Cira is a trauma and anxiety expert, clinical supervisor, writer, speaker, consultant, activist, wife, and Mommy to two little ones.
PR Managing Editor
Success In Media, Inc.