Dialing Out

There are times, and this might be one for you, where focusing on the present moment or a specific element of the present moment is too stressful. In these times, when we need to zoom out and look at the bigger picture, it is important to acknowledge that and take action to apply coping tools.  

Our brains can occasionally get stuck on a repetitive or specific piece of our environment – A normal and natural for a survival response in a crisis. When this stuckness becomes negatively impactful to our psychological functioning (i.e. sleep disturbance, appetite disturbance, time management, challenged relationships), we need to pivot rather than stay the same course.

When we feel perseverative, obsessed, stuck, or ruminative (no matter what it is on) we must refocus and zoom out to the larger picture. 

This advice might seem contrary to what I usually recommend (stay in the present moment). Try shifting your timeline to focus on future time whether that be a week, month, or year out. Zooming out and becoming future-oriented can be a useful tool when we are stuck.

Some specific tools for becoming unstuck:

Thought stopping

Pausing a returning thought and replacing it with a practiced thought


Adjusting beliefs to see the positive elements in challenges


Look forward/fantasizing to those elements of experience you are looking forward to


Sometimes we need to pause and breath in order to zoom out


Sometimes we need to “put away” the thing that we keep sticking on.  When it comes up we store it

Being in the body

Sometimes we need to return to our sensory experience to reduce fixation on our thoughts

The stuck on specific is not the healthy version of “taking one thing at a time” and we can do something about this experience.  Our thinking that is stuck often increases more thinking that is stuck.  There are tools that will help but we have to acknowledge our pattern and then decide we are going to jump out of the rut.

  • Allow yourself to not be present in the present moment sometimes.  It is no way to live all of the time, but it is a way to be some of the time.
  • Give permission to acknowledge that you are stuck and that you need to unstick to feel better.
  • Give yourself time away from the thing that is bothering you the most, it will still be there if you need to go back to it.
  • Realize that time to dream will give you more time to be productive and effective at problem solving when you return back to it.  

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