Riding the train into work faced with a detour as one of the station in my path had been hit by a power outage. The trio of teenage girls behind me that kept bumping into me as they couldn’t seem to keep their balance in the sardine can. And the guy I had to move away (as far away) from (as possible) because he reeked of urine — at least I think it was urine…
There’s gotta be an easier way than this…
But then you have the boxes that’re harder to see — such as keeping people around us who bring us down rather than propel us forward in life. Or perhaps feeling stuck in a job that we don’t love despite our efforts to find new employment. There’re always boxes — the trick to being in control of your life is knowing how to think outside of them.
A box is anything that can be used to contain something else. In the context of our lives, this could be our freedoms, our creativity, our opinions and thoughts — we can be contained in just about any way conceivable. and there’re enough people out there who’ll box us in — knowingly or unknowingly — so we must be able to identify these boxes before they trap us in, the lid sealing shut behind us.
HOW TO TELL IF YOU’RE TRAPPED IN A BOX
- Do you feel constantly frustrated with life?
- Are you often tired or dispassionate?
- Are you unable to see a bright future for yourself?
- Have you tried to do something multiple times, only to have it fail on each and and every attempt?
- Is your first mode of communication usually sarcasm?
- Do you often envy others rather than be happy for their successes?
If any of these sound like you, you’re very likely trapped in a box.
So if you’re in a box that you don’t want to be in, what do you do?
HOW TO BREAK OUT FROM BOXES IN 5 EASY STEPS
1: Recognize the bounds of the box that’s trapped you
Like any good recovery program in rehab, you can’t escape the box if you don’t know what it looks like. You’ll need to think long and hard on this — the boxes of which we speak do not have a physical location, and boxes can contain other lesser boxes.
Going back to that job example, if you’re constantly getting turned down for promotions, you might be quick to blame it on a rotten, unfair work culture. Maybe that’s true. But what might be a bigger problem may be something about you that’s turning potential employers off. Maybe an attitude toward work or a cockiness that presents itself in interviews. The work culture would only be a smaller box within the box of your personal problems.
2: Tell yourself what you plan to do to escape the box
Now that you can “see” the box, it’s time to plan how to escape it. The best way to destroy a box of unknown size is to fill it with something that you know for sure is bigger than any box could be. If you haven’t guessed what it is, it’s your hopes. Your dreams. Your ambitions. When you were a kid, you convinced yourself that absolutely anything was possible. It’s time again to access that inner child so they can help you out of this mess you’ve gotten yourself into. Dare to dream with the hope to be free!
This right here is most people’s stumbling block — acting on all the ideas they’ve thought up of what their ideal life looks like. We’re afraid to take risks. Frightened of uncertainty. Worried about the impacts that our actions will have. In the Bible, God tells us not to worry, because he’s got our backs, so we should do the good things we plan to do without stressing over failure. (Yes, I’m paraphrasing.) Even if you’re not Christian, I’d suggest worrying less about the good ideas you have and just do them. If your plan doesn’t
- take the food out of someone else’s mouth
- put anyone in the way of harm, or
- put you in danger of winding up in the slammer
then you at least owe it to yourself to try. And if you do fail, the regret of never having tried is one less regret you can bear on your shoulders!
4: Learn your lesson!
I’m sure we’ve all experienced this at one time — getting something done, thinking that you’ve gotten it out of the way, only to have it come back and haunt you down the road. Much of the time this is because there was a lesson to be learned and it didn’t sink in — so, you wound up making the same mistakes all over again! You need to learn well from all that you had to do to make your way out of the box, and promise yourself that you won’t make the same mistakes twice. Once you know the trick to avoiding being your own worst enemy, it becomes far easier to apply the same thinking to defeating other challenges that may pop up in life!
5: Show others the way!
But figuring your own way out of the box isn’t enough — so many people across the globe are trapped in boxes; they’re constantly trying to find their way out to make themselves whole. To make themselves better. To make themselves happy. If you’ve found a way out, I’d argue that it’s your responsibility to help others do the same. If we can all get out of our boxes and figure out what it is that we’re actually supposed to do with our lives, I figure the world will be overall better for it.
So the next time you feel like you can’t breathe; the next time you feel like the walls are closing in and you don’t know what to do, heed these words, because it’s very likely that they are. Remember the five steps, and remember that you can beat the box. Because no matter how you seal it, what goes in can always come out.
–Casey E. Palmer