Bishop T. D. Jakes is founder and senior pastor of the legendary 30,000-member Dallas-based church, The Potter’s House. Named by Time magazine as “America’s Best Preacher,” Bishop Jakes’ message of healing and restoration is unparalleled, transcending cultural and denominational barriers within the church and beyond.
How to Get out of an Emotional Rut
Below is an insightful post from my good friend, the Bishop T.D. Jakes. Bishop Jakes pastors a mega church in Dallas, Texas with a congregation in excess of 30,000. He carries his message around the globe, and in fact, a live audience of more than 1,000,000 people recently turned out to hear him speak in Kenya. He is a husband, father and all around good guy!
From relationships to the economy, there are many circumstances in life that can drive a person into what is called an emotional rut. An emotional rut can occur when we allow our emotional state to be driven by our circumstances causing us to get stuck in an unhealthy, fluctuating emotional state of mind. One moment we are happy, then sad, angry or overwhelmed. Granted, these are natural emotions that affect everyone. However, if left unchecked, we allow manageable emotions to be controlled by uncontrollable circumstances.
I can remember one evening long ago when I was driving down the road and as I approached the turn, my car slid on loose gravel, went out of control and ended up on the side of the road. Still startled by this uncontrollable ride that I had just experienced, I attempted to get back on the main road. After accelerating a few times, I soon realized that my car was stuck in a rut. I tried everything I could to get out. I spun my tires forward and backward and soon realized that the rut I was stuck in was only getting deeper. I wanted to get out, but there I was — stuck.
In hindsight, I realized that there were four critical steps I followed to get out of the rut and back on to the safety of the main road. I believe that those same four steps can also guide you out of the emotional rut that has you stuck on the side of this fast-paced road of life.
Step 1: Stop spinning your wheels
When your vehicle gets stuck in a rut one of the worst things you can do is continue pressing on the gas, because your wheels begin to spin and dig your car deeper into the ground. The same advice applies when you are in an emotional rut; stop spinning your wheels. Stop doing the same things over and over that have gotten you stuck in the first place, because you will just dig yourself deeper. Instead, stop, assess the situation and admit that you are stuck.
Step 2: Signal for help
When you are stuck on the side of the road, there are two types of people that you will come across when you signal for help, those who see you need help but don’t stop or those who stop and utter one of the most comforting questions ever asked, “Do you need any help?” The same idea applies when you are in an emotional rut, signal for help. Yes, there are some people who will keep on going; however, there are those who pull off the busy road of life to say, “Do you need any help?” Understand that help can come in the form of a trusted friend or a professional counselor, but you must let someone know that you are stuck in an emotional place.
Step 3: Take the towline
One of the most effective ways to pull a car out of a rut is to use a towline from another car. A towline can be as simple as tying a rope to the base of both cars. The vehicle that is on stable, balanced ground begins to accelerate and pull the other car out of its rut. It is important to know that the car that is stuck must accelerate as well so that both cars work together. When you are in an emotional rut, accept the towline. Said another way, take the lifeline. When someone throws you a line, grab it and allow them to help pull you out.
Step 4: Carefully merge back into traffic
Once your car has been freed from the rut, accelerate slowly and carefully merge back onto the road and continue toward your destination. Also, be aware that your car might have experienced undetected damage. Similarly, when you have come out of your emotional rut, don’t jump right back into the business of life. Take your time. And, just like your car, there might be some unseen damage that has occurred on your way out of your emotional rut. So start off slowly and pay attention to the indicator on your emotional dashboard for any signs of unseen internal damage. Understand that our emotions are powerful indicators of how we are managing the complexities of life, so pay attention when your check engine light comes on.
I am pleased to say that I survived my experience and learned a valuable lesson in the process. I have learned that it is not just the large objects that obstruct our progress on the road of life, but it’s often the small unchecked gravel-like issues that can often leave us in a rut.