I was speaking to a friend recently who said that she felt trapped in her life.
I sympathized with her.
It was only recently that I was feeling the same way myself.
While I was sympathetic for my friend, the next thought that popped into my head was –
What’s your plan?
What’s your plan to stop feeling trapped?
Many of us have times in our lives when we feel trapped. Sometimes it can feel like there is no way out and no way forward.
It’s important to remember that there is always a way forward.
At the moment I am rereading the brilliant book – High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard.
(Heads up Brendon also has a new High Performance Planner out! I’ve just started using this planner yesterday and I can’t wait to report back on how it helps me. For the best results, I recommend you read High Performance Habits and then start using the planner to fast track your success.)
In the book, Brendon talks about the two human stories. Brendon writes –
There are only two narratives in the human story: struggle and progress.” – Brendon Burchard
When you feel trapped you are bogged down in the struggle. Your goal, therefore, is to progress.
To progress, you need a plan.
But first up you need clarity around why you feel trapped.
If you want to stop feeling trapped, you need to get clarity on why you feel trapped in the first place (because surprisingly enough the reason you feel trapped might not be what you think).
Which means the solution might be different to what you think it is!
To develop your plan of action, you need to get honest about WHY you feel trapped.
What is making you feel trapped and importantly what is keeping you trapped?
Unless you know the true meaning for why you feel trapped, you’ll struggle to put together an effective plan to move forward.
Important disclaimer – I am not a medical professional or trained therapist so if you are struggling with depression, severe anxiety or suspect you may have a mental illness, please consult a medical professional. Another important note, if you are in a physically abusive relationship, please reach out to a professional trained to help get you safely away from the situation.
Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Any compensation I receive does not affect the price you pay.
Let’s start with some of the overall reasons we feel trapped.
Struggling to pay everyday bills can make us feel trapped. Being bogged down in credit card debt can have the same effect.
I just finished reading an amazing money/finance book and it definitely got me changing the way I think about money.
This book is written for Australians in particular, as it relates to Australian banking and superannuation institutions, so if you are an Aussie I highly recommend picking up a copy of The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape. It’s brilliant!
Often a lot of our problems can be solved by having more financial freedom and financial security.
Not having enough money can often leave us living in places we don’t want to be, living with people we don’t want to live with and doing things we don’t want to do (horrible jobs included).
All of which can help us feel trapped.
While I am definitely not saying money fixes all problems, having financial security and money put aside for emergencies can help with a lot of problems.
Depending on your situation we might not even be talking about large sums of money. This isn’t about being rich, it’s about having enough financial freedom to make the best choices for yourself.
When you have financial freedom you can walk away from situations a lot easier, than when you feel trapped and feel that you have to stay due to your finances.
This one is huge.
Our mindset plays a huge role in whether we feel trapped in life because what we tell ourselves is what we tend to believe (even when it’s not true).
If you keep telling yourself you feel trapped and your life is a mess and nothing is ever going to change – and you can’t do anything about it – there is a good chance you may be right (particularly if you are doing nothing to bring about change).
When I say mindset, I’m not just talking about being positive. It’s a lot more than that.
I’m talking about the emotions that often keep us feeling trapped, like shame and guilt (just to name two heavy hitters).
You might feel trapped because you feel guilty about leaving someone or a particular situation.
It’s your mindset and emotions that you need to work on.
A book that can definitely help with your mindset is You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero.
I have this book myself and reread it often. If I feel myself starting to feel trapped by my emotions, I read through an appropriate chapter and it gives me a much-needed kick forward.
Once you work on your mindset, you might find that some of your problems are not as terrible as you first thought and you don’t feel as trapped (even though nothing as technically changed).
Need more personal growth and personal development help? CreativeLive have a great range of online courses that you can take at your own pace in the comfort of your own home.
Sometimes we can feel trapped by the people in our lives.
A terrible boss, a troubled family member or annoying flatmates.
This one can be a bit tricky because often it’s not the person in our lives that is making us feel trapped but the way we feel about our relationship with that person.
For instance, if you are doing something solely to keep your parents happy, but it’s making you completely miserable, your parents aren’t technically forcing you to do anything. The problem might be more connected to guilt, shame or fear of disappointing them more than something they are actually doing.
The truth is sometimes we have to disappoint people to move forward in life.
If you are living your life to make everyone else happy – you are most likely feeling trapped.
If you are in a bad relationship with a horrible person (and believe me I’ve been there), you need to get yourself out of it. It’s not easy but it’s worth it.
Again, please note if you are in a relationship that is physically abusive, you need to find help getting out of it safely and swiftly.
Hopefully, your situation won’t be as dire as the one above.
Often to free yourself from the feeling of being trapped by people, you have to set boundaries and say NO a lot more often.
Stop saying yes to everything, particularly the things you definitely do not want to do and things will start to improve.
Related post – Stop Being a People Pleaser – 6 Books That Can Help
Being unemployed made me feel trapped.
The constant rejection (or what feels like rejection), dealing with people’s interpretation of my capabilities, struggling to pay the bills, plus a lot more.
Our circumstances like being fired or dealing with a sudden illness can make us feel trapped (not to mention shocked, worried, and scared).
Sometimes there is nothing we can do about our circumstances but deal with our emotions and do our best to work through what life throws at us with as much grace and dignity as possible.
This is where our mindset can play a huge part in how trapped we feel and the actions we take.
Let’s take a look at some of the things that keep us feeling trapped.
While this is part of our mindset, it’s also worth mentioning as a separate point because feeling like a victim can be a big part of feeling trapped.
Taking on a victim mentality can keep us trapped.
This mentality can often take over when we’ve had a series of awful things happen. We lose our job, are struggling financially and suddenly a friend decides they don’t want to be our friend anymore.
Basically, a lot of things turn to crap around the same time and we feel overwhelmed. We start to feel helpless and before we know it we’ve fallen into a victim mentality.
We get all ‘poor me’, I need and deserve extra attention from people because everything in my life is going wrong.
The best way out of a victim mentality is by taking positive, focused action to move forward. I’ve written a series about breaking out of a victim mentality, so make sure you have a read through these posts if you are struggling.
Related content –
How to Break Out of a Victim Mentality – Part 1
How to Break Out of a Victim Mentality – Part 2
How to Break Out of a Victim Mentality – Part 3
It can be hard to admit to ourselves that we are feeling trapped due to our own choices.
It’s not an easy thing to come to terms with but it is important to come to terms with it to move forward.
When we are struggling to deal with our choices, we tend to blame other people for our circumstances. If you are feeling trapped and blaming others, you might want to look at some of your choices.
It’s important to point out that this isn’t an exercise in beating yourself up and making yourself feel bad about something that happened in the past.
It’s about awareness.
It’s about examining what choices have and haven’t worked.
For instance, if you have been terrible with money and got yourself into piles of debt, you need to admit to your bad money choices and work on making better choices that get you out of debt and put you in a better financial situation going forward.
You need to start paying more attention to your habits and routines.
The stuff you do regularly and consistently has a big impact on your life.
If you are watching too much television when you should be working on your goals that is a bad habit. (I use this one as an example because I was doing this myself recently).
Your bad habits can make you feel trapped.
The interesting thing about some of our bad habits is that they start out as comforting or even relaxing.
Think along the lines of comfort eating, watching television to relax or having a glass of wine to relieve stress. We often start doing these things to block out other problems in our lives or to put off thinking and dealing with the hard stuff.
In a nutshell, we use them as distraction and denial.
Then they turn into a problem or worse an addiction and we have a whole new set of problems to worry about.
What was supposed to make us feel better, suddenly makes us feel terrible and even more trapped, which is why our choices and habits are so important.
Not doing the work
I know this one might be hard to hear but sometimes we stay trapped because it feels easier.
It feels easier than doing the hard work to improve our lives.
It feels easier because it’s familiar (even when it sucks).
We sometimes stay trapped because we think that climbing out of our situation is going to be too hard.
We know it’s going to involve a lot of work. We don’t think we have the energy for it.
But it is always worth the effort and energy to dig yourself out of a hole.
Unfortunately what we often do when we feel trapped is – we dig a bigger hole for ourselves.
We dive headlong into our vices.
We don’t have enough money to pay our bills but we max out our last remaining credit card on a shopping spree because why the hell not – we owe a ton of money anyway, right?
Then we feel more trapped when the monthly bills come around.
We self-sabotage and make our lives and our feeling of being trapped so much worse.
If we want to stop feeling trapped then we need to come to terms with how we self-sabotage and get it under control.
Expecting things to change quickly
Often when we are feeling trapped we want things to change and we want them to change NOW!
But now isn’t always possible, change and growth take time.
We can sometimes be put off by the amount of time required in making a big change.
But think about the quote below –
Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in your way of doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.” – Earl Nightingale.
If you don’t start, nothing will happen and you might be in the same spot this time next year.
We can’t change our whole lives overnight but we can focus on continual progress on the things that are important.
By continual progress, I mean every day.
We can focus on making progress in the important areas of our life every day.
Not having a plan
You can’t move forward if you don’t have a plan. You need an action plan to commit to.
When it comes to our plan, our biggest mistake can be trying to change everything in our lives at the same time, which can leave us feeling overwhelmed.
When we feel overwhelmed we often abandon our plans, so it’s better to focus on a couple of key areas.
What to do when you feel trapped
From experience, one of the most important things I have learned from feeling trapped is that you have to take personal responsibility for getting your life back on track.
You have to take personal responsibility for your life.
Work out why you feel trapped. Be aware that it might not be just one thing but a combination of things that you need to work through.
Believe in yourself and know that whatever the problem – you can work through it.
Make up an action plan.
Be laser focused on implementing your plan on a daily basis.
Work on your mindset on a daily basis.
In my next post, I’m going to run through my current plan and show you how I am making progress (even though I am still dealing with everyday struggles and uncertainties).
You can stop feeling trapped. You can set yourself free. It’s time to get started!
If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends on social media.
Read Next – 10 Behaviors That Stop You Growing as a Person