Taking the blinders off

November 28, 2016
Kimberly Wilson on tunnel vision

In our Reader Stories series, Unstuck readers share personal stories about getting stuck — and unstuck. Here, writer, psychotherapist, entrepreneur, animal rights activist and yoga teacher Kimberly Wilson talks about feeling stuck as a Tunnel Visionary.

I find myself daily sitting at a desk surrounded by books on writing and Moleskines filled with ideas. There’s also a pile of study materials for an upcoming licensing exam and a nearby shelf overflowing with business books. The feeling of stuckness permeates, so I recently worked through the Unstuck app and was diagnosed as being stuck in this moment as a Tunnel Visionary — blinded to possibilities outside my direct line of sight.

For someone with an entrepreneurial spirit and zest for making things happen who tends to operate with a five-year plan in hand, the future feels cloudy at the moment — out of focus. I’m studying a new writing genre and feel frozen in my own process. I’m honoring the 17-year birthday of my business and unsure what it needs next to thrive. I’m passionate about my work to help animals, enrolled in a veterinary social work program, and dreaming of living on a farmette with a few rescue pigs, but I am unsure exactly where my activism will take me.

Apparently, stuckness is ongoing and helps lead to transformation. Charlotte Kasl, psychotherapist and author of If the Buddha Got Stuck, says:

“Getting unstuck is not a one-time endeavor because, as the moon waxes and wanes, life’s natural experiences of loss and change repeatedly challenge us to let go, shift our perceptions, and bring new ideas and plans into our lives.”

The first bit of advice that pops up after being labeled a Tunnel Visionary is to “take the blinders off and look at the world differently. Getting out of our usual space always helps widen our view. But even seeing our most familiar things in a new light can be refreshing.” This resonated.

Over the years, I’ve found escaping routine to have a positive ripple effect. A hike in Shenandoah National Park, a jaunt to another city, or a stroll through one of D.C.’s many museums proves therapeutic and helps me see an issue in new light.

Although I know the importance of shaking things up to get unstuck and have ample tools (including, ironically, many mindfulness techniques that I teach), I still find myself struggling. Maybe it’s because there are so many changes happening all at once, and so many potential directions my life could take. Or perhaps I have too much information about what others are doing — books they’re writing, businesses they’re offering, activism they’re conducting — and am stuck trying to figure out what I offer that’s different.

Could it be that I have to sit in the stuckness to gain greater appreciation for the creative flow?

As I work with this stuckness, I’ve explored Unstuck.com’s tips for Tunnel Visionaries. One encourages tuning into the emotions and sensations surrounding the stuckness. This is a grounding mindfulness practice to move out of the head, where the same thoughts are on a loop, and into the body. Another tip is to share the stuckness with someone else and have them describe it back in their own words. I recently did this and my friend honed in on a strong feeling surrounding the stuckness that I hadn’t fully identified. It was just the “Aha!” I needed.

Identifying myself as Tunnel Visionary has helped me realize the path to see the possibilities, believe in change, think about a plan, and act on these next steps. This, as is everything in life, is to be continued.

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