Feeling unstuck in your life and not sure what to do? Coach, author and wellness expert Shira Gura has developed two methods, including the unSTUCK Method, to help you get clarity and reach your goals. You CAN overcome negative thoughts and stop dwelling on the past, and be better prepared for the future.
What You’ll Hear
- [01:41] About Shira and her background
- [02:41] Why Shira became an entrepreneur
- [05:03] How to make dreams a reality
- [09:04] How to recognise negative habits
- [14:58] Leveraging the UnSTUCK Method to cope with anxiety
- [16:45] Shira’s tips for public speaking
- [20:08] How the CLEAR Way tool works
- [25:30] How the UnSTUCK tool works
- [37:12] The most interesting place Shira has visited
- [37:45] Shira’s final tips
About Shira and her Background
Shira is originally from New Jersey and is married with four kids. She studied psychology and occupational therapy, is a yoga teacher and has studied mindfulness and meditation.
She brought together all of her experiences and education together and combined it into what she does today. As a coach, she works with people individually and in groups, and coaches people in the healing profession – therapists, counsellors and other coaches to help their clients get unstuck.
In this podcast, I spoke to Shira Gura. Shira is an award-winning author and expert on emotional health and well-being with over two decades of experience in the wellness field.
She is the creator of two ground-breaking self-help tools, the unSTUCK Method® and The CLEAR Way® that help people manage their minds and their emotions.
Shira is also the author of the books, ‘Getting unSTUCK: Five Simple Steps to Emotional Well-Being’ (which was awarded winner of the 2017 International Book Award in self-help) and ‘The CLEAR Way: Five Simple Steps to be Mentally Prepared for Anything’.
Shira also hosts her weekly podcast, ‘Getting unSTUCK and Living Deliberately’. Through her coaching, groups, and coach training programme, Shira guides people to get in their driver’s seat of their lives and create the lives they truly want to live.
Why Shira Became an Entrepreneur
Shira says her route is atypical to that of most entrepreneurs – she came into it via her own development. A decade ago, she was feeling stuck in both her personal and her professional life, and didn’t feel that she had the tools to effectively become unstuck.
She did a lot of writing and self-reflection, and out of that came a tool that she calls the unSTUCK Method. It was so effective that she found she was using it multiple times a day, in all aspects of her life, big and small.
She was becoming a new person, and started sharing the method with friends. Then, she invited a group to learn how to use the method too, and it evolved from there. Now, she has coaching clients, a retreat, books and speaking opportunities.
How to Make Dreams a Reality
Shira says how you feel is all in the mind and she has tools which help her get from A to Z, which she shares with her clients. The main thing is to realise that you might be stuck; so many people are stuck but don’t realise it.
For example, people might want to make more money, but have beliefs that they keep reaffirming in themselves that are holding them back: “I can’t make more money”, “I’m not smart enough” or “I’m not worth it.” The lower brain sends out those thoughts and they keep believing them.
The first thing to do is to get unstuck according to the unSTUCK Method, because you can’t move forward if there’s a belief that’s holding you back. Next, get mentally prepared to move forward, using a tool Shira came up with called ‘The CLEAR Way’. Notice your expectations and take full responsibility for who you want to be.
To go from the dream to reality, Shira tells people: “Don’t start from a place of wanting, because it’s very ineffective to tell yourself you need something to make you happy or successful or feel fulfilled. Don’t start from a place of lack.”
Instead, Shira encourages people to focus on who they are being. Notice if you’re being pessimistic and someone who doesn’t think they can change. Changing that first is the key to long-lasting change.
It’s also a good idea to get a coach, because we all have blind spots, and it’s often hard to see where exactly we’re stuck – we’re too inside our own stories. A coach can help you see things differently.
How to Recognise Negative Habits
Awareness is key, says Shira. It’s half the battle, and you have to be self-aware to make changes. Meditation or sitting quietly for a few minutes every day are good ways to become self-aware, as is journaling. That allows you to download your thoughts and examine them.
Getting a coach can help you to become self-aware, or if you’re feeling negative, try the unSTUCK Method to understand the root of your negativity. It’s not enough to choose a different thought or say, ‘I want to be more positive.’
Recognise the thought that you’re attached to and is causing you to feel negative. The reason people get stuck in the first place is because of the thought. Then, do some self-enquiry and see if what you’re thinking is 100% true. Most of what we think isn’t true. It’s work, but you have to do it.
However, while becoming self-aware requires you to put in an effort, it doesn’t have to feel like work. When you get up in the morning and wash your face and brush your teeth, you don’t see that as work. It’s just something that you do, a part of your life that has to be done.
Shira says to be proactive with your approach. She reflects every morning and does journaling at night to assess how her day was, and sees it as fun. If you want to be healthy, whether that’s physically or mentally, it’s work, but it shouldn’t feel like it.
It’s important to do this no matter how busy your life is, and Shira recommends scheduling in me-time, to do this reflection but also to have fun. If you don’t schedule it, it’s unlikely to happen spontaneously, and you won’t do it as often as you should.
Leveraging the unSTUCK Method to Cope with Anxiety
The unSTUCK Method takes a proactive approach, says Shira. Don’t wait for the anxiety to become unmanageable, but try to do a little bit every day. For instance, her morning routine starts with taking care of her mind and making sure she’s not stuck on something that’s already happened.
She says she gets unstuck, gets clear and commits to who it is she wants to be. She takes full responsibility for her day, and she does that every single day. Everybody has a little bit of anxiety, but you need a tool to depend upon that will help you get through it without it getting control of you.
Shira’s Tips for Public Speaking
Having the jitters before public speaking is totally normal, and happens to everyone, but it shouldn’t hold you back. Any time Shira has a speaking engagement, she uses her ‘CLEAR Way Method.’
The ‘unSTUCK Method’ is about dealing with something that’s already happened, but to get mentally prepared for something in the future that’s a complete unknown, the ‘CLEAR Way Method’ helps you be prepared.
You have to uncover your expectations and accept the worst possible outcome, so you’re prepared for it ahead of time. And, the tool helps you take responsibility for who you’re being. You’re practising the creation of new thoughts and to retrain your brain to think positively rather than negativity.
“Your thoughts create your emotions, and your emotions create your actions; your actions create the results you end up seeing in your life. If you want to have a different result, you need to have the right thoughts in your mind. You need to be the person who’s going to deliver the speech you want.”
How the CLEAR Way Tool Works
Shira explains the CLEAR Way Method first, using her appearance on my show as an example. ‘C’ is for ‘calm’ – you take a few breaths and become mindful and in the present.
‘L’ is for ‘lighten’. When we’re thinking about something that’s going to happen in the future, we have heavy thoughts, such as worrying that we’ll mess up, sound stupid or not answer questions. Everybody has these thoughts, and we tend to believe them.
The next step is about lightening your language so you stay in a place of curiosity rather than a place of knowing. Instead of thinking, “I’m going to mess up”, lighten it by saying, “I might mess up, but I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.”
‘E’ stands for ‘expect’ and it’s about uncovering a thought you might not be aware of – what do you wish or hope for? For example, “I hope that this interview goes smoothly and I don’t mess up.” You need to do a bit of digging to find that thought.
‘A’ is for ‘accept’, and we have to consider that the opposite of what we want might happen instead. Of course, we don’t want that, but we think about it so that if it does happen, we won’t get stuck. We’ve accepted it in advance and that calms us.
‘R’ stands for ‘responsibility’ and that’s committing to who you want to be. It’s not about the actions you might take, it’s about who you’re being in your essence. In the context of the podcast, you’re committing to being a confident interviewee.
You may not feel like the most confident person in the world, but you’re committing to trying it and stepping into the shoes of someone who’s confident. Then, throughout the podcast interview, how you want to feel stays with you.
Write down words that relate to how you want to feel – e.g. ‘confident’ or ‘focused’ – and have them as a visual reminder in that future moment you’re feeling uncertain about. You’re committing to feeling more confident or whatever it is.
How the unSTUCK Tool Works
The unSTUCK Method relates to things that happened in the past. Shira uses the podcast interview as an example again, but this time as a previous event, and one that didn’t go well.
“Let’s say I bombed it, and when it’s finished, I’m kicking myself for being unprepared or making a mistake.” Having those thoughts could keep you in a stuck position forever. Until you get unstuck, you’re going to hold on to those feelings of guilt and shame.
If you wouldn’t describe yourself as ‘stuck’, it’s helpful to think of it as the negative chatter we all experience from time to time or when you’re hijacked by your emotions. If you’re not feeling calm and peaceful, you’re probably stuck, even if you don’t realise it. It can even be boredom that you’re feeling.
If you’re thinking constantly about the interview and feeling that it didn’t go well, it’s important to remember that that’s your perception of it. It’s the story in your head, not the one that the rest of the world sees. Before you do anything else, you have to be aware that you’re stuck and don’t blame others.
‘S’ is for ‘stop’. Bring your mind out of the past and into the present. Be mindful and take some breaths. Ground yourself in the here and now, just as with the CLEAR Way Method.
‘T’ is for ‘tell’; it lets you access your emotions. Maybe you’re feeling disappointed in yourself, and that’s what you tell yourself. Instead, change your language slightly. Don’t say “I’m disappointed” but say “I’m stuck on disappointment.” That tricks the mind to recognise that just as you can get stuck on disappointment, you can get unstuck on it.
Being disappointed is not who you are. It’s temporary and you’re not disappointed all the time. We’re accessing and naming the emotion, and the most important thing is to allow yourself to feel it.
Difficult emotions don’t feel good and people don’t like to feel them. So, we either resist the emotion and try not to feel it, or we numb ourselves. We turn to something, and addiction – food, drinking or smoking – to stop us feeling it.
The problem is, when you stop doing that distracting activity, you still feel the emotion. It didn’t go anywhere because you didn’t do anything with it. The most important thing is to give yourself time to feel it through completely and be done with the emotion instead of ignoring it.
‘U’ is for ‘uncover’, and this is where we access our thoughts. We’re asking ourselves why we’re feeling whatever it is we’re feeling. This is so important, because it’s the source of the stuck part. If you can get to the root of it, you’ll be able to get unstuck, but it takes honesty.
For instance, if you’re feeling disappointed, as in the podcast guest example, you might be thinking, “I believe I did terribly and it should have gone differently.” “I believe I sounded stupid.”
Then, you have to do some investigation and ask yourself honestly, step by step, is that 100% true? Could I prove that in a court of law and everyone in the world will agree? Those are just your thoughts and you can’t prove them.
Once you start to recognise that they’re not true, the huge story you had at the beginning that seemed so strong and right starts to deflate into nothingness. You’ve poked those beliefs and you see the holes in the story.
You see that it’s not true, or not 100%, and that opens up a window of opportunity for you to look at your story differently. That moves you to the next step.
‘C’ stands for ‘consider’ and it’s where you start to stretch your brain – Shira likens it to yoga in your mind. You’re trying to see what else you can consider and how you can look at your situation differently.
Maybe you start to think, “I did a fine job” or “I did the best that I possibly could.” You could consider “This is just one podcast of many that I’m being interviewed on” or you could ask the host what they think. There are so many ways to look at a situation that you don’t see at the beginning. This is the point where you start to get unstuck.
The final step is ‘K’ for ‘kindness’, and this is where you hold yourself in self-compassion. When you get stuck you can get stuck again, because you feel guilt and shame for having got stuck in the first place.
Instead of going down another stuck route of self-hatred and disappointment, be kind to yourself. Shira says: “When I do this, I literally put my hands together and put them over my heart and say, ‘Shira, you’re ok. You got stuck and it happens to everyone. Tomorrow is a new day.’” Use the unSTUCK Method to get unstuck.
The Most Interesting Place Shira has Visited
Shira chose Petra in Jordan, explaining that she went there as soon as Israel and Jordan made a peace agreement. She found it fascinating and beautiful.
Shira’s Final Tips
If you’re feeling really stuck, like you’re in a hole and you can’t get out, Shira says: “Change is always possible. All of us can become more self-aware and unlearn thoughts that we’ve been holding on to for a long time.
We can learn new thoughts. No matter what your situation is, I believe in you and that change is possible. It’s just a matter of taking the steps forward to make that change, however you do that.
If you can just have the thought that whatever change you want to make is a possibility, that’s a huge opening for you to start making that change.”
Visit Shira’s website, or grab a copy of her books about her methodologies:
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