The rut antidote

Do you ever feel stuck?

If so, I can relate.

And perhaps this will help you – if you reflect on what I say and take it to heart. Resist the urge to simply smile and nod along, no matter how obvious this might seem.

Really think about it.

Because that’s the answer – to think.

Folks will tell you it’s easy to break a rut. Do something different. Order your coffee from somewhere else, get off the bus a stop earlier, go for a walk, read a book…

Those can be handy tactics.

But what’s the strategy behind them?

Or, if you prefer, what’s the principle?

A rut isn’t defined by your actions. The first time you went through your routine, you weren’t in a rut. And someone else – someone with a fondness for order and routine – would find that simply delightful.

So it’s all in your thinking.

Which is different from saying it’s all in your head.


A simplified view of the brain is that it seeks to think the same thoughts. What worked yesterday will probably work tomorrow, so why waste time and glucose processing inferior options?

Speed and efficiency matter. If a car hurtles towards you, milliseconds count.

Let’s call this your autopilot.

When too much of your day is on autopilot – when not enough of it invites you to think new thoughts – then you have your rut.

So… how do you think new thoughts?

Any change to your routine will do it – hence the common advice.

But what’ll really do the trick is trance.

I’ve talked about this before. When something surprises or confuses you, your brain reaches for an answer and can’t immediately find it. The next thing it does is enter a trance, to help find a deeper answer.

It sidelines conscious thinking for a moment until it has something – then the conscious mind can check it.

Again, I’m simplifying things a lot here, but this captures the gist of it.

The key lesson from all this:

Trance is excellent for thinking new thoughts, which is excellent for breaking ruts.

“Great!” one says. “I’ve heard that watching a movie puts you in a trance – I’ll do that then!”

And that can help.

Until that style of trance becomes part of your rut.

Watching one movie a month, with your full attention, is different from watching two a day while you browse memes on your phone.

Trancing on your own can sometimes become part of the rut.

Having someone guide you through a trance, though?

All of a sudden, we have something dynamic, responsive, engaging and chaotic.

I’m not saying my Neural Reset will never get repetitive… but the moment it starts to, I can change up what I’m doing and give you a fresh experience.

And isn’t a fresh experience what it’s all about?

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