What Optimistic People Do When They’re Stuck …

By Ellesse

A teacher announced to her class “We’re going to be the most improved class of the month!”.
The students looked at her bewildered, “But, Teacher, we’re the worst performing class in the whole school for the past few months! It’s going to be difficult… ” They sighed, lowering their heads at the same time.

“Let me ask you a question, children.” She paused, peering at the kids to make sure she had their attention. “Which is easier? To improve from a score of ’0′. Or from ’100′?” The students’ faces brightened.

When I first read about this story in a newsletter, I couldn’t help smiling. It’s a very simple tale. Perhaps even cliché. But what’s behind the message really sunk into my head. The defeatist always see their stagnant circumstances as limiting. Potentially hopeless. But the optimist?

He reframes it.

Your Thoughts

Have you been ever been stuck and frustrated with the ways things have turned out, but then enlightened when someone pointed out something you didn’t think of in your situation? How did you feel? What do you think is holding you back from seeing what the other person saw?

** Photo By Pedrosimoes7


27 Responses to “What Optimistic People Do When They’re Stuck …”

  1. Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker at 7:52 am

    When I seem to be stuck, I usually reach out to close friends who can give me a different perspective on my challeges. I also choose to look at life’s difficulties as challenges rather than mistakes. Life is all about learning from our challenges. Challenges aways come with a gift in hand. You just have to look for them. Have a glorious day.

  2. @Stephen | Productivity in Context at 11:58 am

    Whenever I get stuck I go back to my journal for the same time last year to see if there is a pattern, i.e., did I get stuck in the same way before? If so, I read on to find out what I did to get out of it, or not. (I have a little Seasonal Affective Disorder, and get into a rut around Christmas and New Year’s)
    Then I brainstorm “out-of-the-box” ideas for improving the situation, and keep these ideas in a file for the next time.

  3. Al at 7P at 2:04 pm

    Hi Ellesse – the first thing I do is to get outside advice. Asking friends and family, peers, sometimes even in newsgroups…

    I’ve been raised to be self-dependent and reliant and that’s good up to a certain point. Sometimes a problem that might take me hours to figure out might take just minutes for someone else, and it’s only been recent that I’ve realized how I need to go against my initial instincts sometimes and be willing to reach out for help.

    This answer was triggered by a recent NY Times article I read about getting a “personal” board of advisers. I thought it was a clever idea.

  4. Gamy Rachel at 2:22 pm

    Hi Ellesse,

    What I will do is to step back and view the whole situation.

    The questions I will ask myself will be:

    1) How can make it better?

    2) What else can I do besides taking this route. An alternative perhaps?

    3) Who can I consult ?

    4) Quiet myself, and let go, or put it aside for a time being.


  5. Andrea Hess|Empowered Soul at 10:00 pm

    Hi Ellesse,

    Great article! In my “woo-woo” way, what I do is hand the whole dilemma over to my Spirit Guides. I ask them for assistance, and let it go for a while. I try to do something self-nurturing and distracting. The solution usually jumps into my head within a few hours!


  6. Ellesse at 10:03 am

    Thank you gals and guy for chiming in!

    @Pat, I totally agree with you! Friends help very much in reframing and I’m so happy for you that you’ve got such incredible support from your pals! But I’ve also learned the hard way that sometimes friends’ advice can be so subjective that instead of helping, it can be quite limiting. Gamy’s Question 3 “Who can I consult” is very important in this case.

    For example, I remembered when I got into one of my country’s lowest ranking junior college (i.e. the Preuniversity), a friend of mine actually suggest I should take another route (take a diploma course) because if I was enrolled in that junior college, I would never be able to get into University. I was kind of glad I reframed that challenge in a different way and took it up as an opportunity to learn at a less stressed environment! And it turned out really well!

    @Al, that’s pretty much like me too. I was a lot “independent” in the past and relied a lot of my own gut feel/instincts. Just like the decision to quit my job! I didn’t consult anyone on that because I know most if not all will advise me against it! I only took the confidence jump after seeing things this way : The regret of not pursuing something you’ve been harhouring for so many years is so much more painful than the failure (if there is any) itself.

    Thanks for linking to that article! Interesting. But don’t you find this personal board of advisors concept similar to mastermindng theory? A question off the cuff, do you belong to any mastermind groups and would you consider joining one? I’m trying to assess the feasibility of creating a platform for that… hmm…

    @Gamy, thanks. Those are excellent questions to start off a reframing all by yourself!

    @Andrea, you know something? I’ve been so fascinated reading about Spirit Guides reading from your articles and occasionally in Slade’s responses in his comments that I’m starting to think that it seems to a very easy way to resolve issues and conflicts. Pardon me as I’m not really a very spiritually inclined person but my question is, how do you go about doing such readings? And how does it work? Is it like Law of Attraction, where you start incubating these thoughts in your mind and wait for flashes of inspiration to pop up?

    Hmm… does anyone has any instances where someone – can be a family member or friend – who pointed out a unique perspective just like the teacher did?

  7. Al at 7P at 12:48 pm

    Hi Ellesse – that’s awesome how you knew when to ask for advise and when to simply trust your own instincts.

    Agreed also about how the personal advisory board is very similar to a mastermind group. I actually like the idea better for a mastermind group better and think it’s more practical, since it’s mutual benefit for all as opposed to a personal advisory board where it seems only one person benefits.

    I was in one mastermind group (I accepted before I quite knew what it was about) and it had a lot of good people but I didn’t see anyone having an agenda or purpose and it simply died out. Lot of potential, but didn’t pan out. I actually thought about creating one when I read your article a while back, and I still have that interest.

  8. Andrea Hess | Empowered Soul Blog at 7:04 pm

    Hi Ellesse, glad this is catching your attention! :-) Working with our Guides IS a great way to resolve issues – it’s like we delegate to our spiritual support staff. When we work with our own Guides, the general rule of thumb is “Ask and Receive.” Some of us don’t even ask – others are really not great at the receiving part. We tend to try and figure it all out ourselves.

    When I do readings for others, it’s much more of a structured process – it has to be! After all, I have appointments with clients. So my intuition really does work “on demand” because that’s what I’ve trained in. I have a professional intuitive development program out there at

    But for most of us (unless we want to do readings for others) it’s great to cultivate the habit of asking for assistance from our Guides, and then being receptive to what shows up. Requests are always answered! It’s really fun to witness our spiritual support team in action!

    Thanks for asking those questions!

  9. Adebola at 4:46 pm

    Great post Ellesse,

    Most times, I spend a lot of times at online forums asking questions on what to do when stuck.

    Apart from being a writer, I am also a technical person and I find forums a GREAT place to seek for any form of help and not to forget GOOGLE! ;)

    You just made me remember the song, “We all need somebody” :)

  10. Rob at 3:50 am

    My friends call me the eternal optimist. Though they often don’t know whats running in my head.
    The truth is though that even when I am in a negative mode, my nature is to see the bright side. I will often let myself dwell in negative mode for a short while just to become aware of how much I dislike it, and then I will switch into positive gear. I just ask my self “What is the positive way to look at this”

  11. Ellesse at 4:08 am

    @Al, I’ve noticed that phenomenon happening to my own mastermind groups too. I’m in 2. Both started out exciting and everyone in the group was so pumped up. Chiming in the discussion, brainstorming new ideas and even talking about potential joint ventures. But as time goes, and partly due to the size of the group, executing the ideas became a big issue. Soon, it became touch and go. No one bothered to ask questions anymore. And when people are not deriving any value at all from the discussions/brainstorming, the whole group just died off. It’s kind of sad because like yourself, I do see a lot of great potential in both groups. Especially since being more convinced on the importance of a mastermind group after reading The Hidden Secret in The Think & Grow Rich.

    Despite that, I never really gave up trying to revive the spirit of masterminding and was thinking of how I can do just that and perhaps expose some of the readers to this kind of concept. Just to bounce off some ideas :
    - Would you be interested in joining a member’s only private forum/group to support your goals and,
    - Commit to a monthly call via skype within your group to update your progress?

    I’m not sure how this will turn out but it could be something similar to Leo’s Challenge forum but in a more private and personalised setting. What do you think?

    People, feel free to give me your comments too if this will work out.

    @Andrea, awesome! You’ve given me what I need to know about spiritual guides reading! From your explanation – feel free to correct me – both Spiritual Guides Reading and Law of Attraction (“LOA”) seems to be tapping on the power of a higher divine self (be it the Universe, God in various religions, Angels/Spirits or to some, the subconscious mind) in deriving answers to one’s most mind boggling questions. And in the case of LOA, attracting things we want (or don’t want). Thanks for pointing out that most of us don’t know enough to execute the process properly. I strongly agree with you because I’ve received a couple of comments or emails from readers sharing with me their difficulties with the LOA manifestation through my Vision Board experiment. Many has heard about spiritual readings, LOA and yet so many of us actually have problems with them. What do you think are some of the issues stopping people from doing so? Fear? Anxiety or lack of knowledge?

    Oh by the way, how is spiritual guides reading different from tarot cards fortune telling? I was given a stack of tarot cards as a Christmas present years ago and i was really thinking what should I do with it! Haha.

    Pardon me if I’m asking too many questions. We hardly have an expert in the house :)

    @Adebola I attest to what you’re saying about the technical issues. When I was modifying the new wordpress theme for Goal Setting College, I sought help from the experts from the Sitepoint forum. One of them was able to point out an error in my CSS code within a very short period of time! I was like “Wow, these people took 5 minutes to answer a question I seem to take forever to understand!”

    Btw, which forums do you normally frequent?

  12. Ellesse at 7:45 am

    Stephen It’s kinda weird that your comment actually slipped in my spam folder! Luckily I’ve taken a second look and found 2 pieces of your comment gems in it. Phew!

    It’s so interesting reading about how you guys and gals got out of a seemingly stuck situation. Particularly in your case where you mentioned there are actually seasonal trends for getting stuck. Do you particularly do anything to prevent yourself from recurring in the same habit? If yes, what do you do?

    Recently, I’ve contemplating starting a private online success journal – a lot of people seems to have great sucess using this – does anyone of you write a success journal and does it really help you?

    @Rob, thanks for adding on to the dimension! My question to you is this, do you particularly go through any thought process (such as a question probing structured process like Gamy) or do you instinctively just flip it to the positive camp?

  13. Al at 7P at 10:54 am

    Ellesse – if there is a new mastermind group forming, count me in :) I haven’t used skype, but i’m willing to give that a shot.

  14. Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker at 5:00 pm

    I agree with Stephen that some of my blocks seem to be seasonal. Christmas and Easter are two times of the year that I can have periods of seeming to be stuck in old patterns. Like Stephen, I looked back into journals to see the patterns. Because of this new knowledge, I wasn’t “stuck” as long in the pattern this winter as I have been in the past. Awareness is the first step to letting go and moving forward. Feeling has never been my strong suit. As a child, I learned to not feel in order to survive the abuse. Now, all my body seems to want is for me to feel. I used to run from the feelings. Now, I stay with the feelings more and more and have learned that staying in the feeling is the key to releasing it so it doesn’t return bigger and meaner than before. Healing has definitely been a long process for me. I am stubborn and want to do things my way. That doesn’t always work. I have to let go of controlling everything. Facing my fears allows me to do that.

  15. Ellesse at 1:38 pm

    @Al Cool! I’ll let you know if there’s any further developments on that! I used skype to call my mum once from Pakistan. Oh my, it was quite clear! The only issue I forsee is probably the time difference. And naturally, the no. of readers who express their interest.

    @Pat Thanks for sharing your experience and insight on how journals have helped you to get out of the seasonal rut! I strongly agree with you that facing the feeling/challenge when it’s small. Sadly, not a lot of people are as courageous as you! We often wait till the problem gets snowballed until it gets out of hand.

    But even then, an elephant can still be eaten. One bite at a time, that is.

  16. Andrea Hess|Empowered Soul at 3:39 am

    Hi Ellesse,

    I think intuitive work and Law of Attraction definitely tap into the same realm! But intuition is something we cultivate – we can totally decide to ignore our intuitive abilities, and most people do. The Law of Attraction, on the other hand, is like gravity. It just works!

    I think that what we attract is a perfect mirror of who we are – so if we have “problems” with the Law of Attraction and “making it work” it’s because there are aspects of ourselves that we don’t know, don’t want to acknowledge, or are very fearful to even look at!

    By the way, tarot cards are a tool that allows you to receive messages from your Higher Self/Guides. It’s a way to receive the information while circumventing the mind (which tends to get in the way). There’s a nifty little book out there called “intuitive Tarot” which will get you up and running in a couple of hours! I personally don’t use the tarot, because there can be so many interpretations of the results. I like dowsing with a pendulum better.

    Thanks for the interesting conversation!


  17. Lola Fayemi / Real World Spiritual and Personal Development at 6:11 pm

    Hey Ellesse

    I wasn’t particularly feeling stuck but, you just reframed my mind with this post! I love the concept of being at 0, the only way is up then.

    Short ‘n’ sweet…

    In love, light and abundance x x x

  18. Ellesse at 9:14 am

    @Andre Fantastic, thanks for clearing the air about LOA and intuitive work! I think it gives readers who’re interested to go for a spiritual reading a completely refreshing take on it. Oh I see, so Tarot cards can be used as a tool as well! Will check out that book you mentioned. Thanks for the recommendation!

    You’re so right about the issue people have with LOA. Naturally, if they’re constantly seeing scarcity and limitation, they’ll manifest more of such in their lives. What made this interesting is, it actually contravenes some of the conventional ideas we’ve been hearing. For example, the subject of saving money. Being thrifty actually emphasizes on the scarcity & lack and many people (including myself) believes in the importance of it. At the end of the day, it’s important to maintain a balance and that’s probably – in my opinion – what makes certain ideas difficult to employ.

    @Lola, thanks for adding to the chatter! I’m glad you like the story. I was mesmerized by its simplicity when I first read it and knew I had to share it!

  19. Don Jacks at 3:08 pm

    Being stuck is normal for us all at times I believe. A walk, short meditation or a few pages of a very inspiring book helps me in most cases get my miind on straight. Like it’s been said above, talking w/trusted advisors helps, sometimes, except when we KNOW the response we will get and just have to trust our gut and GO FOR IT!

    I just found this website and love it. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Merry Christmas to all!

  20. Ellesse at 2:47 pm

    @Don Mediation… hmm. I’ve heard it works well in clearing the mind. I’ve never tried it before but I guess it must have it’s merits. Feel free to browse around Goal Setting College. If you’ve got great thoughts to share, drop me a mail yeah :)

  21. Ebony at 5:51 pm

    This is a great website, and it was very helpful. I received help so I will give. It often works for me to take a walk outside or listen to music that I love. These are just two, and different things work at different times. Today I needed something else, and while I’m not sure if I found it. This did get my mind off things and make me smile. So thanks and by the way sitting still in a quiet place to clear your head is not a bad way either.

  22. Ellesse at 2:53 am

    @Ebony Thanks for your suggestions! I’m glad the things here helped you and boy, I’ve to agree with you on the power of music. I’m a huge fan of it :)

  23. Grace at 4:15 am

    I’ve alway tried to be optimistic about everything in my life but when something passes my limit, I usually confront my parents or trusted friends. Friends always have the right answer that they usually blurt out so it makes me comfortable around them and telling them about my situation. ^.^

  24. Ellesse at 2:15 am

    @Grace You’re right! Personally, I do consult one of my sister for advice whenever I’m stuck. More often than not, she helps me put things into a positive perspective and that’s an important part of the whole reframing process. But this can be a double edge sword though. Especially if that “person” leads u away from what you should be doing so it’s important to weigh the feedback that was given to you. Especially on your goals. In case you’re wondering why I said that, check out this.

  25. AJ at 7:07 pm

    So True Ellesse!!!…Once you start on the path of positivity…possible becomes a limitless word…You are so free that undicovered infinity within you triggers solution for toughest moment, situation, issue or circumstances in life. I have been experencing the same for over two months now… Life has become so easy and limitless.

  26. Ellesse at 6:38 am

    @AJ You’re right. What confines us is not our circumstances or issues. But rather the span of our own thoughts. It can very stifling. Or it can be liberating or limitless :)

  27. Jojo Pera at 4:12 am

    The best way to overcome any adversity is to become a positively motivated person. Let me put you in a mathematical perspective.

    positve + positive = positive negative + negative= negative

    as you can see a positve input would result in a positive sum and so with the negative.

    Now that is in addition. In multiplication it is a whole new thing again.

    positive x positve = positive here is the catch negative x negative = positive

    we can make something negative into a positive thing.

    Surely a positive outlook would result to a more brighter and wonderful life than a negative one.


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