Do you ever just get sucked in? Maybe it is an activity you didn’t really want to do. Perhaps it is a habit or mindset that you just can’t shake? Maybe it is your job. Regardless of the scenario, you find yourself feeling trapped and struggling to find your way out.
You may be thinking “where are you going with this Mark?” Well, I’ve recently moved into some new office space with a big window, and just outside is a Japanese beetle trap. At the time of this writing, I’ve have captured over five bags worth of these destructive creatures in a little more than one week. The trap is simple in design and highly effective in it’s function.
As I watch beetle after beetle get sucked into this trap, it reminds me of the various traps we get sucked into in the course of life. There are any number of scenarios that apply, but there are six major categories in which we can find ourselves trapped and struggling to get out.
Relationships. I have written before on the importance of relationships in living a fulfilled life. But sometimes relationships can be a trap of negativity, or even worse. We all have the capacity to influence others positively, but when the influence is going the other way and trapping you in the negative, it is time to consider a graceful exit.
Attitudes. Our attitudes—belief about others and self—are the lenses through which we see the world. If they are out of focus, off tint, or just dirty, we will see everything else that way too. Although it may not always feel this way, our attitude is something we can control. A healthy, or unhealthy, attitude makes all the difference. How is your attitude influencing your vision?
Work. This is a big category. I’ve talked to so many people in the recent past who feel stuck, trapped even, in their job. There are many factors that lead to this feeling. There are also many negative side effects from feeling trapped in a job. Suffice it to say, this one catches a lot of people.
Activities. Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the busyness of life? I had a client tell me this week that “summers are just not relaxing.” Where does your time go and to what end? Your calendar (just like your finances) will show the things you really value. The cultural appeal of busy is strong and inviting, but check your motivation—you may find it’s more about form than substance.
Financial. Sometimes this is the carrot—continually reaching for more and more. Sometimes this is the stick—requiring more and more to fund the lifestyle you think will lead to happiness. Regardless, both represent potential traps. Of course, more is sometimes necessary. But often it is just a trap. How are you at spotting the difference?
Spiritual. If you are persuaded, as I am, that following Jesus is a cause worth giving your life to, then the trap here is to settle for anything less. The religious activities associated with following Jesus can be beneficial disciplines but when they are elevated to the foreground ahead of Jesus the trap has been set. As Richard Rohr writes, the trap is “making the object of religious faith ideas or doctrines instead of a person.”(1)
Do any of these categories resonate with you? Like an unsuspecting beetle drawn to the scent, what are you being sucked in to? Or, maybe you’re already trapped and trying to find your way out. Whatever your scenario, the starting place is awareness. As W. Timothy Gallwey writes, “if you want to change something, first increase your awareness of the way it is.”(2) We’ll pick up there in part two of this article.
(1) Richard Rohr’s daily meditation, An Open and Growing Heart, July 18, 2017
(2) W. Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game of Golf, Random House 1998 (p68)