Have you ever worked hard on something only to experience that it just isn’t working out the way you imagined, leaving you feeling frustrated and stressed?

Several months ago I had this exasperating situation. An inspiring 3-month long project that began as a labor of love became hard. Too hard. To the point that it was stressful and no longer enjoyable. For a bit, I continued to push forward, ignoring the signals I received physically and emotionally. I wracked my brain and reviewed the details and strategies of this project to the point that I literally got tired of it. I put it aside. I felt a lot of different emotions, as “giving up” isn’t one of my go-to behaviors.


Here’s what happened next….


I chose to “surrender” to the fact that it wasn’t working out. I used Byron Katie’s, author of “The Work“, main strategy which is to stop fighting my current reality.

I decided to take some time off and enjoy a “staycation.” I sprinkled in some leisure activities, yoga classes, coffee with a friend, hanging out on my porch with my puppy, reading a new book, and scheduled a couple’s massage with my husband at our favorite spa. The days were relaxed and unscheduled. No stress.

Guess what…around the 4th day, I experienced an exciting breakthrough. Fresh new ideas tumbled from out of “nowhere,” which I captured into my journal. I was thrilled. I had a new way to move forward with my project, which was WAY better and easier to execute!

I didn’t realize then that I experienced a naturally occurring phenomenon called “breakout.” Dr. Herbert Benson, the author of the Relaxation Response and The Breakout Principle, teaches us that working hard towards a goal, such as an essential work project, is an excellent strategy TO A POINT…. but if you keep striving to the point that you are struggling, feeling blocked and stuck, then you will undermine your success.

If you are irritable, not thinking clearly, or have somatic complaints (e.g., headache or backache), it’s time to do the breakout principle!

The secret is to know when to back off. An excellent strategy for success is to disengage from your project for a period of time. Do something completely different and pleasant such as taking a walk, listening to Mozart, or watching a hilarious movie. Your brain will shift from a linear thought process to a more creative and receptive mode. You’ve set the stage for new ideas and solutions to come pouring in.

The secret to using the breakout principle is recognizing when you are pushing too hard. If so, it’s time to “breakout”.

Breakouts can be short ( like taking a walk) or longer, such as taking time off and clearing your schedule. There’s no right or wrong way to do it; both are effective ways to open up your creative and resourceful capacities.

Start today and use the breakout principle liberally in your life and get ready to experience unprecedented success!


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Copyright © 2018 Diana Long