How to alleviate a block in 5 steps


How to alleviate a block in 5 steps

What is a block, and how do we fix it?

If you have a mental block about something, you cannot understand it or do it because something in your mind prevents you1

When I say the phrase “mental block”, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Frustration? Annoyance? Confusion? The picture above probably sums it up for most people.

Identifying the blockage

It doesn’t matter what the block is – all you know is that it is currently blocking you from progressing. And in fact, at this stage, it doesn’t matter where it comes from (we’ll explore this later on). With all blockages, we have to work our way backwards, starting with what it is that is currently blocking you.

We worked with a client several years ago who struggled vocally to be heard, regardless of the situation. If she was at work, she would be ignored. If she was out with friends, she would be ignored. We knew straight away that there was something preventing her from speaking up in those situations – she had virtually no volume and her articulation was also lacking in clarity.

Identifying the history

Next, we have to identify how long this block has existed – for some, it’s been a matter of months, for others it’s been a matter of years (or even decades!). You don’t need to necessarily identify the exact day or week that it occurred (although this is useful if you can), but just a rough idea is important.

Our client identified straight away that their block had existed for a long time – in fact, they couldn’t remember initially a time when it hadn’t existed. But then it struck her; at school, other students would tell her she was too quiet, both in and out of the classroom. All of a sudden, she realised why she felt she couldn’t speak up in her adult life – it had been ingrained in her from an early age.

We’ve identified what the block is, how it affects us, how long it’s been going on for and where it might have come from. So – what’s next?

What can you do?

Before you think about giving up, there is hope. Last time your kitchen sink got blocked, did you leave it and let it overflow? No, of course you didn’t – you used a product to relieve the blockage. As much as I wish there was a product for mental blocks, there isn’t; however, there are many ways to relieve them:

  1. Write down what your block is and how it is currently impacting you. Be as detailed here as you can – does it only impact you in certain situations?
  2. Write down the opposite of your block. For example, if you feel that you can speak up in any form of communication, then the opposite might be that you have the confidence to speak up for yourself in all situations. Again, be as specific as you can be here.
  3. Place the opposite notes somewhere visible in your workplace or home, so you can observe them daily, and place the current block somewhere safe for future reference.
  4. Take small steps to combat it. You must not try to alleviate it all in one go. For example, today, focus on trying to achieve the opposite for just 3-4 minutes or on one occasion. For example, if you are terrified of speaking to people you don’t know, take 3-4 minutes out of your day to try to converse with a stranger. Don’t worry at this stage if it doesn’t go swimmingly – but make sure you celebrate the win of trying!
  5. Bonus: If it helps, think of something that feels far worse than your block – for example, having to run for 10-15 minutes in the cold. Use this as a challenge to yourself (“If I don’t do this, I’m going to have to do this instead…”). You’ll be surprised how your brain makes the block seem so much more appealing now.

The above is just the start, but it’s your first step in beginning to overcome your block and prevent it from getting in the way of your development. Remember, far more of our communication problems stem from psychology than physically, and it’s always important to be transparent with yourself in terms of what problems you face – only then, can you start to progress, develop and build your confidence.

Wondering if we can help with the above? Check out our recent article on finding the right elocution coach for you here.


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