In and Out of Ruts
Bill Cottringer

“It takes guts to get out of the ruts.” ~Robert H. Schuller.

First of all, here are the two main elements of a “rut” that can help us arrive at a common understanding of what we are talking about here.

• Being somewhere where you don’t want to be or not being somewhere where you do want to be and not seeming to be able to do anything about the situation.
• Doing something you don’t want to be doing or not doing something you do want to be doing and being stuck in the situation.

This is also know as being caught between a rock and a hard place or in psychology a classic double-bind avoidance conflict.

In my previous article I presented the seven universal ground rules to life into which we are born. These are the outer parameters of life as we experience it. This is a two-part article, going from philosophical theory to practical application, in applying these seven laws to getting unstuck from a rut in which we will inevitably find ourselves from time to time.

1. Reality is infinite.

Actually, no part of reality is infinite accept all of reality collectively. The experience of being stuck in a rut is not a permanent resting spot that goes on eternally because it is just a small part of the backdrop of infinite reality. Being in a rut is more of an ephemeral experience that dualistic judgment just aggravates with quality characteristics like unpleasant, unwanted, impervious, undesirable and such. Now on the opposite of this continuum, you can’t get too upset about not being able to stay out of a rut for too long of a period, thanks to the forever flow of life rule below. Regardless of the boulders and tree limbs below the surface, the raging waterfalls or the shallow banks, the river keeps flowing from the sky back to the sky again, eventually.

2. There are no certainties.
Understanding this particulate fiat is really a double-edged sword. Just like infinity, there are no certainties except this certainty itself. But just knowing that the rut experience is not for certain can give hope of not getting stuck in one, especially at the wrong time, and if by chance you are, the continuing can either go on or not. Again, there is always hope for the desired outcome. And that is the magic of the universe without predestined outcomes, at least except with staying inside these seven ground rules and not deluding yourself into thinking that you can step outside, an ability that will likely remain unproven.

3. Duality is inherent.

This is the easiest ground rule to explain, but it seems as though the obscure takes a while to see, while the obvious even longer. Simply put, the world is made up of pairs of polar opposites for a very good reason. This is so you can experience each in comparison with its opposite. Things like day, cold, up, right, this, male, Republicans, givers, and life, help you know night, hot, wrong, that, female, Democrats, takers, and death. If you only experienced one set of the polar opposites in this dualistic universe, you simply wouldn’t be able to know or feel what it was, without something to compare and contrast it with. It would be an empty experience without any flavor to it. This is probably why the schools teach this skill of comparing and contrasting.

4. Compelling illusions prevail.

It seems as though the illusion of control gives us the compelling hope of sooner or later, we can get unstuck from this rut, if we just try harder, exercise a different approach, or just get some good luck along the way. But since control and the time to do the controlling are both illusions, we are held hostage in our own imagination, which may be somewhat of another illusion itself. The perspective of nothing may be like it appears, may be a safe way to sidestep the many illusions that are difficult to see through. But since reality is infinite and there are no certainties,, illusions are only a temporary minefield.

5. Actions have consequences.

The application of this rule amounts to connecting the actions preceding getting stuck in the rut in the first place, with the consequences, or results that happen. Then of course, it is usually beneficial to notice the connections between how you got unstuck from the rut and what you did to do that, or if you didn’t manage to get unstuck, what didn’t you do that you may have needed to do. These are all the things we typically fail to notice because of the time illusion that prompts impatience of the control illusion that leads us astray. This failure is a consequence that can’t be unnoticed.

6. The Tao rules.

This sixth rule of life is the saving grace. Life is a rhythmic flow that never stops, so you have to work really hard at staying stuck in a rut, just like staying unhappy, depressed, or miserable. These states of experience take a lot of conscious effort to preserve. This is because its passing is more natural than not, as a smooth flow, and needs a lot of energy to stay put. Here again, enters the time illusion that breeds impatience for getting unstuck and out of the rut. It is only patience that allows you to get in sync with Tao.

7. Energy is perpetual.

Here again the energy that gets you stuck in a rut can continue perpetually unless you find a way to transform or transmute it in another direction or form, to let you get out of the rut. Lucky for us, that the energy for being depressed, unhappy or staying stuck in a rut, doesn’t run out. Fortunately for us it is perpetual. Its apparent disappearance, especially when we think we may need it most, is not gone, but just in another form that we have to search for an find with our infinitely creative minds.

John Lennon was seemingly correct when he said, “there are no problems, only solutions.”

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is retired Executive Vice President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA, but still teaches criminal justice classes and practices business success coaching and sport psychology. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Because Organization, an intervention program in human trafficking, the King County Sheriff’s Community Advisory Board, and involved with volunteer work in the veteran’s and horse therapy program at NWNHC Family Fund. Bill is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000 (MJR Publishing); The Prosperity Zone (Authorlink Press); You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence); The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree); Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers); Reality Repair (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Publish America); Critical Thinking (Authorsden); Thoughts on Happiness, Pearls of Wisdom: A Dog’s Tale, and Christian Psychology (Covenant Books, Inc.). Coming soon: Reality Repair Rx + and Dog Logic. Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (206)-914-1863 or