6 Questions To Ask Yourself To See If You're Stagnant (Or Not)
Let's talk about stagnation for a moment, shall we? When it comes to a cool place to begin the discussion, how about let's start with water. Do you remember hearing in elementary-level science class that stagnant water stinks? Well, it wasn't too long ago that this theory was brought back to my remembrance after leaving a cup of water sitting on the side of my sink for a couple of days. When I went to rinse it out—Lord, have mercy! How could a simple coffee mug, with nothing but water in it, smell all foul like that? I did a little research and rediscovered that when water has a limited dissolved oxygen in it, it's a breeding ground for bacteria. As the organisms in the bacteria start to die, that's what makes stagnant (still) water smell as crappy as it does.
In walks, the definition of stagnant. One definition is "to cease to run or flow, as water, air, etc." Another is "to be or become stale or foul from standing, as a pool of water". Both of those apply to water really well (and are a good reminder of why you should open up your house windows to let some fresh air in, every once in a while, too). Well, two other definitions for stagnant are "to stop developing, growing, progressing, or advancing" and "to be or become sluggish and dull". Hmph. When the author Vince Flynn once said, "If you're not busy living, you're dying", this pretty much sums up why stagnation is so problematic. All of us have a limited amount of time on this planet and to fall into a rut of being stagnant is about the worst use of yours that you could ever do.
So, how can you know, without a shadow of a doubt, that you are stagnant when it comes to how you are currently living your life? I suggest that you start by asking yourself the following six questions and then pay attention to what your mind, body and spirit tell you about your answers.
1. Are You Using Your Gifts and Talents on the Regular?
Every single one of us was born with gifts and talents. To me, gifts are things that come extremely natural to you that appear close to supernatural to others. Talents are things that you are good at, yet you might need a little help with fine-tuning. For instance, I know that one of my gifts is writing. A talent of mine is singing. A friend of mine (shout-out to award-winning producer SHANNON SANDERS) says that a mistake that a lot of us make is we spend more time trying to master our talents than cultivate our gifts; if we did the opposite, there's no telling what doors would open up for us (which is exactly why I went the writing route).
Anyway, sometimes we're so consumed with making ends meet, that more time, effort and energy is put into doing our jobs than fueling our gifts and talents. Yet remember that a wise person once said that, "You weren't born to just pay bills and die" and that really is the God honest truth. If whatever your paying gig is consists of you utilizing your gifts and talents, my only two cents for that would be, if you're working to build someone else's empire, make sure to invest some time into also building one of your own too. However, if you can't even remember the last time you wrote, sang, painted, designed—whatever it is that you do extremely and naturally well, whether you realize it or not, you are actually not living life to its fullest because, again, a part of your purpose is to utilize the gifts and talents that you've been given.
If you know that you haven't been vigilant in this area, there's no time like the present to start. Decide today that you will devote time, daily, to your gifts and talents. Watch how much fuller your life becomes, the very moment that you do.
2. Is Every Day Exactly the Same?
Boredom sucks. That said, one definition that I think folks need to keep in the forefront of their mind when it comes to being bored is "tedious repetition". Goodness, if there's ever a time when we were pushed to the absolute limit on that, it's 2020. Here's the thing, though. Even in a pandemic (including being locked down in one), there are still things that you can do to keep yourself from living a ho-hum life where you feel like you are doing the same damn thing, day in and day out. Cook different meals. Take different routes to places you need to go. Hit up a site like Skillshare to take a class. If you've got a boo, try some new sex positions. Update a room in your house. Try a different hairstyle. Hell, paint your toes a different color.
While it does require a little bit of forethought and effort, another way to break out of the valley of stagnation is to make the decision to attempt something new or different every day. It doesn't have to be anything huge. It could simply be a new flavor of ice cream or a music genre or era that you've never considered before. People who live a rich and fulfilling life can often look back on all kinds of memories. They created them by trying out a variety of things. For you, there's no time like the present, sis.
3. Are You Right Where You Were this Time Last Year?
While actually all of these questions are worthy of pulling out your journal and doing a little writing on, this one really needs a couple of pages. The reason why I say that is because, in order to get to the root of this particular question, it's a good idea to break your life up into categories—professionally, personally, relationally, spiritually, financially, when it comes to your health, your goals and your desires…as it relates to all of these things, are you in the same place that you were, just 12 short months ago? If your answer is basically "yes", in any of these things, that is another clear sign that you're stagnant on some level.
One of the best things about time is it helps us to evaluate, process and hopefully heal and move forward. When it comes to certain people, places, things and especially ideas, I can clearly pinpoint how I'm in a much different head and heart space now than I was this time last year. In every area of your life, you should be seeing progress. If you can't say that about something or someone, it's a clear indication that it's time to do some serious re-evaluating and, where need me, some much needed shifting as well. Again, everything should be showing signs of growth, on some level. If they're not, there is a level of stagnation going on.
4. When’s the Last Time You Took a (Real) Risk?
Back when I wrote the article, "Are You A 'Comfort Zone Addict'?", a point that I brought up in it is, if the word "risk" is basically like a cuss word to you, that's a pretty telling sign that you probably are an addict in this area. Contrary to popular belief, "risk" isn't a bad word. It's all about calculating your risks beforehand. What I mean by that is, for example, having sex with a new partner without using a condom? That's a pretty dumb and dangerous risk. Being open to going on a date with someone who isn't your traditional type, at the recommendation of a friend that you know and trust, that is a risk worth trying out.
Most of the best things that have ever happened to me, they came as the direct result of stepping out on faith and attempting something that I was a little afraid to do and seemed a little crazy on the surface. Matter of fact, I'm actually celebrating my 20th year of not working in an office and making most of my money from writing as we speak. Stagnant people don't do risks. Successful people take them often. The kind of person you ultimately want to be will help you to decide if you should take more risks in your own life—or not.
5. Do You Live Your Life for Others?
Y'all, don't even get me started on where I would be right now if I had taken the unsolicited/borderline controlling advice of my parents, teachers or a lot of the church folks who were once in my life. I can tell you for sure that I'd be working a job that I hate, married to a man who I settled for and spiritually stagnant like a big mug. Man, if I could forewarn every high school senior, I would alert them to the fact that it can be quite the bumpy road to transition out of doing what adults in your life tell you to do vs. learning to listen to your own voice, gut instinct and conscience so that you can do what is best for you—whether they think so or not.
Hear me when I say that one of the ways you will DEFINITELY end up stagnant is if your life consists of doing what others expect of you or making others happy at the expense of your own joy, self-fulfillment and peace of mind. In fact, one of the worst things that any of us could ever do is allow others to manipulate us into thinking that only living our life the way they see fit is the route to go. NOPE. 9.6 times outta 10, that's what will have you feeling all kinds of lost while ending up being all types of resentful. You can't grow and progress by being or doing what others expect of you. They've got their own life and, real talk, if they were trying to live theirs to the fullest, they wouldn't have time to be all up on your business anyway.
Wisdom, maturity and even humility teaches that yes, advice can be good. But you don't owe ANYONE the right for them to determine the paths you should take or the choices you need to make. It's selfish AF for them to try and make you believe otherwise. If you want to thrive, you've gotta cut the training wheels off from others and walk this thing out on your own. Are you doing that? If you're not—when will you start?
6. Do You LOVE or Just “Like” Your Life?
Let me just say, off top, that loving your life doesn't mean that everything is easy breezy or that there aren't challenges. In order to do this writing thing, basically full-time, there are many financial sacrifices that I've had to make. MANY. But man—to be able to work from home, set my own hours, write exactly what I want to without compromising my values, principles or myself? And then when I'm not writing on relationships, to be able to help people with theirs, and then turn around and help other folks birth their children (because I'm also a doula)? I promise you that there isn't one night when I don't sleep in perfect peace, when it comes to the life path that I am on. There really isn't.
This is why I vehemently say that another sign that you're stagnant is if you can't reflect on the current state of your own life and be able to say the same thing—that you LOVE it! Not just that it's "cool" or "OK" but you are really enjoying what you're currently doing (including how you're doing it) and that you're super excited about what's to come (because you're constantly coming up with ways to top yourself).
If you can't look at yourself in the mirror and smile, each and every morning about your world, there is some stagnation going on because remember—stagnation is a lack of advancement and feeling like things are dull and sluggish for you.
The good news is you have the power to change all of this. Sure, you might not be able to quit your job now, get into the kind of relationship that you desire now or cultivate the type of world that you've always dreamed of…right now. What you can do, though, is start planning. You can stop just letting life happen to you and start putting your energy into creating the one that you want.
I was just telling someone recently that I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing at the turn of this century. That was 20 years ago and, in the grand scheme of things, it all went by pretty damn fast. My point? Life is too short and you've got too much within you to settle for stagnation. Decide, TODAY, that it's time to invest in what will grow and develop every facet of your life. Because, as any abandoned cup of water can attest to—stagnation stinks. Period.
Join our xoTribe, an exclusive community dedicated to YOU and your stories and all things xoNecole. Be a part of a growing community of women from all over the world who come together to uplift, inspire, and inform each other on all things related to the glow up.
Featured image by Shutterstock
- You Can Already See How It Will Contribute to Your Growth and ... ›
- 8 Signs You're Addicted To Your Comfort Zone - xoNecole: Women's ... ›
- Life Path Number 5 - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness ... ›
- Where Do You Want to Be This Time Next Year? - xoNecole ... ›
- A Breakup Led Me To True Self-Love - xoNecole: Women's Interest ... ›
- Is Your Man Holding You Back In Life? - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Learn What to Do When You Feel Stuck In Life | Tony Robbins ›
- 5 Questions to Ask Yourself When You're Feeling Stuck | Feeling ... ›
- Ask Nurse Keith: Feeling Stagnant In My Nursing Career | Nurse.org ›
- 15 signs it's time to make a change in your life - and key questions to ... ›
- 6 Questions to Ask Yourself When You are Feeling Stuck and Stagnant ›
- 5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life ›
- If you're ready to transform, ask yourself these 9 questions ... ›
- Generativity vs. Stagnation in Psychosocial Development ›
- 5 Questions to Ask Yourself When You're Feeling Stuck ›
- 6 Questions to Ask Yourself When You Feel Stuck and Stagnant in ... ›
Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by FOTOGRAFIA, INC./Getty Images