Feeling stuck is when you see yourself fall in the same pattern of behaviors or thoughts over and over again, and you feel you cannot move forward. It’s uncomfortable to feel stuck or to fear doing things differently. The pain of being stuck may feel much smaller than the pain of freeing yourself and doing something about it. Sometimes, there is a sense of safety and control in being stuck because that is what may feel comfortable to you, what you are used to, so change may be scary. The reality that you are trapped with the same circumstance and uncertainty in your life can feel frustrating but also simultaneously comforting, because that is what you know or are used to.
How can you free yourself?
There is likely a deep psychological reason why you are stuck. It’s easier to blame others or a specific situation, but doing so actually reinforces the fact that you are stuck. Let’s start to unfold the multilayers of what it means to be stuck and help you move forward.
Write down one issue where you are feeling stuck. Reflect on the feeling you experienced or are currently experiencing. Is it anger, sadness, confusion, or fear of failure? Write down whatever comes up for you. Try to identify how you are feeling before asking yourself how you will learn and grow from this experience. At first, this idea may seem uncomfortable or bizarre, but consider this, you are likely holding on to these feelings because they in fact give you a sense of comfort or safety. The best way to move through these types of feelings is to be open and honest with yourself and not to judge. Ask yourself how you feel, why these feelings make you feel safe, or why you need to feel these feelings as a way to move forward in your life. As comfortable and easy as it may seem to stay with how you’re feeling, in reality, that’s what is keeping you where you are rather than allowing you to move forward, develop, and grow.
Do your best to identify how and why you are feeling stuck and ask yourself if that truly makes you feel good or is it in fact contributing to your unhappiness. The reality is, staying in those negative emotions and being stuck, does not in fact provide comfort but rather limits you from experiencing happiness and really enjoying your life. Taking the time to consistently be reflective and introspective will be truly beneficial to your wellbeing. Initially doing this type of practice can be difficult, and that is why working with a therapist can be a very valuable tool to help you start feeling better.
How can you move forward?
Moving forward is not only about giving yourself the permission to take the first step, but to actually take that first step. No one can do it for you but you. Putting yourself and your wellbeing first is not selfish, but rather an important part of your self-care. Taking the time to heal yourself does not mean that you are harming others, if anything, doing so will help improve your relationships and boundaries with the people in your life. People around you will adjust to the changes you made, not all will like it but this time it’s about you!
As you move forward, be clear with yourself about what is it you want from yourself and from life. One way to become aware of what you want is to write it down. This can be helpful because you will have your thoughts on a page, which you can reference when you forget, and you can also use to clearly express your thoughts to others.
Once you identify what it is that you want, moving forward with clarity will help you reach your objectives, goals, and aspirations. As you take that step, take the time to be reflective about your experience. Some questions you can ask yourself are: why am I taking this step, how will I be impacted in the short and long term as a result of this step, what will I learn from this experience. Be very clear with your intentions. If you are hesitant about moving forward, one question to keep in mind is ‘what’s the worst that can happen’? By expressing what scares you, you will feel more confident in your ability to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.
Once you decide to move forward, start doing so as quickly as you can. The longer you wait, the harder it can be to follow through. Setting a time limit or deadline based on the importance of the decision you are making can be helpful with going through that decision. Don’t forget that it’s okay if you fail and it’s okay if things don’t turn out exactly as you’d hoped they would. The important thing is that you identified your goals, took action, and then learned from the experience, good or bad.
As you liberate yourself from being stuck, you will realize a greater capacity for making big decisions in your life that can change your current situation and maximize the quality of your life. You do not have the power to change the people around you, but you do have the power over yourself and your own life. Because of this, it’s important that your energy and focus are focused on yourself. You never know, your friends and family could be inspired by the changes they see you making and try it for themselves!
If you are still hesitant about moving forward, a therapist can be extremely beneficial in guiding you through this process.