It’s hard to deny the fact that life moves quickly and requires us to continually adapt and change. But sometimes we get stuck and we literally stand still while everything speeds around us.
Have you ever felt this sense of inertia in your life? It’s frustrating when we become aware of it and can’t figure out how to start moving forward again. I know. I’ve been there many times. After losing loved ones, my career twice, and through many transition periods in my life, I’ve been painfully stuck.
The good news is I’ve noticed the success and happiness I’ve found in my life has come from the bursts of clarity I’ve received from working through these times of inertia. The same will happen for you when you understand why you are getting stuck in the first place and what to do about it.
Being Stuck Is The Ride Of Your Life
Picture your life as a roller coaster ride. Most of the time you’re speeding along the tracks as the scenery whizzes by in a blur. Centrifugal force holds you safely as you make each sharp turn and flip upside down through loops in the track. This part of the ride is scary but it’s also fun and exciting. You feel very alive.
Then the roller coaster makes its long approach up the seemingly endless hill, slowly clicking you closer and closer to the sky. Just as you crest the very top of the hill, the roller coaster briefly comes to a complete stop. Those seconds feel like an eternity. You’re suddenly very focused on what’s going to happen next. You feel afraid because you don’t know what lies ahead. You start to anticipate the inevitable descent. Your imagination runs wild. There is a brief moment of sheer terror that seizes you and you wish you could just get off. And then the roller coaster starts moving forward again pulling you at death-defying speeds as it plummets you towards the earth. You realize you’re still alive and that your worst fears didn’t come true. You throw your hands in the air and scream excitedly. You’re back to living life in the present moment. You feel alive again.
3 Benefits of Being Stuck:
- Opens you up to receive clarity and new direction
- Indicates that a change is necessary and a breakthrough is around the corner
- Provides the opportunity for self-awareness and deeper self-love
The Real Reason We Get Stuck
Being stuck is simply the separation of self from living in the present moment. In other words, we get stuck when we are too far in front of ourselves (focused on the future) or too far behind our present self (too focused on the past).
When you are stuck, it means the way you are living is not in alignment with your true self at that moment in time. Suffering occurs as an emotional response to this misalignment with self. You feel frustrated, depressed and even anxious. Can you relate to this?
It’s important to note getting stuck can trigger strong emotions of guilt and shame if you are not self-aware. You feel bad that you’re stuck (you assume you must have done something to deserve this situation) and you can start to operate from the false pretense that you have to go about getting unstuck alone. This misperception can, unfortunately, keep you in this state of inertia longer than necessary.
Here’s What You Can Do About It
- Practice self-awareness to gain clarity. Getting unstuck first requires self-awareness. Examine your life carefully to determine what pattern you’re dealing with. Are you too focused on a future that’s unrealized or are you caught in a negative pattern from your past? You can’t change what you don’t understand, so the first step is self-reflection. This will help you figure out where you are in relationship to the present moment which is where happiness resides.
If you’re too far in front of yourself, you need to gain clarity on exactly what’s needed to help you move towards the future you are envisioning.
If you’re too far behind yourself, you need to find ways to break the negative patterns of your past that are preventing you from living in the present. Without self-awareness, you will remain stuck.
Here’s the good news, for many people, being stuck is the precursor for a breakthrough. Examining my own life, I can see this pattern. My success has often been preceded by times where I was stuck and frustrated. Be aware that this is also true for you as well and that you are on the verge of a breakthrough in your life.
- Write down a plan to gain forward momentum. Once you’ve gotten clarity, you need to identify a plan and specific actions that will help you move closer to present self. Doing this moves futurists out of the dreaming state by focusing their energy on specific actions needed to help them realize their future self. As they make small steps and accomplish each of the actions, they are forced to remain in the present.
For those who are stuck in the past, a plan will help provide you with hope and encouragement that there is a better way, one that’s attainable and within your reach. Taking small steps is progress and you will begin to feel more empowered as you move away from the negative patterns of the past towards your present self.
- Reach out to others to gain support. It’s important to remember that you are better served by not trying to go this alone. Find the courage and inner strength to reach out to family, friends, and mentors to let them know you are struggling. Their diverse perspectives will often help you see things that you previously were not aware of and this new knowledge can help you gain forward momentum again.
When I lost my job in 2007 and again in 2016, I reached out to several of my mentors to talk to them about how I was feeling and to ask for their advice and support. Knowing that I had this gave me the confidence and courage to start seeking a new direction in my career.
When I lost my youngest brother to cancer in 2015, I was overcome by fear and anxiety -my life had come to a complete standstill and I knew I needed to ask for help. Through the help of a counselor, I began to understand why I was suffering from this event in my life and what steps I could take to move forward again. I am certain, without doubt, that I would still be stuck today if I had tried to move through these difficult changes in my life alone. I encourage you to do the same, to ask for help and support when you are stuck.
- Be gentle with yourself and become aware of your self-talk. Moving through positive change doesn’t happen when you berate and punish yourself. It requires a deep sense of acceptance, self-love, and positive self-speak. Start replacing any negative thoughts with ones that are more positive and empowering.
“I’m a failure” becomes “I’m honing my craft and learning how to tap into my full potential.”
“I’m lost and directionless” becomes “I’m learning to better understand myself and what brings me happiness.”
“I’m not deserving of good things in my life” becomes “I’m working to forgive myself and let go of the past so I can embrace my own value.”
As you move through difficult transitions in your life, practice self-care and positive self-talk so you gain trust and confidence and understand your own unique value.
Getting stuck in life is part of our human collective experience and it’s necessary for our soul’s expansion. Everyone can relate to a time when this has happened in their life. It often indicates a breakthrough is around the corner. When we understand why we get stuck and the things we can do to get unstuck, we will start to gain forward momentum and enjoy the roller coaster of life once again. Hands up in the air. Screaming with excitement. Fully alive.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
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Elizabeth McKenzie, The Real Reason Your Stuck In A Rut; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elizabeth-mckenzie/success-and-motivation_b_4179483.html
Beverly D. Flaxington, Feeling Stuck In The Relationship?; https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/understand-other-people/201506/feeling-stuck-in-the-relationship
David Leigh Weber, Tired Of Being Stuck?; http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/tired-of-being-stuck
Martha Legace, Feeling Stuck? Getting Past Impasse; http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/feeling-stuck-getting-past-impasse