Are you feeling stuck?
There’s a lot of ‘stuckness’ about at the moment and if it’s got you by the ankles don’t worry there are ways and means to get yourself free.
Why we get stuck
We’re busy people. Always rushing about here, there, and everywhere, doing, being, having and then something happens. It can be one thing, like when you’ve been asked to step into a new role and you have no idea how to handle this new level of responsibility or a gradual accumulation of frustrations, obstacles, and worry. Sometimes it’s because you don’t understand how, despite having a good life, great relationship, happy family, and awesome job you realise something is missing.
There are a couple of things to be clear about if you’ve found yourself stuck.
1. You are not crazy, and you don’t have a mental illness.
Sometimes ‘stuckness’ is accompanied by those horrible feelings of pent-up anxiety. You wake up with a sense of dread, or you’re nauseous from the sinking feeling of what the day may bring.
This doesn’t mean you have a diagnosable mental illness. Anxiety is your body’s way of telling you something’s going on and your discomfort is the way you know it’s time to do something about it.
The trouble with feeling stuck, is you’re either not sure what will help, or you’ve forgotten what you did last time you felt like this.
2. Your feelings are an indicator or signal that your mind is a bit discombobulated at present.
Remember, all feelings are temporary. This sticky situation too will pass.
Emotions are valuable sources of data.
And your thoughts are not facts. They are very often the stories we have created, because we are such wonderful and creative dramatists. The issue is that if you are telling yourself the same stories, over time they become your truths, embedded in your psyche as your beliefs.
If you’re feeling stuck, try to tap into what the underlying emotion is. Is it fear, despair, hopelessness?
Professor Bruce Arroll from Auckland University has been assisting people who are stuck for many years. He comes from a place where he sees feeling stuck as something that happens because you care.
When you care deeply about something or somebody but feel unable to be effective in how you care, this is where the stickiness can begin.
Caring is a wonderful human gift.
Sometimes we need to turn the lens around and remember to care about ourselves too.
Russ Harris author of the Happiness Trap: Stop Struggling, Start Living has spent much of his medical career helping others who are experiencing high levels of dissatisfaction with their lives along with feelings of stress, and anxiety.
In his books he talks about using ACT to get unstuck, this is also known as Acceptance, Commitment, Therapy. This has now been further developed into FACT, adding in focus to the process.
Getting unstuck: It’s a matter of FACT
- Focus on what you believe is keeping you stuck. Is it fear or a lack of purpose? What’s underneath these feelings?
- Accept this is currently how you feel. This automatically frees you from the burden of thinking there’s something wrong with you. Accept there may be things going on that are outside your locus of control. Wishing and hoping these will change is unhelpful. It’s time to stay focused on what is in your control and use this. Hold your feelings of discomfort lightly. This will help you deal with uncomfortable thoughts and feelings more easily.
- Get yourself out of your head and into your body. By getting moving you can start to alleviate those symptoms of stress and anxiety. Going for a daily walk, meeting up with a friend, spending time outside can all help. This is because as Professor Arroll says, “you can’t think your way out of being stuck.”
- Commit to self-discovery. Self-awareness includes self-compassion and kindness. It helps you to learn how to better tolerate the discomfort of distress and how to effectively reduce it. Life is messy, complicated and can cause us pain. This is a common shared human experience. If purpose and meaning is missing, ask what gives you joy? Which activities do you look forward to and enjoy? How can you include more of these in your life?
Feeling stuck is uncomfortable but it can be resolved, sometimes with the assistance of a counsellor or trained therapist.
What have you found helpful to get yourself out of a sticky situation?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.