Last month I talked about ways we unknowingly keep ourselves stuck. In this post, I share useful strategies to get moving again and ultimately enjoy more of what you want!
Simple Strategies for Un-Sticking Yourself
The experience of being stuck isn’t pleasant. People tend to disengage with and distract themselves to avoid feeling this way.
But being at an impasse is an important, perhaps even necessary, part of change. Being stuck can be a powerful indicator of the need to take action. When you are willing to stay connected with yourself, the process of becoming unstuck can produce wonderful changes inside you.
Here are 6 strategies I’ve found helpful when you feel stuck.
1. Acknowledge You Feel Stuck
Typically when we feel stuck, we spend our energy ignoring what’s happening, wishing it were different or brainstorming how to fix it. We rarely stop to acknowledge that we feel stuck.
So my first suggestion is to find a quiet place to sit or lie. Take a moment to settle in and feel the contact you make with the chair, bed or floor. When you’re ready, say out loud, “I feel stuck.” Then, without judgement or trying to change it, just be with your direct experience of stuck-ness.
You might find yourself taking a big, spontaneous in-breath, noticing tense muscles, having a sense of relief or swelling with emotion. Maybe you’ll feel numb. Perhaps you’ll hear a voice that’s usually drowned out in the noise of your life.
When you pause to acknowledge the reality of what you feel with gentleness, you begin to befriend your experience. Yes, you’re feeling stuck and what if nothing is wrong? What if you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be?
2. Move Your Body
Movement is a great way to shake off the mental and physical feelings of being stuck. Go take a walk, go swimming, work in your garden, put on some music and dance—whatever you enjoy. If possible, get outside and reap the many restorative benefits of being in nature.
Being stuck creates paralysis and stillness, so sometimes getting unstuck is as simple as getting yourself moving.
3. Ask Yourself Questions
We humans are quick to try to find answers, jump to conclusions and make predictions. However, most things in life don’t have simple answers nor do we know for sure what will happen. This way of thinking keeps us within the realm of our existing habits and what we already know—the very things that have led us to being stuck.
Rather than making assumptions or forecasting the future, try asking yourself open-ended questions. Some examples of questions you might ask are:
What do I really want right now?
- How does staying stuck keep me safe?
- What’s the worst thing that could happen if I do/don’t do [that thing]?
- What inner resources do I forget that I have?
- What am I ready to let go of?
- What would it be like to give myself permission to do [this thing]?
The mere act of asking questions with honest curiosity is enough to halt mind chatter and create an opening for something new. Note the answers that come to you, but refrain from seizing on one. Instead, allow there to be multiple, perhaps contradictory, answers—and even ones that inspire more questions!
Another experiment to try is to choose one or two questions you find the most intriguing. You might write them down on your calendar or post them at your desk. Let these essential questions percolate in the background of your conscious and unconscious mind as you go through your week. This is a great way to tap into your inner wisdom and creativity, creating the conditions for new realizations or energy to move you out of being stuck.
4. Get Support
Being stuck can lead to feeling there is something wrong with you. You may feel lazy or ashamed, and those feelings can cause you to isolate. You don’t want to bother others by asking for help or think doing so is a sign of weakness or failure.
The truth is that everyone gets stuck, and we need others to help us find our way forward. So ask for support, be it someone to just listen, normalize your ‘stuckness’, give you a pep talk or provide practical help.
Part of being stuck is feeling isolated. So sometimes the first steps are those that take you to the doorstep of a trusted friend or family member!
5. Challenge Your Mind’s Stories
It’s normal to have pessimistic thoughts and stories when you feel stuck. These aren’t a problem unless you believe them.
When you have negative thoughts don’t fight or try to push them away. Instead, acknowledge them with kindness. Then it is important to question them, especially the negative ones. You might ask, “Is this really true? How do I know it’s true? Can I think of any examples (not only from my life but the lives of anyone I know) where that wasn’t the case?”
Challenging your thoughts helps you stay in reality rather than being caught in the terrible tales your mind might conjure. Plus, inclining your mind toward optimism greases the road to possibilities.
6. Take the First Step (then Celebrate It)!
Fortunately, you don’t have to be perfect or have everything figured out in order to take an initial step toward unsticking yourself.
Can you be kind enough to yourself to allow your first steps to be modest ones? I hope so! Is it ok to start down path without a fully-formed goal in mind? Of course it is! Suppose you settled for “good enough” instead of requiring your efforts to be impeccable? Ah, what a relief!
Sometimes small steps aren’t as big as you’d like. You might actually be moving but still feel stuck because you over-look or dismiss what you have achieved. I encourage you to celebrate (or at the very least, recognize) the progress you do make, no matter how small. And remember, even mistakes and failure are part of moving forward!
And Through It All, Be Kind to Yourself
We often block the natural processes necessary to move through to get our ship sailing again. Remember, the attitude you have toward yourself is biggest factor to getting back in motion. Just bringing kindness and acceptance to yourself during the challenge of being stuck is often the very first step to freeing yourself.
Staying connected with yourself in the midst of being stuck takes patience and courage, but the rewards are well worth it. I hope these strategies give you the kick start you need to move through the challenge (and opportunities) of being stuck!
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