Feeling Stuck? Why We Can Feel Stuck and What Can Be Done About It

On this site, in the Solid Blog and on Wellness Wednesdays on The Spin, we discuss ongoing strategies, ideas and plans for sustaining ongoing foundation for mental health and wellness.
If you or anyone is struggling or in crisis right now, please call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room. Alternatively, crisis resources can be found here.

It’s my belief that we all feel some feeling of being stuck at some point in our lives.

In my experience, feeling stuck is a concern that brings many people to seek out therapy or coaching, or looking for some other resource to help to move forward and feel unstuck.

With that said, however, even if it is something that we might all experience in one way or another, it doesn’t necessarily make it easier to work through.

We can feel stuck about a lot of things:

  • Relationships
  • Work / career
  • Health-related habits
  • Everyday routines
  • Generalized feeling that “life feels stuck”, feeling as though life Is on a hamster wheel or Groundhog Day

The feeling of feeling stuck can be quite persistent.

And for some people, if the feeling goes on long enough, they end up resigning themselves to feeling that way.

Or it’s only when the feelings of being stuck becomes too much is when people are motivated to take action.

Some Ways We Can Feel Stuck

Feeling stuck can happen when you’re struggling with a situation that doesn’t feel quite right or not really aligned with your values.

It can also happen when significant life decisions may have previously been made based on the influence of others (parents, family or cultural pressures).

It might also be that unhelpful habits have been developed over time and it can feel as though it’s too late to change.

What Can Keep Us Feeling Stuck

It can be a very powerful feeling to believe that it’s too late or too hard or too ingrained.

We can feel that “things are good enough” or “the fear of failure” because of uncertainty can keep us from achieving our highest potential.

However, here’s a thought that might help:
The top regret discussed in the book, The 5 Top Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware is: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

What Can be Done About Feeling Stuck

You’ll notice that when people talk about being stuck, it’s usually phrased as “being stuck” or also, “feeling stuck”. 

So, the first thing to recognize is that these are feelings, and while it might feel like it, it’s highly unlikely that you’re completely stuck and without choices or options. 

And one way to think about feelings is that they are signals to let you know that something’s up.

Here’s a quick tip: What is one thing that you can do just 1% differently right now? Now go and do it. The small “win” can help motivate you to keep going and to potentially make other changes.

Ways to Work Through Feeling Stuck:

  • Examine your cognitive biases (aka “don’t believe everything you think.”) – We all have automatic thoughts, but many of us are unaware of our own biases shaped by our non-objective values and beliefs. For instance: commitment bias is sticking with a past decision to try and avoid feeling like we may have made a previous mistake or to be a “quitter” which can definitely impact the feelings of being stuck.
  • Develop More Effective Habits – It’s possible for things to change, but it usually doesn’t happen overnight.  As we discussed, the book Atomic Habits is a good place to start. Read more about it in one of my previous posts here.
  • Try Therapy, Counselling or Coaching – These processes can help to identify and to work through why you’re feeling stuck, what might be preventing you from moving toward change and figure out how it can be different.

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