We all have had moments when we felt “stuck” or like we’ve hit a wall. Being stuck is an inner feeling of stagnation and paralysis that feels beyond our control. And feeling stuck causes us to feel hopeless about our lives and powerlessness to change it.
When we feel stuck, we question our core purpose, our life’s path, and even our past and future decisions. Feeling stuck makes our lives seem confusing, hopeless and uninspired, and it’s not a surprise to learn that feeling stuck often underlies anxiety, sadness, depression and substance abuse.
So what causes us to feel stuck? As with all things personal and psychological, the causes underlying “feeling stuck” are complex and often unique to an individual’s life and personal history, so there’s no easy or clear answer. However, with that being said, some of the most common causes include:
- Fear of making mistakes
- Feelings of powerless and hopeless
- Discomfort with trying new things and getting out of your comfort zone
- No longer feeling curious to try new things
- Self-neglect by putting others’ need in front of your own
- Unrealistic self-imposed expectations
Although these are common feelings that everyone can experience, it’s important to remind ourselves that all change begins within us and that we are our own agents of change.
Below are five things you can do now to help you get moving and feel “un-stuck:”
- Curb self-talk that begins with “I have to…” and “I should…”. This kind of self-talk makes us feel automatic, oppressed and stagnate.
- Make self-care a priority. Take charge of your physical and emotional needs. When we make sure our needs are met, we are telegraphing a message to our selves and those around us, that we matter and we’re important. This type of attitude is crucial for implementing change when feeling stuck and replaces feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness with the feelings of hope and optimism.
- Every day, do at least one thing you enjoy. Whatever that is — whether it is reading, working out, or just sitting and relaxing — make it a priority as much as your other responsibilities, like working, paying the bills, and taking care of family. Doing the things we love brings new and positive energy into our lives.
- Take a break from social media. Several studies indicate that social media can make it hard for us to let go of our past, has a negative impact on our self-esteem, induces envy, and inhibits us from having substantial relationships. All of the above can contribute to feeling stuck. Limiting or taking a complete break from social media gives us time back to focus on pursuing personal goals and helps us to live in the moment.
- Be OK with feeling stuck. This may sound counter intuitive, but it’s not. Sometimes the more we resist an emotion or thought, the stronger it becomes. Feeling stuck from time to time is normal. Instead of thinking it is wrong or bad to feel stuck, allow yourself to be present in this emotion so your mental energy can go towards figuring out what changes need to be made to move forward, rather than focusing your energy on self-criticism about feeling stuck in the first place.
- Do something outside of your comfort zone. Living life only within our comfort zone inhibits us from growing in countless ways. Figure out what you’d like to try but have been hesitant to act on because of fear or self-doubt. Make a conscious effort to become aware of what gives you a deep sense of joy and excitement.