Do you feel stuck where you are in life? In your job, in a relationship, or maybe you are stuck in a negative feeling, like anger or resentment? Do you want to be able to get over it and move forward?
Join us for today’s conversation with Shira Gura, creator of the unSTUCK method. Shira helps our host, Gabe Howard, with his own personal stuck point and shares some powerful tools to help you feel calm, in control, and to get out of whatever muck you are stuck in!
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Guest information for ‘Unstuck New Year’ Podcast Episode
Shira Gura is a well-being coach on a mission to create an emotionally healthy world. Trained in psychology, occupational therapy, and yoga, Shira is the creator of The unSTUCK Method, author of the award-winning book, Getting unSTUCK: 5 Simple Steps to Emotional Well-Being, and host of the award-winning weekly podcast, Getting unSTUCK. Through her coaching services and self-awareness tools, she helps people understand and regulate their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors so they can feel calm, free and in control, and positively impact those around them. Shira lives in Israel with her husband and 4 children.
About The Psych Central Podcast Host
Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, Mental Illness is an Asshole and other Observations, available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from the author. To learn more about Gabe, please visit his website, gabehoward.com.
Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Unstuck New Year’ Episode
Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.
Announcer: You’re listening to the Psych Central Podcast, where guest experts in the field of psychology and mental health share thought-provoking information using plain, everyday language. Here’s your host, Gabe Howard.
Gabe Howard: Hello, everyone, and welcome to this week’s episode of the Psych Central Podcast. Calling into the show today, we have Shira Gura, who is a wellbeing coach on a mission to create an emotionally healthy world. She’s trained in psychology, occupational therapy, and yoga. She is the creator of the unSTUCK Method and author of the award winning book Getting unSTUCK: Five Simple Steps to Emotional Well-Being. She’s also a fellow podcaster hosting the award winning show Getting unSTUCK. Shira, Welcome to the show.
Shira Gura: Thank you so much for having me.
Gabe Howard: Well, it’s very exciting to have you, because I think many people do feel stuck. It’s something that people say all the time, you know, do you like your job? I feel stuck. You know, do you like where you are? I feel stuck. I feel that this is a very common thing that people feel. Is that what you found?
Shira Gura: Absolutely, it’s a word that seems to resonate with everybody. You can really take that word and take it in so many different directions. And, like you said, everybody knows what it feels like to feel stuck. Whether it’s stuck on anger or stuck on frustration, stuck on disappointments, stuck on anxiety, stuck on resentment, stuck on guilt. It doesn’t matter. Everybody knows what it feels like to feel stuck.
Gabe Howard: I couldn’t agree more because what you’re basically saying is that people feel like they can’t improve their current situation like however they feel today is how they’re going to feel forever. Is that how you’re using the word?
Shira Gura: Yes. So when somebody feels stuck, they feel kind of trapped in the situation that they’re in. They feel like they can’t see any other way of being or behaving in a situation. And so they feel powerless and they feel helpless.
Gabe Howard: And you decided to help people get unstuck. How did you get into this work?
Shira Gura: I actually got into this work by starting with myself, to be honest. So, I found myself getting stuck in lots of different areas of my life, and I found that even though I studied psychology and I studied occupational therapy and I was a yoga instructor, so I was doing mindfulness meditation a lot, I still felt that I didn’t have the tools that I needed to be able to move myself from a stuck situation to getting unstuck. So while I had mindfulness and I was able to kind of, you know, stop and notice what I was thinking or, you know, I could notice what I was feeling. I just didn’t feel equipped to be able to deal with my stuck spot. So all of this started by me looking at my own life, starting to journal and write out my stuck spots. And eventually over a period of about two or three years, I was writing every week I was blogging. I ended up creating this tool for myself. And that’s basically how this, how it all started.
Gabe Howard: That’s incredible. One of the primary reasons that I wanted to have you on the show was the popularity of mindfulness. We hear about it everywhere. There’s memes on social media. It’s a well understood thing, especially for people who are struggling in stuck situations. And you have a background in psychology. You have a background in occupational therapy, but you also have a background in yoga. So my question is, what do you say to the people that dismiss anxiety and stuck feelings and things like that with, oh, you just need to be mindful, because I imagine, given your background, you probably have an incredible answer to this question.
Shira Gura: Yeah, I mean, I can just talk about it personally, that it just wasn’t enough. I mean, the word mindfulness has become such a buzzword. It’s used all the time and it’s used for different activities from mindful walking to mindful eating, to mindful gardening, to mindful parenting. And it’s used so much. It’s almost become overused to the point that people don’t even know what it means to be mindful anymore. And so for me in my life, again, while I was practicing to try to be mindful, I didn’t feel like I had the action steps that I needed to be able to move myself out of a stuck spot. So, yes, I was able to be aware, right? I was able to be mindful. I am angry right now. Right. I can feel that I’m angry. I’m really upset with this person, I’m aware that. You know, I was being mindful. But it wasn’t enough. It just wasn’t enough to move me. And that’s what I was looking for. I was looking for something that would create a sense of flow from stuck to something else entirely where I could be calm and free and really feel in control of my emotions.
Gabe Howard: And where you could ultimately be happy and productive, and if not happy, certainly content and certainly not stuck.
Shira Gura: Yes. And fulfilled and feeling satisfied. I mean, for me, I think that the greatest emotion that I feel is I just feel free because when I feel stuck, I often feel like I’m trapped. You know, like there’s no other way of being. Of course, I’m going to be angry. You know, if he said it like this, of course I’m insulted. Why? How? You know. And when you get unstuck, you’re like you just feel free. You no longer are attached to that emotion anymore. So it’s powerful.
Gabe Howard: Let’s talk about the unSTUCK method. How does it work?
Shira Gura: So there are five steps. It is an acronym using the word STUCK. So S T U C K. And it works by basically walking yourself through every single step. It’s a step by step process. It’s very simple. It’s very easy to remember. And if you want, I can walk you through the method right now.
Gabe Howard: Yeah. So let’s start at the beginning. What does the S stand for?
Shira Gura: So I’ll tell you what it stands for. But before I tell you, what I’d like to do, if it’s possible, is to share some sort of stuck situation. Either you can share something that you’re in. Or I can share something that I’m in or I was recently in so that we can apply the steps to the story so that the listeners will have a better understanding of how to use each step. Is that possible?
Gabe Howard: I think that is an absolutely great idea. So given that it is now 2020, here we are in a brand new year, a brand new decade, I’m kind of stuck on being 43 years old. I just thought that by the time I was this age in the roaring 20s, I would have achieved more. So sincerely, there’s that moment that you look at your life and you think, oh, I should be further ahead. So that’s probably my biggest stuck feeling at the moment.
Shira Gura: Ok, great. That’s a great one to use, and I’m sure there’s a lot of listeners that are feeling something similar to that, so let’s go with that. So the first step of the STUCK method is the S, and that stands for Stop. And so the STUCK method is basically created and it’s based on like the best of the best modalities in psychology. So it’s based on mindfulness, it’s based on CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, and it’s based on compassion based therapy. So the S is the mindfulness piece. So this is the moment where you notice that you’re feeling stuck. You notice that you are maybe overthinking something or you’re going down a rabbit hole of just like thinking and thinking or getting more and more emotional. And the first thing that we need to do is stop. Now, stopping doesn’t mean stop thinking. Because, of course, we can’t stop ourselves from thinking. But what it does mean is it means redirecting your attention to something that’s in the present moment. So, for example, it could be for a moment bringing yourself to your breath and staying with the breath, even if it’s just for one complete breath. That is an example of a stop. So, you know, if I were coaching you and you were telling me this is your story about how you’re feeling about your age and the year that you’re in, and you should be feeling that you should be, you know, farther ahead, I would suggest to you, OK, let’s just take a moment before we continue to go through the method. Let’s take a stop. And I would invite you to take a deep breath in and notice your breath and exhale. And then we would go onto the next step. And of course, sometimes it would be longer, you know, in a coaching session. But we’re not going to do a full coaching session here.
Gabe Howard: I like the notion of just stopping. It’s kind of simple, you know, notice that you’re here, notice the possibilities, but you have to stop in order to start something else and taking that deep breath. That’s a good way to do it. And as you said, it is based on mindfulness principles, which while it has become a buzzword, I do think that people can relate to. So I’ve now stopped. So now I’m ready to move on to the T in the words STUCK.
Shira Gura: Right. So the T represents the word Tell. And this is the step where we access our emotions. So this is where we ask ourselves, what are we stuck on? Which emotion or which emotions are we feeling right now in this situation? And so I would ask you, what emotion are you feeling?
Gabe Howard: I feel a sense of loss. I feel like I’ve lost time, I’ve lost opportunity. And I also feel a sense that maybe I’ve just lost the chance to have a different life. Like now that I’m over 40, whatever life I have is the life that I will always have.
Shira Gura: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. OK. We’ll stay with that one emotion for now. There is a good chance that you’re feeling a lot of different emotions that will stick with this one for now, the feeling of loss. And so in this step, what I encourage people to do is notice their language and notice how they’re talking about themselves. Often when we feel an emotion, let’s say I’m feeling angry. I’ll say I’m angry. But when I say it that way, I’m unconsciously identifying with that emotion. Right. I’m saying I’m Shira, I’m angry. As if Shira and anger are one and the same. But of course, I’m not an angry person all the time. I just happen to feel angry right now. And so I encourage people to just notice their language. And instead of saying I’m angry or I’m whatever their emotion is, to say I’m stuck on the noun. Right. So I’m stuck on anger or I’m stuck on disappointment. And when you make that slight little tiny shift in the language, what it does is it helps your brain recognize that you’re stuck on something that’s temporary and just like you got stuck on it, you can also get unstuck from it. And so I would ask you to say that. To say it like right now that I’m stuck on?
Gabe Howard: I’m stuck on loss. I’m stuck on loss.
Shira Gura: Yeah. OK. Good.
Gabe Howard: We’ll be right back after these messages.
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Gabe Howard: We’re back discussing the unSTUCK method with creator Shira Gura.
Shira Gura: So the next step, after we recognize the emotions, we go to the U. And this is for Uncover and this is where we access our thoughts. Because basically when you’re stuck, you’re stuck on what I call a story. And stories are comprised of thoughts and emotions. And in order to get unstuck, we need to disentangle this story from between the thoughts and the emotions and really look at them and investigate them. So we need to understand, what are you thinking? Because every single stuck spot that we come into is because of a thought. It’s because of an uninvestigated thought. To be honest. And so we need to look at our thoughts and we need to investigate them. And look at the truth of them. So just like in the T step where we look at our language, it’s the same thing in the U step. I encourage people to state their thoughts by starting with I believe. And the reason I ask people to started out with, I believe, is because it also helps you to just notice that you might be saying something that might be a belief. It might not be a, you know, a hard and fact truth. So I would ask you, why are you feeling loss? Why are you feeling the sense of loss? Now, you already told me, you know, you already answered a couple and I’ll just I’ll reflect back if that’s OK with you?
Gabe Howard: Yes, please, please. Thank you.
Shira Gura: Ok. So one of them is that you believe that you should be further ahead than you are right now. Right?
Gabe Howard: Yes, that is true.
Shira Gura: OK. And I think another thing you said was that you believe that you’ll always be in life like where you are now because you’re past 40. So this is where you’re always going to be. Is that right?
Gabe Howard: Yes. That that is a belief that I hold very, very dearly, actually.
Shira Gura: Ok. OK, great. So what we do in this step, you know, if we had an hour together, we would really uncover all of the thoughts that are there. But we’ll work with these two. What we do is we need to do is really investigate those thoughts and ask ourselves if what we’re thinking is 100 percent true. Because most of the thoughts that come into our minds, they’re not 100 percent true, but we believe they are. And then we act as if they are. And then that’s kind of what our reality is. Our reality is basically whatever we think. So I’ll ask you, you said, I I believe, I should be further ahead than where I am now. And I would ask you. Is that 100 percent true?
Gabe Howard: I would think that it was not 100 percent true because there’s really no metric to where you should be at any given age, especially for adults. I mean, you could argue for children that 5 year olds go to kindergarten, I guess, but. But yeah, I would say that it’s largely untrue. It’s based on an idea that I have in my own head.
Shira Gura: Right. Right. And so often I’ll say to people when I’m asking these questions and they’re like, well, I don’t know if it’s true or not, I would ask them, can I prove it in a court of law?
Gabe Howard: Oh, yeah. No, no, I could never prove this in a court of law.
Shira Gura: Right. Right.
Gabe Howard: I like that. I like that.
Shira Gura: Ok. So it’s a belief that you have about you. Right. Maybe I might be looking at your life and I might say, oh, my gosh, like look how look how far he’s come. And he’s only forty three. Right?
Gabe Howard: Yes.
Shira Gura: So. Right. This is a thought that’s in your mind. And so because it can’t be proven in a court of law, because not every single person in the whole world is going to believe the same thing, then it’s not true. It’s not 100 percent true. It’s a belief that you have in your mind and you are used to thinking it. I would agree with that. But it’s not 100 percent true. And we’ll just look at the second one, which is, you know, I believe that basically this is where I am. I’m in my 40s, and life is always going to be like this. Is that 100 percent true?
Gabe Howard: Oh, yeah. I mean, now it’s such nonsense, right? The idea that you could keep life the same if you wanted to is just. What is it? The only thing that’s guaranteed in the world is change. I couldn’t stay this way if I tried. So, no, it’s not true at all. Not true at all.
Shira Gura: Right. Right. Great. OK. So basically what we’re doing in this step, in the U step, we want to investigate our beliefs and we need to find at least one belief that’s not 100 percent true, because once you find at least one belief that’s not 100 percent true in your story, that opens a window of opportunity for you to look for other perspectives, other possible viewpoints of looking at your situation that might be even more true and that might make you feel better. So this is the C step and the C stands for Consider. And this is where we start to expand our mind. We try to really exercise our mind muscles and look at what other ways that we might look at the situation, what else is possible, what is in the realm of possibility? It doesn’t mean you need to marry these statements. It just means you need to kind of exercise the mind and look at what else is possible. So if I were to start off the sentence, I can consider… How would you fill in the rest of the sentence? Like if you said before, I should be further ahead. And now I’m asking you, fill in the sentence I can consider…?
Gabe Howard: I can consider that I have a lot more life to do and that the things that I am working on will continue to grow and advance and expand. So I suppose if I boil that all down, I can consider the idea that I am still growing and living as a person and the best is yet to come.
Shira Gura: That’s an awesome consideration. How does that feel?
Gabe Howard: I mean, it feels a lot better than thinking that I’m stuck with everything I have today for the rest of my life. It’s a lot more empowering and freeing. Right. We started this out with, oh, everything I have is garbage. And we’re here not even all the way through. We’re on the C step. And now I’m considering the possibility that there’s more to come and good stuff.
Shira Gura: Yes. Yes. So that’s amazing. And so in this step, you know, if we were again working for like an hour, I would say, let’s take ten minutes. Let’s just like write out all the different considerations that we can come up with. And I would help you and then you would have to pick one. Just one where you felt like, yes, I believe this because you have to believe it. If you don’t believe it, it’s not worth anything. But you’re saying, yes, I believe it. And I can go back out into the world with this new thought. So is the thought that you had that you just gave me, is that something that you feel like you can take on? That you can believe? You can go back out into the world with this new thought instead of the original one?
Gabe Howard: I think that there will be challenges as I am a naturally pessimistic person. But yes. Yes, I think that considering that life can be better than it is now is something that I do believe. Otherwise, I would just stop working immediately. It’s probably a belief that I already have. It just sort of gets buried under other things.
Shira Gura: Yeah. So what’s wonderful about this tool is once you acquire it, you basically can use it at any time. So it’s not to say that you’re never going to get stuck again on that feeling of loss. You’re never going to go back to that. Those thoughts of like, you know, nothing’s gonna change or I should be in a different place. You still might slip back into that by default. But once you recognize you’re stuck, you can say, OK, now I have this tool, I’m gonna take myself through the steps and I’m gonna get myself unstuck. So that’s really the power of having a tool like this. Like you said, it’s empowering and it just changes almost instantly. It can change the way you feel.
Gabe Howard: And now we’re at K, the last letter of STUCK.
Shira Gura: Yes. So K stands for Kindness, and the truth of the matter is you really get unstuck in the C step. And the truth of the matter is you could just walk away with the C step. Once you consider something, you can just say, you know, I consider that. I got it. I’m unstuck. But I purposefully included this last step in this tool, because oftentimes when we get stuck, like if you can imagine what your face looked like when I was asking you. Like, what are you stuck on? Oftentimes, you know, it doesn’t look so good. You know, we get stuck. It’s kind of a negative situation. And so sometimes we can really be really hard on ourselves for getting stuck in the first place or getting stuck again. And we can get stuck on guilt or embarrassment or, you know, self resentment or shame, you know, for having had gotten stuck. And so the last step is K, represents Kindness and this is the compassion part of the practice. What I actually do is I take my hands and I put them on my heart and I go back to the T step. And I remember what I got stuck on, which emotion. And I say to myself, Shira, you know, you got stuck on anger and it’s okay. You are human. And this is a natural human tendency to get stuck and it’s okay and everyone gets stuck. And it’s this opportunity for you to really hold yourself in self-compassion because there might not be other opportunities for you to receive that compassion from other people. And so it’s built into this tool for you to do that for yourself.
Gabe Howard: I really like the K. We need to be kind to ourselves. We wouldn’t accept other people being mean to us without having bad feelings about it. I mean, even if we don’t stop them from doing it, we still feel badly that it occurred. And then we beat ourselves up and we just sort of let it go. I think that the world needs more people being kind to themselves and then hopefully that will lead them to be kind to others and it will lead them to being completely unstuck.
Shira Gura: Yep, that sounds wonderful to me.
Gabe Howard: I like it. So just to recap real quick, we’ve got S T U C K and that stands for?
Shira Gura: Stop, Tell, Uncover, Consider, and Kindness.
Gabe Howard: Thank you so much. Where can folks find you and where can they find your book?
Shira Gura: They can find me on my Web site, which is ShiraGura.com, and my book is there on my Web site. It’s also on Amazon and they can also find me on Facebook. I have a Facebook group called the Getting unSTUCK Tribe so they can find me over there and join me daily. And they can also check out my podcast called Getting unSTUCK.
Gabe Howard: And Getting unSTUCK, is it available on i-Tunes? Google Play and all the important podcast players?
Shira Gura: It’s available everywhere.
Gabe Howard: It’s available everywhere. Wonderful. Again, thank you so much for being on the show. I’ve learned a lot about me and I’m positive that the listeners are gonna get a lot out of it as well.
Shira Gura: Thank you so much for having me. It was an enjoyable conversation.
Gabe Howard: You’re very, very welcome, and listen up, everybody, here’s what I need you to do. Wherever you downloaded this podcast, please give us as many stars as you feel comfortable with. But take the extra step and write a review. Use your words and tell people why they should listen in. Share us on social media. We also have a Facebook group over at PsychCentral.com/FBShow. Please join and suggest anything that you want, or just talk back to me, Gabe. I’d love to hear from you there. And remember, you can get one week of free, convenient, affordable, private online counseling anytime, anywhere, simply by visiting BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. We will see everybody next week.
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