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The #1 Thing You Need to Do When You Are Stuck in a Rut

what to do when you're in a rut“Many people are in a rut and a rut is nothing but a grave.”

Have you ever heard this quote before? It came from the mouth of Vance Havner, and it sure packs a punch! Feeling unhappy is something we like to avoid, but it happens to all of us at some point. Feeling miserable and being stuck there is bound to happen as well. The very nature of life guarantees us times when we will feel this way, no matter what we do.

So how do we climb out of this dark place when our turn comes? What is the quickest way to go from miserable to happy? New York Times best selling authors Esther and Jerry Hicks believe we can climb out of any situation by taking one step. In their book The Astonishing Power of Emotions, they reveal how following the right thoughts can take us to unimaginable heights.

It All Starts with a Thought

Any emotion we feel is derived from the thoughts we are thinking. When we think a thought, we then feel a subsequent emotion based on that thought.

Try it now for yourself. Think of a time in your life where you were the most excited. Take the time to really re-experience that excitement. Do you feel anything in your body? You might have felt your stomach tingle or an energy surge. In their book, the Hicks illustrate how our thoughts are directly related to our emotions. When we are at our lowest, we tend to think unproductive thoughts, which cause our undesirable emotions. So what helps us up when we are down? The feeling of relief, according to Hicks. In the book, we are taught how we can feel instant relief by choosing a thought that feels better than the last. The following is an example of how to choose a better thought.

Original thought: “I hate my dead end job and feel so unsatisfied in my personal life too.”

Thought that provides relief: “I hate my dead end job and feel so unsatisfied in my personal life, but my health is fine so I guess it could be worse.”

Small Is Powerful Too

Neither of these thoughts feel particularly good or sound like a happy person, but the relief thought feels slightly better than the original. That is the trick. Hick says, “it is about focusing your attention in the direction of your desire rather than looking back at the current conditions that have given birth to your desire.”

By reaching for a slightly better thought, we are able to make a small shift. Every time we reach for that better thought, we feel slightly better. We climb that ladder until we are thinking positive thoughts, which ultimately cause desirable emotions. And when we feel better, we do better.

“Though you may very well eventually become inspired to some action, it is the alignment of our thoughts with our desires that we should be seeking,” says Hick. We learn that momentum builds with this type of thought process, and the chances of feeling and doing better increases exponentially, every time you choose a better thought. You can see how this snowball effect works in the following example.

Climbing One Thought at a Time

“I hate my dead end job and feel so unsatisfied with my partner too.”
“I hate my job and relationship, but my health is fine so I guess it could be worse.”
“I really do hate my job and relationship, but at least I have friends that I have a good time with.”
“I wish I could have a good time with my partner, just like I do with my friends.”
“Why can’t my partner and I enjoy each other? What can I do differently to change that?”
“If I can change the dynamic of our relationship, that would be amazing.”
“If I can change my relationship, then maybe I can change the state of my job, too.”
“If I make some changes within, in the way that I approach my job, there is a chance things can improve.”
“If things don’t improve with my job, then maybe its time for me to try something else.”
“Trying something new actually sounds pretty interesting.”
“I’m excited to try some new things in my current job and with my partner.”
“I’m really curious about what life has in store for me!”

The Sky Is The Limit

This is exactly how we climb out of a dark place, one thought at a time. Which leads one to wonder… if getting out of a rut can be done by choosing better thoughts, then what heights can we reach when we are doing well? The Hicks believe this technique is highly effective for getting out of a funk, but can also be applied to any frame of mind. With this technique, the only way to go is up! For more information, check out The Astonishing Power Of Emotions by Esther and Jerry Hicks.


Esther and Jerry Hicks, (2007) “The Astonishing Power of Emotions: Let Your Feelings Be Your Guide” Chapter 5: Your emotions are absolute indicators, (pp. 25)
Carlsbad, California, USA: Hay House Publishing

The #1 Thing You Need to Do When You Are Stuck in a Rut

Nicole Taffs

Nicole Taffs is a writer who blogs about turning sensitivities into assets for After struggling as a highly sensitive empath, she began her journey towards self-acceptance, developing new beliefs, and turning her sensitivities into gifts that serve others and well as herself. You can follow The Sensitive Life on Facebook (thesensitivelifeca).

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APA Reference
Taffs, N. (2018). The #1 Thing You Need to Do When You Are Stuck in a Rut. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 4, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 24 Sep 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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