Many times, we feel stuck in life. You may feel like you are stuck in a relationship, in a job or in life in general. It happens to all of us. It’s a shitty mixture of feeling paralyzed, depressed, overwhelmed, hopeless, being in doubt about the future and many other similar negative feelings.
You may not have suicidal thoughts, but feeling stuck can often go even so far that you may just want things to be over (with your life). It’s definitely not a pleasant feeling.
You usually get stuck after making a series of bad decisions. It can be a few major bad decisions like getting into business with the wrong person, making a big bad investment etc. or several small bad decisions like not taking care of your body daily, drinking too much alcohol, not following your True North, ignoring your feelings etc.
No wonder that people most often feel stuck in their:
- Own body – illness, being overweight
- Mind – bad thinking patterns
- Key relationships – boss, coworkers, spouse, family, social groups
- In a job or career
- In money-related things, or even in negative market trends
- In constant unhappiness
- In a lack of creativity or intellectual stimulation or a lack of hope or having no direction in life and similar.
The most important question is: what should you do when you are feeling stuck?
You are not really stuck, there is something else
Here’s the good news. If you are feeling stuck, you aren’t really stuck. You are only spending your time, energy and other resources wrong. There is nothing else. It’s more than obvious that doing the same things and expecting a different result is crazy. It’s actually the official definition of craziness.
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You aren’t stuck, you’re only spending your precious time, energy and other resources wrong. You aren’t following your True North.
In reality, you can’t be really stuck, because life always goes on. Your seconds of being alive are passing by. Everything is moving and going forward, and so are you. You can’t stop time, so you can’t be stuck. You can only be making wrong decisions about spending your resources. You can only be committed to the ill life strategy.
If you are asking yourself why you’re doing that, there is a very simple answer. Because in comparison, the pain of being stuck is smaller than the pain of freeing yourself and doing something about it. There are certain benefits to being stuck you are enjoying. They can be enjoying the comfort zone, emotional security, financial security, being used to people and things, and so on. Deep down, you know very well what it is.
You feel stuck because things are too bad to stay and too good to leave.
Most people wait until the pain of being stuck becomes much bigger than doing something, just anything. And by then it’s usually far too late to constructively solve a problem without severe damage. People wait until they get a serious disease, go bankrupt, the relationship becomes extremely abusive, they burn out or experience a psychological collapse because of work pressure.
Yes, at some point the pain of not acting becomes too strong. But there’s a rule. Kill the monster when it’s still small. Well, don’t kill anything, but you get the point.
The more you ignore the monster, the bigger and stronger it becomes, and it’s going to eat you sooner or later. If you don’t act as soon as possible, a collapse is inevitable, and waiting until the collapse is a sure way to completely destroy your life.
So the first exercise you should do is to list all the benefits you are enjoying while being stuck. They are usually deep psychological and emotional reasons that drive you to cling to a certain situation. What’s so good about it? What are you really afraid of?
You may feel like you don’t deserve to be happy, that you aren’t good enough, you may be afraid of financial insecurities, that you won’t meet a new person who can treat you better etc. There is always a deep psychological reason why you cling to where you are and you must become aware why you’re doing that. Usually you also lack self-confidence in that area big time.
When you are feeling stuck, solution is in craziness
The solution for freeing yourself when you feel stuck lies in craziness. What do I mean by that? If being crazy means doing the same things and expecting a different result, then starting to do different things will bring you a new result. Yes, it’s that simple – you aren’t stuck, you’re just spending your resources wrong. That means you have to start directing your resources (time, energy, money, creativity etc.) into a new direction.
You must start doing different things and you must start doing things differently. That's all.
When we talk about starting to do different things, there are two ways you can go. You can start making even worse decisions like start drinking alcohol, blaming other people, start gambling etc. or you can start making better decisions. The latter is what we are looking for, but I hope that is obvious.
What’s really important is that there is a simple solution for feeling stuck that I have seen over and over again. When somebody feels stuck, the moment they start doing a small new task they haven’t been doing before to change their situation, a big burden lifts off their shoulders.
The first step is the hardest but when you do it, a whole new world opens up to you. You can start feeling the energy flowing again. It usually takes only a small kick and the soul boat starts drifting again on the river of life.
Kick yourself a little bit in the butt and life will start flowing again.
If you want to live the life you want, you have to put yourself first, be a little bit rebellious and stand up for yourself. You’re feeling stuck because you are putting yourself in a position of a victim. It’s the worst kind of mindset you can operate from. So push yourself out of the victim mindset.
Nobody gets the quality life they want handed to them on a silver platter; we must all fight for it. Life owes you nothing, it was here first. The important fact is that life rewards those who master its rules. And one of the important rules of life is acting or, according to the Nike slogan, “Just do it”.
But when you act, you have to observe the feedback you are getting from the environment and from your inner self, and if it’s not working, you have to act differently. It’s that simple.
Answer three simple questions and do one small thing
So if you’re feeling stuck, gather all the energy, motivation, will and determination that’s left in you and make three simple choices, answer three very simple questions:
- What are you willing to stop doing?
- What are you willing to start doing?
- What is the smallest single step you can take into a new direction?
This one single step is really important. It can be getting a massage as a signal to life that you are putting yourself first, it may be updating your CV and then sending it to a few companies, it may be showing with your behavior that you have enough of being abused, or it might simply be reading a book.
It may be getting up a little bit earlier and meditating, it can be deciding to let it go or anything else that will serve as a signal that you aren’t stuck anymore.
One small act is usually the tipping point that gets you going again. You have to do one single thing you haven’t ever done since feeling stuck, and then piggy-back further positive changes on that one epiphany moment.
One single act is often the only thing you need to start feeling unstuck. So do it now!
Why does it work? Because it’s a simple reminder that you possess all the power necessary to change your life situation. At any time and in any place. Nobody can take that away from you. You are the one who chooses who to spend time with, where to focus your energy and what you will do with your life.
If you are deep in shit, stop digging.
Understanding global and local maximum when feeling stuck
In mathematics, there is a concept known as local and global maximum. It’s an important concept that can also be applied to a personal life.
A global maximum is the point where you would enjoy life the most, achieve your true peak performance and maximize all the potentials you have.
Honestly, it’s pretty hard to achieve that point and it takes a special kind of character. It takes an enormous amount of experimentation through the search mode, and you often have to change many diets, partners, careers and behavioral patterns.
Then there is the local maximum. The local maximum means maximizing your quality of life and success levels in different areas with your current life settings. You search for a position and behavior for yourself that gives you the most out of your current life situation.
- Global maximum: Completely changing your life settings – you make one or several new big decisions (like changing a job, getting a divorce, saving all the money possible etc.)
- Local maximum: Maximizing your quality of life in current life settings – you start making small better decisions (like letting go, getting a new hobby, changing your behavior towards a person, slowly paying off your loan according to a plan etc.).
Now, why are those two concepts important? Many times, it’s obvious what the best thing to do is when people are feeling stuck. You don’t like your job, change it. Your partner is abusive, leave them.
But the problem is that things rarely get so bad that the pain of staying would be greater than the pain of doing something and leaving. The benefits of staying (either emotional, material or whichever security) are bigger than the effort necessary to act in a big way.
It’s kind of a “too good to leave, too bad to stay” situation, but most people decide to stay. Because things aren’t painful enough, even though they are getting worse. So acting is absolutely better than doing nothing.
If you know that going after a new maximum is just too much for you (changing a job, getting a divorce etc.), do something small that will maximize your current situation. There is always something you can do to be in a better position.
- You can change yourself
- You can negotiate
- You can communicate differently
- You can start treating yourself better
- You can set strict boundaries
- You can strategically protect yourself
It’s a no-brainer that you are feeling stuck if you see your only option as leaving or giving up on something that is dear to you, but at the same time you know you can’t do that, it’s just too hard. Well, admit that to yourself and do something to maximize your quality of life in current life settings.
If you can go after completely new life settings and draw the line in the sand, do it. But if you know you can’t undertake a different road to get unstuck, do something new and small that will get you to feel unstuck in current life settings.
To find out whether you should go (if you are ready to go) for a new maximum or stay at the local maximum, simply employ optimal thinking. Ask yourself: What is the best thing I can do in my current situation to get back on track? Your intuition will tell you what to do.
“Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.” Will Rogers
Nevertheless, if you decide to stay at your current life settings, make sure you protect yourself. Things will probably get worse and you must be ready for it. Make sure you’re building options for yourself in current life settings. If things get much worse at some point, the transition will be smoother. If not, learn to enjoy life under current settings, but be prepared. Play your cards smart.
If you’re feeling stuck, start playing and free yourself
To get unstuck, you have to be more assertive, there is no other way. An important truth of life is that if you want to function well, you have to be a healthy assertive person.
A healthy assertive person is a person who likes themselves as they are, has a strong sense of self and their autonomy, has no problems with their needs being met, knows how to express feelings, knows where they’re going in life and what they want, is not afraid of conflict, knows how to set boundaries, takes initiative and contributes creative ideas.
There is no stuck in the definition of an assertive person.
So you have to start treating and listening to yourself better. You have to stop abusing yourself or letting yourself be abused. When feeling stuck, there is nothing but a lot of abuse.
Instead start loving yourself, build up your self-confidence, become assertive and start playing again, like a kid. A kid who plays, can’t be stuck. If you are really so stuck that you have zero ideas on what to do, here’s a few of them:
- Challenge your fears, just a little bit
- Break your routine with something new
- Change the way you think and look at things
- Start communicating with a new behavior
- Do something extremely fun or take a trip
- Start exercising
- Volunteer for charity
- Get a pet
- Get yourself a small garden
- Write a novel about your being stuck situation
- Draw a picture about your being stuck situation
- Make new friends
- Analyze yourself and get to know yourself better
- Figure out if you are maybe a chronic procrastinator
- Try doing the opposite just to see what happens
- List all the possibilities you have, and keep an abundance mindset while doing it
- Take an online course or read a book about your life problem
- Do one thing that you really enjoyed as a child
- Write down 50 ideas on how you can help your company to perform better
- Find a mentor
- Increase your margins and disinvest yourself
- Do all the mind exercises to think better
Now go out and play, do something new. You only have one life. And remember, you aren’t stuck, you’re just spending your time, energy and other resources wrong. So shape a better life strategy. You only live once.