We all may experience the feeling of getting stuck and struggling to get past an impasse. It is common to be in a rut and even though we may have notions or even goals to leave the state or place we are in, we often find it hard to make that change. It is often self-judgment or low self-belief that prevents us from moving forward. We can lack those resources to make the change and become stuck in a state of negativity, whether this is worry, anxiety or anger. When we are stuck, we often feel we have to wait for an external change to happen but it is almost always necessary to make sure the initial change is internal and within us. Change can be anxiety-provoking and painful but necessary for getting unstuck. As Victor Frankl once said, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
There is a lot we can do in order to help break ourselves out of being stuck. Here are some tips that you may be able to use to help with this process. We often need someone to help us.
A Be kind and easy on yourself given how stressful and overwhelming your life may feel like. With too much pressure, we may end up finding the process of change too much.
B Focus on what you are in control of and examine those choices that are changeable as opposed to those that are either not or are simply too challenging. Make a list of these areas and highlight those that you are able to change whilst cross off those that you are not able to.
C Action and empowerment – reclaim control over one or more areas of your life so you can experience the process of change. This may not even be an area of great consequence and something more peripheral (e.g. one’s physical fitness)
D Courage and learning – people often stay stuck as they may feel uncertain or unconfident about their choices and fear that a decision may lead to disappointment or even failure. We need to remember that we have to be bold and see mistakes as a necessary part of the whole process of becoming unstuck.
E Change your self-talk – we can make small changes by altering the language we use both in our head and with others. If we use language that suggests hopelessness, impossibility, and being stuck, we may not feel the belief or drive. However, if we adjust our vocabulary and start to make efforts to use positive language, we may feel differently. Imagine how differently we may feel if we told ourselves consistently “I can!” or “I feel great!”
F Own your strengths – remind yourself of your positive resources that you can take on your journey for change. Write these down!
G Work towards a goal – too often, we try to move out of a stuck state by thinking that it is about leaving behind a negative feeling, event or even a person, and whilst this is an inevitable part of our thinking, it is also more helpful to think of a positive goa, feeling or event to move towards.
H Never lose heart or hope – even if change is challenging, we have to ensure that ‘hope’ remains protected so that we have some incentive and future to work towards.
I Start small – we often need to break a cycle or rut by taking smaller steps which in turn stimulate change and enable goals to be accomplished. If our goals are to become unstuck, we can initiate change by addressing something seemingly routine or banal in our daily life.
J Fast forward – we may need to do some positive visualisation and imagine what our life will look like when we become unstuck. We can do this repeatedly and not just focus on a visual state but also on a feeling state. For example, imagine revisiting a picture of the lifestyle that we are moving towards.
K Swagger your underdog – we don’t move forward if we lack self-belief and feel small, and for this reason, we may need to artificially bring out a stronger and confident part that won’t hold us back from facing challenges and change.
L Be a rescuer and not a victim – it is easy with adverse life experiences to fall into a trap of feeling a victim to life’s circumstances. Of course, such negative thinking can only be self-fulfilling, so far better to adopt a stance that is about success and rescuing one’s life.
M Feeling powerful and empowered – when we’re feeling small and uncertain, our goals for change may well feel insurmountable and this weight is often the biggest factor that prevents us from becoming unstuck. It is essential to have a sense that anything is possible.
N Let go of the past – invariably our past holds us back from having the courage to move forward and this may involve needing to let go of memories or any blame which are not relevant with where we are right now.
O What is this all about? – feelings of being unstuck are often complex and unclear, and it may take a while to examine what matters in our life. We tend to think the purpose of life centres around our job, family and those obligations or responsibilities that go with them. We may need to become unstuck by thinking about what we really care about which may well be something we’ve either neglected that used to matter or it may be something we have either not thought of or only yearned for.
P Gratitude – if we are beset with negativity and uncertainty, we may need to force ourselves to do a gratitude exercise on ourselves and think about what we are thankful for.
Q It’s okay to mourn a loss – change often means leaving something behind or accepting loss. Of course, remaining hopeful and positive is key to becoming unstuck however it may be important to grieve for the sad or negative things we may be leaving behind.
R Switch modes – if we are preoccupied about how hard it is to make changes, we are likely to be in need of ‘change’ and this may well mean doing something completely different, whether this is a new activity/hobby or project, it will help reset our clock.
S Fun – when we are struggling, it goes without saying that our life is likely to be lacking fun and lightness. Even though the very thought of introducing fun into one’s life at a time like this may feel meaningless, it is also possible that this may defuse the stress.
T Proactive planning – so many of the tips are cognitive and internal but this one is more behavioural and is about making oneself accomplish a goal which may help us feel like we’re on the right path.
U Form your support group – if the change is one where others may either voice doubt or you may simply imagine so, these people may not be the most useful part of your armoury. It is imperative that you surround yourself with a team of people, however small or big, who can allow you to negotiate your journey to an unstuck state.
V Truth – when we struggle, we hide and often suppress those uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. If we face up to these vulnerable truths in our life and share them with others, we again will make more progress.
W Keep active – being mentally stuck is often associated with physical lethargy so again given how both mental and physical health are so intrinsically related, it may be even more important at a time like this to be physically active through running, cycling or sport.
X Change the perspective – we may need to step away from reality to feel the sense that we can change. We may do this through meditation, spending time alone or just taking a break from our daily routine. We need this in order to achieve distance and clear our mind.
Y Time travel – this is something a hypnotherapist or NLP practitioner may do but you can easily do something similar yourself. Close your eyes and do some mental time travel which could either mean going back to a child version of yourself or racing forward to an older version of yourself. In both cases, you would be trying to imagine what they would be telling you right now.
Z Ask for help – perhaps, the last one is the hardest to do. We so often feel we have to muddle through things by ourselves and don’t want to burden others with our struggles or feel ashamed that we are where we are. Whether the help is from family or friends, or from a professional, it can make a huge difference.
I hope this set of ideas goes some way to helping you move forward and embrace change.