I work a lot with ambivalence. It is uncomfortable. We feel stuck, emotionally and mentally, when we hold contradictory thoughts and experience mixed feelings about certain aspects of our lives. Feeling stuck is normal when we feel far from a desired outcome, or some expectations of how our lives could be different. “If only”, we wonder… and then “but”. We think we have no means or ways to get out of the perceived rut. All we wish is to have something to do to help us get unstuck.
If you would like to find out more about the what, the why and the how of being stuck, Henri Junttila’s post on the Tiny Buddha “Why we feel stuck in life and the secret to dealing with it” was pretty relatable.
Tune into “being stuck”
When working with ambivalence, we are in the space of tension and restlessness. Powerlessness and despondence could be present too. Being present with these emotions is key. When we tune in to the messages from the emotional experiences, instead of resisting them, we give ourselves the opportunity to meet the needs that are being communicated. I wrote a post about “how to lean into our emotions” using Tara Brach’s RAIN meditation and this technique has been helpful for many to tune into emotions.
Do something different to unstuck yourself
When we feel stuck, we could be marinating ourselves in our problems. We could be desperate for solutions. Sometimes, we could set aside the issues at hand. Pause the quest for answers. Instead, we could seek inspiration. We could instead make space for possibility.
I recently took a course on PESI to study more about trauma and found my interest in neuroscience piqued again. Our brain is involved in every aspect of our lives – thinking, feeling, doing. We are creatures of habit because of our brain activity too, and we need to help it out a little by doing things differently, learning new things. We can create change by building on our brain’s potential to create new neural pathways.
Sometimes, I do things differently to challenge my brain just a little. Discomfort can be useful guide, to help us get curious. If you find yourself feeling a little stuck, help yourself (i.e., your brain) out by expanding from your usual methods, by tapping into the discomfort, the unfamiliar. We can somehow connect the dots better when we let ourselves experience possibility.
Practical things you can do when you feel stuck
I share some suggestions below but I would like to encourage you to experiment. Free yourself from rigidity, just a little. Tap into the uncomfortable space and see how it goes. Robert Tucker, a thought leader in innovation shares some great guidelines in an article on Forbes to help people get creatively unstuck and I think it can be applied to our lives too.
- Walk backwards.
- Use a different hand to write. Your name, some words, your favourite quote, etc.
- Speak to yourself using a different voice.
- Channel a role model, or a wise loved one. What would they say about your situation?
- Sing out your situation.
- Go for a walk.
- Create something. Try a new recipe, colour, paint, play with clay.
- Have a different coffee than your usual.
- Use a different perfume, scent.
- Sketch your desired state.
- Read a different genre.
- Ask a trusted one to describe your situation back to you.
Somehow, when we are not actively seeking, we will find. Even if our mind is not actively seeking out answers on how to get us out of a rut, it is working in the background, connecting the seemingly unrelated dots we have yet to see. Be patient.
Get help when you feel stuck
I have journeyed with people who feel stuck, uninspired, burnt out, exhausted. I’ve worked collaboratively with them to think and do things differently. When we can think creatively, we can inspire hope and boost confidence. When we see a glimmer of possibility, we can muster courage to give it shot. And when we try, we get better at experimenting. Transformation is the natural by-product.
In my job, helping people feel less stuck and more hopeful energises me a lot. If you are feeling stuck, consider walking with me. Book a discovery call here.