Why We Get Stuck, and How to Get Unstuck
Feeling stuck is the worst. It feels like your feet are planted in thick mud. You are unable to move, and if you try you might topple over.
Now your whole body is covered in thick mud. Ugh. Gross.
Being stuck in mud has happened to me. I mean, like, literally stuck in the mud. I won’t go into why I was stuck in the mud. Just be happy knowing that I am telling you that I was.
I felt helpless. All my energy was spent trying to get myself out of the mud. No matter how I tried, I could not get unstuck.
I don’t typically get stuck in the mud anymore. I have learned ways to walk around it so that my feet don’t stay planted. I am not so lucky with metaphorical mud.
I get stuck in metaphorical mud a lot.
You have been there with me. I know that you have. That feeling of not being able to get out from under the pile of shit bricks that are on top of you.
To try to get ourselves unstuck, we often tell ourselves stories about why we are stuck in the first place. These stories are often not rooted in reality. Instead, they are anchored to someone or something that caused us to get into a situation that we do not have control over.
The problem with assigning something other than yourself to the reason that you feel stuck is that it keeps you in a perpetual state of stuckness.
Because if someone/thing else creates are stuckness, then we need that same someone or something else to get us unstuck.
That sounds a bit like victimizing ourselves.
Nobody likes a victim
Reasons We Get Stuck
There are lots of reasons that we get stuck from time to time, but none of them have to do with anyone other than ourselves. I am going to list a few of them here. For the complete list of 19 reasons as outlined by Inc., click here.
Here is a list of four reasons that I think really drive our stuckness:
- Fear of failure
- Self-defeating beliefs
- Waiting for the perfect moment
Fear of Failure
Ever hear of the phrase I’d rather live a life of oh well’s than a life of what if’s? I don’t know who originated it, but I love it.
Fear keeps us stuck in the land of “what if’s.” Before we know it, we are 95 years old wondering what our life would have been like if we just took that chance.
Chances are, whatever thing you are not doing for fear that you will fail will be resolved by the time you are 95 years old. For the most part, the thing that we are afraid of doing is not so big that it is life-changing. So even if you fail, you can recover. And probably fairly quickly.
Strategy 1: Overcoming the Fear of Failure
The best way to overcome the fear of failing is to fail.
Calm down. I’m not asking you to take an uncalculated risk where you might lose the shirt off your back. Geez – why do you have to go to such extremes?
I’m talking about small exercises of exposure. Small risks that don’t change your life if you fail.
Why do this? Because you need to see that you won’t die. Your world will go on. You will still be you.
Exposing yourself to failure builds confidence to try the things you are afraid of trying because now you know you can survive failure. And really, failure is just success waiting to happen.
If you look at it that way, you need failure to be successful. Wanderlust Worker Blog has a great article on the importance of failure. Read it, and then go out there and fail!
Ah, there’s nothin’ like a good self beat down to make sure you stay in your place.
Self-defeating beliefs are those messages we tell ourselves about who we are, what we are capable of and what we are worth.
We have both good and bad self-beliefs, but it is the bad ones that keep us stuck.
Self-defeating beliefs can include:
- I’m not smart
- I’m not worthy
- I’m not capable
- I’m inadequate
The list goes on….and on….and on….and…well, you get my point. If you let it you could write a book about all the things you think about yourself that keep you stuck in your spot.
Self-defeating beliefs foster a narrative of doubt. It is that same doubt that keeps us stuck.
Strategy 2: Overcoming Self-Defeating Beliefs
Shira Gura, who is a personal growth coach, has a great formula for getting unstuck. It goes something like this:
- S = stop. Collect yourself. Breathe. Calm your body
- T = Tell about the biggest emotion you are feeling right now (ex: I am feeling inadequate about x, y, z)
- U = Uncover this belief by asking yourself what you believe (ex: I believe that I am never going to be a success). Then, ask yourself if you could prove this belief in a court of law (the answer is most probably “no”)
- C = Consider alternatives (ex: I can consider that I am learning skills now that will help me to get to where I want to be)
- K = Kindness. Be kind to yourself. Don’t judge yourself for your self-defeating belief. Allow yourself to notice it and recognize that it is by noticing it that you can tackle it.
Waiting for the Perfect Moment
This is a set up for sure. There is never going to be a perfect moment. Like Nike says, just do it.
Strategy 3: Overcoming the Wait
Ask yourself why you are waiting, and how will you know when the perfect moment arises?
What would happen if you did it now?
What self-defeating belief is keeping you stuck in the excuse of waiting until the perfect time?
The stealer of joy is comparison. Isn’t that a quote somewhere? Whatever, it’s true.
If you want to find reasons that you are not good enough, compare yourself to someone who is better.
I hate comparisons. I hate it when people say things like “I can’t complain, it could be worse.” Shut the F@!# up. It could be better too.
“I will never be as good as so and so.” Also, shut the F@#! up. So and so has 10 years and 2 degrees on you.
Strategy 4: Overcoming Comparison
When you find yourself comparing your accomplishments, worth, fill in the blank, to others there is a very simple formula that I have found to be very effective.
Here it is:
Ask yourself what positives you are getting from comparing yourself to other people. The answer is none. You are getting no positives. Zero. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
You are uniquely you. Stop trying to be someone else.
Don’t Be Stuck Being Stuck
The biggest takeaway from this mesmerizing read is to notice when you are stuck, but don’t get stuck there.
if you are stuck you are likely telling yourself a message of “can’t.” After all, people who think in terms of “can” don’t often find themselves stuck for long.
When you are stuck
- Notice and challenge your self-defeating beliefs
- Don’t let a fear of failure stand in your way
- Don’t wait for the perfect moment
- Stop comparing yourself
At the end of the day, this is your journey. You can make it as good or as bad as you would like. You choose.