We all have had moments when we felt “stuck” or like we’ve hit a wall. Being stuck is an inner feeling of stagnation and paralysis and feels beyond our control.
When we feel stuck, we question our core purpose, our life’s path, and even our past and future decisions. It makes our lives seem confusing, hopeless and uninspired, and it’s not a surprise to learn that feeling stuck often leads to sadness and depression.
So what causes us to feel stuck? Some of the most common causes include:
Fear of making mistakes
Feeling powerless and hopeless
Discomfort with trying new things and getting out of your comfort zone
No longer feeling curious to try new things
Although these are common feelings that everyone can experience, it’s important to remind ourselves that all change begins within us and that we are our own agents of change.
Below are five things you can do now to help you get moving and feel “un-stuck:”
1. Curb self-talk that begins with “I have to…” and “I should…”. This kind of self-talk makes us feel automatic, oppressed and stagnate.
2. Every day, do at least one thing you enjoy. Whatever that is–whether it is reading, working out, or just sitting and relaxing–make it a priority as much as your other responsibilities, like working, paying the bills, and taking care of family. Doing the things we love brings new and positive energy into our lives.
3. Take a break from social media. Several studies indicate that social media can make it hard for us to let go of our past, has a negative impact on our self-esteem, induces envy, and inhibits us from having substantial relationships. All of the above can contribute to feeling stuck. Limiting or taking a complete break from social media gives us time back to focus on pursuing personal goals and helps us to live in the moment.
4. Be OK with feeling stuck. This may sound counter intuitive, but it’s not. Sometimes the more we resist an emotion or thought, the stronger it becomes. Feeling stuck from time to time is normal. Instead of thinking it is wrong or bad to feel stuck, allow yourself to be present in this emotion so your mental energy can go towards figuring out what changes need to be made to move forward, rather than focusing your energy on self-criticism about feeling stuck in the first place.
5. Do something outside of your comfort zone. Living life only within our comfort zone inhibits us from growing in countless ways. Figure out what you’d like to try but have been hesitant to act on because of fear or self-doubt. Make a conscious effort to become aware of what gives you a deep sense of joy and excitement.
Dr. Paula Durlofsky is a psychologist in private practice in Bryn Mawr, whose practice focuses on psychological issues affecting individuals, couples, and families. She is affiliated with Bryn Mawr Hospital and Lankenau Medical Center.