Stuck is a word that often gets talked about by people who approach coaches and therapists like me. It's a big problem and heck, I often feel stuck in aspects of my life too - it's a chronic human condition. Luckily there's much that can be done. If you're feeling it, or have ever felt it, read on!
Stuck can feel gloopy, sticky, often painful. Stuck can be frustrating and make you angry and feel disempowered. Stuck can look like someone else's fault. Stuck can make you a victim. Stuck is debilitating whilst it's around.
Stuck stops progress, impedes healthy relationships, blocks success at work and can lead to a sense of failure. For most people, stuck needs unsticking.
But stuck is also an illusion.
It doesn't feel like it when you're in it though does it?
Let's explore a little.
What Does It Mean?
When have you felt that things haven't flowed as you would like? When and where in your life do you feel stuck and what does that actually mean to you? How does it hold you back? How does it feel to you personally? What are the implications?
Where Does It Come From?
Stuck usually comes from a low level of consciousness. It's a bit like getting lost in a dense forest. If you were a bird and could fly above the treetops you would see your route through, but down in the undergrowth, things look difficult. So it's important to ask yourself regularly if you were to elevate above the problem or experience, what would you see differently? What would a clearer perspective, or to put it another way, what would a different level of consensus brought to the problem allow you to do differently?
I've had a number of conversations with people recently who are experiencing this very thing. One example was a woman who was telling me about her relationship with her former partner and the father of her child. "He won't listen to anything I say, he uses the kids to manipulate and get what he wants, he is being emotionally abusive, I'm terrified he's trying to take them away from me. He's out to get me.".
I don't doubt that she feels any of those things and what she's experiencing is a very difficult situation, but what I saw from above the treetops was something slightly different. When I questioned what was going on what I heard was a woman who is in a habitual pattern of negative relating based on what she thinks she knows of her former partner's current mindset. She reads everything he does through her negative, hurt lens. Her habitual patterns of relating to him get the same unwanted response and regularly add fuel to the fire, but she's so hurt by what she perceives is going on that she is finding it difficult to create new, more useful responses and behaviours that may elicit a something different from him. She's stuck! We call it the therapeutic paradox - that on an unconscious level we create the exact same problem that we are looking to avoid with the unhealthy patterns of behaviour. The solution? Be a bird. Fly above. Clear those unhelpful responses using Cognitive Hypnotherapy, or something similar, and do whatever you need to to see things from a different perspective.
Another conversation I had recently was with a client of mine who wanted to create a relationship. She had been in a mode of protection for many years that had kept her away from relating to people as she would like and men in particular. This protection looked like needing to work every hour she had, keeping personal relationships very much on a surface, arms-length level and creating a sense of physical perfection - perfect hair, make-up, handbags and clothes. Life all very neat and tidy and perfect. The result? She was in her 40's, had a very successful career, a lovely flat in a desirable part of town, that she spent a lot of time alone in, and felt miserable. What made the difference? Again, a different perspective on the situation. Seeing the bigger picture, allowing new perspectives from fresh eyes and a more open heart, and with help, stepping outside of all the things she already 'knew'.
"I get it, but what can I do?"
The thing with 'stuck' problems is that they feel pretty real don't they? And that 'real' gets in the way of clarity, so it can be useful to have someone to work through things with; someone who can remind you that although it can feel familiar and good in the forest, if you want to become unstuck learning to also to sometimes fly like a bird can be a better way through.
What I often see in my clients is that they (and I often too - as I said, it's a human problem) create that feeling of not being able to more forward somehow with what we believe or don't believe to be true. Those beliefs are created by the thoughts we have and our thoughts create a sense of our reality. But we make it up all the time based on our current level of understanding and past experience and so it follows that we can make up a better experience that allows us to be in more of a flow. As well as having someone to help to guide us, a way to do this is to remember to ask really good questions. These below are just some of the magic questions that could help:
What you have created there is possibility. And possibility is everything. Everything can be experienced differently if we open out the options and see beyond the box we create for ourselves. And then of course comes a willingness to make a change. But that's probably something for another day. Because sometimes becoming unstuck is a powerful thing and only you can know if you are truly ready for it. (**cue cheeky winking-face emoticon!**)
If you are though, have fun exploring the difference. It can be a really fun journey to the other side of stuck - if you believe it to be.
Kirsty Hanly is all about living a more inspired and inspiring life. She is a Coach and Cognitive Hypnotherapist working in London and online.
You can view my TEDx talk on 'The Magical Power of Fear' HERE