Feeling stuck in life? Set resolutions that never work each year? Or just can’t get ahead no matter how hard you try?
Editor and writer Andrea Blundell explores how to get unstuck.
9 Ways to stop feeling stuck and make progress at last
1. Accept that you might be behind the problem.
The one thing that keeps us well and truly stuck in life? The victim mentality.
When we think that all the problems in our life are because of other people and situations, or whatever else there is to blame, we then put all the power outward.
How can we change anything if we are claiming we are powerless?
When we take responsibility for what we can — when we accept that we, as adults, either chose those experiences, relationships, jobs, apartments? Or, in the case of something like childhood trauma which of course wasn’t a choice, did, however, choose not to seek help as an adult and commit to healing?
We untie our own hands and claim back power. And with that power we can finally make new choices to change the situation.
2. Dig out limiting beliefs.
Think that you decide your life with your conscious thoughts? Think again.
Our conscious thoughts are often driven by hidden unconscious beliefs. These are assumptions we make as children and decide are ‘facts’. They can sound like, ‘the world is a dangerous place’, ‘you can’t trust anyone’, ‘I am not worthy of good things’.
For example, if you believe you are not worthy of good things you are going to somehow choose a partner you don’t quite like, a job you are bored in, a living situation with problems.
In the moment of choice you’ll blank out the obvious if it doesn’t match your unconscious beliefs, and then wonder later how you missed such things… sound familiar?
3. Identify values.
Don’t have a terrible life, and know you should be grateful? but have a sense you are trudging along? That no matter how hard you try, or what seemingly ‘good’ things happen, you are in a rut?
You are probably living out someone else’s values other than your own. Perhaps you’ve never even thought to sit down and ask yourself, what is it I, just me, deep down really truly deem as important?
The classic example here would be a child who learned from their parents they must want stability and wealth. Deep down they value creativity and adventure. Cue a breakdown in their thirties where they abandon their accounting job and marriage and run off to volunteer in Africa.
But it might equally be you trying to live up to your friend or partner’s values of a ‘cool, free’ life, when deep down you value stability and calm.
When we identify our personal values, we naturally find purpose and passion. When we follow our values, we meet people we have things in common with and can connect with. We are inspired and in ‘flow’.
4. Lower expectations.
When you have such high expectations you are never happy with what is, you miss opportunity right in front of you. You don’t try new things if they aren’t what you expected, turn away relationships with people who might have been great friends or partners, and have constant struggle with family members.
No wonder you feel exhausted and like you are treading water. You are in a state of constant resistance instead of acceptance.
It’s not about not having standards. It’s about facing up to the things you are expecting of people, environments, and even yourself that are not realistic.
And that maybe, deep down, you are using high expectations to put your life on hold. To keep intimacy at bay. To keep up the idea that you are a failure and to stay feeling stuck in your comfort zone.
5. Create space.
No, we are not talking about decluttering your home (although that can’t do any harm).
We are talking about decluttering the things in your life that are no longer serving you.
You can’t step forward if there is no space to step into. Remind yourself you are making room for what you DO want.
6. Get angry. Or sad. Or angry and sad.
Repressed emotions are a part-time job. Think of holding a beach ball under water. One wrong move and it pops up. It takes a lot of concentration.
That’s what holding down emotions can be like. It take so much energy there is none left for big changes that move your life forward.
7. Grow your perspective.
Imagine an elephant and people standing around it. Each person is going to have a very different idea of what the elephant is. So why don’t they just walk around it, or just step back for a bigger view?
And yet many of us live our life refusing to change our perspective and see more of the elephant. We are ‘right’, we ‘know how it is’. Our own refusal to ‘walk around the elephant’ means we are feeling stuck in life.
What would your five year-old self have to say about your life? Your eighty year-old self? Your best friend from school? Luke Skywalker? Charlie Brown? You get the point.
8. Identify the patterns you are stuck in.
Life patterns are very powerful forces.They are what schema therapy , that specialises in pattern breaking, calls ‘themes’. Just like in a film, with a message that all scenes build to, we live our life playing out the same conflicts and behaviours.
To get out of the pattern, you have to admit you are in it. It can feel embarrassing to admit that yes, all your relationships have the same problem, yes, you fall into debt every time. But it helps.
9. Get help changing those patterns.
When we are stuck in patterns, we can’t ‘see the wood for the trees’. We can trick ourselves each time that ‘this time is different’. And we can spend our entire lives this way, unless we seek support.
A coach, counsellor, or psychotherapist becomes an unbiased new perspective who can help you see the pattern, as well as what inner resources you have to try different ways of being that move you out of the pattern. Finally you are free to stop playing the same scene and be your real self.
Harley Therapy offers sessions with highly regarded talk therapists in central London offices. Not in the capital? Use our booking platform to find UK-wide registered therapists as well as online counsellors you can book from overseas.
Still have a question? Or want to share your tip for what to do when feeling stuck in life? Share below.
Andrea Blundell is the editor and lead writer of this site. She has training in group coaching and person-centred counselling.