For many of us, feeling stuck can be a very scary and self-critical place to be. It shows up in the space between—one way of being in the world has ended, but the next is yet to come. Stuckness arises when we are fighting off the omnipresent unknowns in life. She hangs around when there is a fork in the road—do I leave my relationship, change my career path, move my home base, or simply let go of what is no longer serving me in order to embrace what does?
In a culture that celebrates progress, achievement, and forward movement, it is extremely challenging to gift ourselves the space that is needed to understand why we are feeling stuck. Instead, we often push our feelings of stuckness deep down inside of us, which allows them to develop into ambivalence, ruminating thoughts, and overwhelming anxieties. As we try to think our way out of the discomfort, we completely miss the point. Feeling stuck is not a matter of the head—it’s a matter of the heart.
Here are my five tips on what to do if you are currently feeling stuck in life:
1. Listen to your body.
Your body is your wisest tool. When you experience an uncomfortable sensation or feeling in your body—don’t disregard it. In fact, I encourage you to deepen the experience by getting quiet, creating space, and paying closer attention. Where do you feel the sensation in your body? Does it feel hot or cold? Contracted or open? Does it have a texture, color, sound, or smell?
Call to action: Write the sensations that you feel in your body down in your journal and look for any patterns or consistencies in the information. What you may find is that a particular person, place, experience, or thing elicits a reaction in you that no longer serves you and keeps you feeling stuck. Becoming aware of your body’s unique signals of stuckness and self-betrayal is the first step to creating change.
2. Pay attention to your thoughts.
What you believe about yourself and the world around you creates your reality. If the record player inside of your head is on repeat with self-limiting beliefs and statements that hold you back from realigning with your highest truth, it’s impossible to become unstuck. Changing your thoughts to align with what you want in life will allow you to reconnect with your own inner knowing and intuition.
Some of the most important work I do with clients is teach them how to align their thoughts with what they want in their life. If they come in feeling stuck in love or romantic partnerships but have an inner monologue repeating that they will never find what they are looking for or that they are unlovable, that is the root of the problem. Learning to change those thoughts allows for the opportunity to become unstuck and radically shift your reality.
Call to action: Learn to quiet the clamor of social training that keeps you stuck, saying things like “you’re not good enough” or “you’re not [fill in the blank].” Become the master observer of your thoughts by keeping a journal of any time you have a thought that is out of alignment with who you are or what you want in your life. Immediately after writing down the thought, replace it with the truth of who you are today i.e., “I AM enough,” and what you want in your life in the future, i.e., “I HAVE abundance.” I encourage you to either say these statements out loud (if you are alone) or write them down in a journal.
3. Engage in wanderlust.
When we are stuck and out of alignment with our own truth, we are often engaged in the same routine day in and day out. We can’t hear the beating of our own heart because we haven’t let it beat in far too long.
I often work with clients who tell me that they feel stuck in the mundane and ordinary aspects and ongoing planning of their day-to-day life. However, when I dig a bit deeper, I normally find that these individuals feel alive when they are on vacation and allow themselves to throw any plans or routine out the window. My offering is always to bring the vacation back home.
Call to Action: Wanderlust is a norm of vacation. You know, the rare opportunities that we give ourselves to not have plans and to break routine. Give yourself permission for a few hours every week to engage in wanderlust. Choose a new neighborhood to explore in your city or town. Turn off your phone. Allow your intuition and inner desires to guide and direct you. Stop when you want to. Step into a store that calls out to you. Smile at a stranger on the street. Take note of how it makes you feel and see how you can apply the principles of wanderlust to becoming unstuck.
4. Look for signs from the universe.
If you pay attention, the universe is constantly reorienting to support you on your path. Did a song come on the radio at the perfect time? Did a billboard speak to you? Did a stranger tell you exactly what you needed to hear? Did things fall into place with minimal to no effort? These aren’t just coincidences.
I was recently working with a client who was trying to decide where to travel for a one-week break she had between when one job ended and the next began. I recommended she check out a retreat center in Northern California. Although reticent at first—everything seemed to align: There was one spot left in the workshop she wanted. They were able to meet all of her dietary restrictions of a current detox she was on. She received a vacation payout that was almost the exact cost of the retreat. This is a small example, but things like this aren’t happenstance.
Call to Action: Pay attention to small synchronicities, moments of ease, dreams, or oddities. Write them down in your journal or share them with someone you trust. Try to make sense of them. Learn to trust them. The powers that be (insert “Universe,” “God,” “spirit” here) has your back if you learn to listen.
5. Share your stuckness.
Human beings have a tendency to feel alone and unique in their experiences. The truth of the matter is, every single person on this planet has felt stuck at some point in their life. When we allow ourselves to share and be vulnerable with people we trust, we create movement—we open up the door to new possibilities. One of your friends may have a prospective job connection for you. Another may have a person to set you up on a date with. People can’t read your mind! Advertise your stuckness as a way of inviting in change.
When I spoke to Sarah Cocciardi, a stuttering speech pathologist, for my podcast, she taught me this very important lesson. She learned how to advertise her imperfections—and therefore the things that held her back from moving forward—from a very young age. In her Gutted episode she states,
“To be a speech pathologist and have to own and discuss and advocate in this realm that was once my most inner secret, that was my most shameful, is the most liberating… It still has moments that are painful and awkward, and I feel like my mouth looks very silly. But there are those other moments when you take ownership that it is the most rewarding experience.”
Call to Action: Meet up with a friend or family member to whom you are close. Create intentional space for both of you to think about an area in your life where you feel stuck.
Then, allow each person to share for two minutes of uninterrupted time, and I would encourage you to use a timer so you don’t have to think about timing. Share what is happening, how it feels, who is involved…paint a vivid picture and fill the entire time. After your time is up, you get to decide if you want feedback (sometimes all we need is someone to hear us) and then switch roles. Notice how it makes you feel to share your stuckness and not hold it deep inside.
Most parents, teachers, religions, friends, belief systems, and cultures will tell you not to listen to your truth, which keeps you feeling stuck and out of alignment with your highest self. But your playing small doesn’t serve the world. Practice listening to your body, paying attention to your thoughts, engaging in wanderlust, looking for signs from the universe, and advertising your stuckness, and the rest will follow.