As I sat down to write my weekly blog post this weekend I continually found myself hitting a wall. Every idea I had wasn’t feeling right and the words just weren’t coming to me like they usually do. After numerous attempts to write I found myself feeling frustrated and stuck…and I finally just had to walk away from it for a day. When I returned to my computer this afternoon I was inspired to write about my little experience with feeling stuck as I think we all have felt stuck at one point or another. It seems to be a “normal” part of being human. But the fact that everyone experiences it doesn’t really make it any easier to work through on a personal level. The best thing you can for yourself when you are feeling stuck is to work through it…the question is, how?
And some days that feels like the million dollar question, doesn’t it? But unfortunately, there is no one answer to this question. What works for me may not work for you. Worse yet, what works for me today may not work for me the next time. Frustrating, yes. Time to throw in the towel, no. While there is no universal solution…no one size fits all technique that will help get you unstuck, there are some tools that can provide you with a great place to start…then it is just a matter of listening to yourself and following your heart and your intuition. The suggestions listed below are just the tip of the iceberg…there are many, many others out there. However, these are ones I can speak to personally as having had a positive impact on my life when I have felt stuck.
- Take a break: Often times all it takes is walking away from the situation or circumstances so you can get a little distance between you and the thing you are feeling stuck about. I know that a majority of the time when I do this I come back to the situation with a clearer perspective and can move through things much more easily. In fact, this is my number one tactic when I am trying to write and am feeling stuck. There have been times where I have had to take two or three breaks before I was clear about how to move forward (this weekend being a perfect example), but in the end it was those breaks that made all the difference.
- Take a step back, breathe, and re-evaluate: Similar to “taking a break”, this technique is a much quicker method and may not work for when you are feeling super stuck. This is one I often use at work when I really can’t walk away from something for periods of time. When I am working on/dealing with something that I have a tight timeline on or, like in the case of my job, I just can’t walk away from, I simply stop for a brief moment, take a few deep breaths, and re-evaluate what I am doing, why I am doing it, what the end goal is, and then I try to identify what is causing me to feel stuck. This usually is enough to help me adjust my perspective and begin anew.
- Meditate/Release your attachment: When I feel stuck and/or like I just can’t get out of my own way, I know I need to use a technique that forces me to look deeper into the situation. In those tougher times I choose to do so by either going inward (meditation) or outward (seek advice, see below under #4). Going inward is obviously easier to do in the comforts of your own home, as opposed to your office, and I find it particularly helpful for me when I am feeling stuck on items that are very personal, emotionally charged, or are related to creativity in some way. Just being able to sit in a quiet space and focus on clearing the mind (no matter whether you use a mantra, a guided meditation, or just sit in silence counting your inhales/exhales) helps me to release whatever I am attached to around the situation about which I am feeling stuck. When I can let go of that attachment, I can see and think more clearly about it, and I no longer feel stuck.
- Seek advice: The other technique I use when I feel really stuck is to ask a trusted friend or colleague for advice. When I have tried to get unstuck on my own and just can’t seem to do it, sometimes I find it helps to get a fresh perspective. Hearing someone else’s viewpoint on something you have become so entrenched in that you feel stuck, can be just the thing you need to have that “aha” moment. One caution I would offer with this technique, however, is to make sure you choose wisely when seeking advice from others…be sure you are asking people you trust to be honest with you and who have had enough life experience to be able to give you valuable feedback. And also make sure you are entering into that conversation with an open mind as you may well get some advice that’s contrary to what you want to hear. But if you are mindful of where you are seeking advice and are open to what is shared you may well find that you can get unstuck in pretty quick order.
Feeling stuck is not a permanent condition, despite the fact that it can certainly feel that way at times – you can overcome it. And my hope is that you find something here that will help you move beyond that “feeling stuck” stage the next time you find yourself there. Keep in mind, you may have to try different techniques, or variations of them, each time as the circumstances under which you are feeling stuck are not going to be the same every time. Experiment, tweak, play around a bit…and if one technique doesn’t work well or resonate with you, try another one. You have nothing to lose except that feeling of being stuck!