How can we become unstuck?

The feeling of being stuck is one that we all encounter in life. This can be realised in a range of scenarios, commonly including: uncertainty about how to address a situation or where to begin, confusion within relationships, lacking motivation, amongst many others.


This can be an unpleasant and distressing place to find ourselves and in order to move forward, change is usually required. Yet we regularly stay stuck and that poses the question, why? Why do we remain in unfulfilling jobs? Why do we stay in unhappy relationships? Why do we continue to follow a routine that no longer serves our purpose?

This is because we as humans are typically adverse to change. Change is scary, time-consuming and we open ourselves up to judgement and the risk of uncertainty. We find comfort in the familiarity of misery rather than embracing the discomfort of uncertainty. 

So often our resistance to change stems from the past, our lived negative experiences. When previous challenges have not been overcome or successful, we look to find solace in what is familiar, associating the familiarity with safety. Drawing solely from past events, we construct a narrative that is both inaccurate and irrelevant, which in turn results in us creating self-imposed limitations. This causes us to overlook the fact that we are constantly growing and evolving, we are different beings from who we once were and cannot fathom who we could become tomorrow. Due to this, it is wholly beneficial to direct our focus on the present and ask the question, “What can I learn from today?”

A few months back, I found myself stuck in a rut – I was miserable! I lacked motivation for anything productive and felt uncertain about the direction to take in my career. After investing significant effort over the course of 18 months, I faced several setbacks, combined with some financial pressures and I began developing a rather defeatist mindset. Exhaustion took hold, and I struggled to perceive the purpose behind my endeavours! 

I began engaging in self-sabotaging behaviours, wasting time and avoiding essential tasks. I found myself watching unproductive TV, staying up late, and repeatedly hitting the snooze button on my alarm. Although I knew deep down that I would eventually overcome this slump, I couldn't find the inner drive to initiate the process. Instead of introspecting, I focused on external factors and made excuses for why I couldn't move forward. Consequently, self-doubt and frustration started to creep in, making it challenging for me to shake off this state of stagnation.

A candid conversation with a trusted friend reminded me that I possessed the ability to influence the circumstances that had trapped me, and I held the power to establish my personal boundaries. Whilst some things were beyond my control, I could control my response to certain situations. This reminder shed light on the ways in which I was hindering my own progress, I realised that I was making excuses and fabricating constraints to remain stuck. This conversation served as a turning point, motivating me to break free from the rut I had created. I took the necessary steps to move forward and towards accomplishing my goals.

So how can we make change happen?

No one will approach you and tell you that you're simply going through the motions. The motivation and desire for transformation must come from within. Ask yourself the challenging questions and hold yourself accountable for the change that you intuitively know needs to happen. Abandon the justifications and limitations you impose upon yourself, which trap you in a state of inaction. Rather than using the phrase "I can't because ….." I urge you to embrace the perspective of "I can if ……" 

  1. Visualise: What is your goal? You don’t need all the answers right now, just picture what you want.
  2. Barriers: Think about what obstacles you can eliminate (for me this was cutting out late nights watching TV so that I was less tired and therefore more productive in the morning).
  3. Begin: Find the discipline to do one thing each day that gets you closer to your goal (for me this was getting up at 5 am to read, research and complete tasks that I didn’t have the time to complete in the day)
  4. Accountability: Show up for yourself each day, hold yourself accountable – set a task and tick it off (for me this was reading for at least 15 minutes per day).
  5. Faith: Trust the process – If you’re consistently doing things that are meaningful towards your goal every day, you will see progress!
  6. Acknowledgement: Most importantly, praise yourself for whatever accomplishments you do make, no matter how small they may seem.

Make a conscious effort to live intentionally – find your 'what', focus on your 'why' and your 'how' will follow!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Birmingham B46 & B3
Written by Sharon McDonagh
Birmingham B46 & B3

Life can be challenging at times.  Our ability to deal with these challenges depends on how we view ourselves and the world around us. We might find ourselves feeling overwhelmed or stuck. At times like this, talking to a trained, experienced counsellor can help us focus on areas of our life th...

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