Saturday, April 10, 2010


Sometimes in this journey I find myself well, STUCK.

Stuck like caught in the mud and the mire of stuckness. This is that place where I KNOW all about the things that I should be doing, want to be doing and know how to do.

But not doing them.


"Why" am I STUCK? Well, a counselor once told me that "stuck" is a form of disscociation. And in some instances I can see how that is...especially on days that I had found myself "zoning out" and not remembering what the hell happened to the last 8 hours....

What I've come realize though is that whatever you want to call it or say is the cause - focussing on that is not helpful to finding my way out of STUCK.

So when I catch myself feeling "stuck" I have a few activities that I do to help take myself of of AUTOstuck and get back in the groove of my day.

So here's a couple of things I've used to help push me from stuck - to UN stuck...

1. At different times I've used what I call a "Brain Dump". This is where I just close my eyes and start typing (or writing in a notebook). At this point I intentionally stop ruminating and chasing those never ending thoughts that are racing through my head and I write the first words that come to my mind and the only thoughts I focus on are answering the questions:

1. why am I stuck and 2. what can I do to get UN stuck?

The example below is from a recent day when I was having a lot of physical pain and in a period of "stuck". Notice the pattern of thought...and how I found my own solution in this process:

Today is hard. I’m stuck. Again. Still. I’m not moving forward because I’m in pain and I need to exercise. I'm not exercising because I don’t have summer workout clothes and I need new gym shoes. I don’t have those because I haven't done my budget this month. I don't have the budget done because I can't find the bills to pay and I won't go shopping until the bills are paid. I can't find the bills because the mail is piling up again. The mail is piling up because I'm feeling stuck.

2. One thing. Forward movement creates an energy that naturally takes us to the next action. By taking my brain off "autopilot" and "spinning" on the racing thoughts that can come when I'm feeling overwhelmed, I purpose, with intention to simply take ONE action and trust that the next action will come from the energy created from the first.

In this situation, the first ONE action might be to sort the mail and separate the bills from the rest of the mail.

This action would then take me to the next action of balancing my checkbook in order to pay the bills which would free me up to be able to go shopping to buy what I need to take care of myself and get to the gym or go outside to walk since I now have season appropriate clothes to wear - and I feel good because I was able to resolve my own problem and take care of myself.

True - this is maybe a simplified version of how "stuckness" can cause us to "freeze" and feel unable to impact the outcome of our life. It is also a very effective tool for identifying those times when I am feeling "powerless" and "victim" to the "symptoms" that ran my life and kept me dependent on outside solutions.

While going through and doing this kind of self analyzing can be hard when what we really want is someone to take care of us , tell us what to do or how to "fix" whatever is "wrong" with is also the one most self empowering things that I can do to take myself off STUCK and put my life back on the fast track to another opportunity to kind of say "in your face" to a past that left me feeling very disempowered and prove to myself once again that I can - and I am - doing this.

Q: what thoughts or actions have you taken in the past to help coax yourself from STUCK to UNstuck?


Ethereal Highway said...

I think the therapist who said 'stuck' is a form of dissociation was right (at least for my own situation). Unfortunately, the last time I was really stuck in a similar way, the only thing that began to show the way out was to come into conscious contact with what it was that I was dissociating from (and contrary to my belief at the time, it wasn't my stacks of mail or my unpaid bills, which were both quite abundant). I tried what you describe here first, but it was always temporary and took enormous amounts of energy and was simply not sustainable. Still, it worked temporarily in a pinch and it's better than nothing. It can actually be used fairly successfully as a good starting off point. After all, who can come into conscious contact with dissociated material when they feel financially vulnerable in the face of a big stack of mail? No one whose goal is to stay solvent, that's for sure. Sometimes (for me anyway), I think procrastination like this serves the purpose of protecting me from my own material and my real feelings about it.

Susan said...

You bring up some very good points in your comment EH!

And yes - I agree that dissociation is a form of avoidance and the true long term way out of that is to become conscious of what I'm avoiding so that I can face it and the related emotions that I would otherwise continue to avoid.

I also agree with your comment about how it can take a huge amount of effort to do exercises like this and it is temporary. And I agree on this and as are I think all exercises that require an external focus vs that internal change that comes with consciousness.

Exercises like this I have found helpful to kind of "snap" myself out of a stuck place so that I could continue on and find the thing that I was avoiding so I COULD consciously address that.

You bring up some very good points - have you found any tools or exercises that are helpful to move you from procrastination to action that you could share here? I'd love for you to share you own insights on this!

Ellen said...

HI Susan,
I've found it true that just one action can trigger the next, so instead of focusing on the whole situation - like your pain problem with all its other causes - it's very good to for instance 'just sweep this one floor'. Reminds me - must do vaccuuming! I'm often in that stuck mode and I really do relate.

I also think EH's comment is right on - there are probably feelings under the stuckness we're avoiding. But sometimes it's best to just keep avoiding and motor on through so that our life at least functions, if that makes any sense.


Patricia Singleton said...

Just like every journey that we take, the journey out of "stuckness" starts with that first step. Take it one step at a time. Usually that starts with my change of attitude toward being stuck.

Susan said...

Ellen; so good to see you!

I like the way you put it ie not focussing on the whole house but only on the one thing - that floor in front of you that needs sweeping. Nicely put!

Yes; it makes perfect sense, Ellen. Avoidance is what in the past helped us to maintain any sense of integrity and the overwhelming helplessness that came with many of our (less than pleasant) life experiences.

The flip side I think is that I can now use this awareness of the tendency to avoid as a way of identifying those issues that may yet need to be grieved and resolved. And I can set aside time to do this when life needs me to at least function on "autopilot". It is slow tedious work but in the end the reward is well worth it I have found.

Have a good week Ellen!

Susan said...

Patricia - "The journey of a thousand miles begins with that first step"...and continues by putting one foot in front of the other. :)

I completely agree - it is a choice to do an "attitude adjustment". And sometimes that just begins with as you point out - recognizing "stuck" and taking that first step to begin the forward journey.

Thanks for your comment and insight!