On the other side of the spectrum from fearing change are those instances where we are so anxious for change to occur; we feel our mood dip and our motivation drain away. These are the times we may feel stagnant or stuck.
It can happen in so many ways. Perhaps this has happened in a job situation; you are no longer experiencing excitement and growth and you find yourself deep in the cycle of Sunday evening panic and Friday afternoon elation every week. Or, in a relationship, you are struggling to move past challenges and conflict and can’t seem to find the way ahead. Maybe, instead, it’s emotion that feels stuck, whether grief, sorrow, or anger.
Experiencing “stuckness,” may be what leads us to seek a therapist to collaborate in journeying toward goals. That said, a key component to this process is collaboration, and there are steps you can take to start to feel more ease. Consider the following in beginning to move forward:
Become clear about what you do want rather than focusing on what you don’t want. You can use journaling, art-making, and meditation or self-reflection to support this effort. Did you discover you already have some of the qualities or things you want within the current situation? Take a moment of gratitude and then set your course for attaining the rest.
Start small and make each goal measurable and attainable. Hold yourself accountable (and your therapist can help with this too!) by checking off steps you have completed and revising those that no longer fit. Make sure to write your goals using impactful, positive language. (For example, starting with “I am ” rather than “I’ll try” or “I won’t.”)
Keep in mind the things you are telling yourself along the process. Just as you did in the clarifying process, consider keeping a journal or a list of things for which you are grateful. Notice, without judgment, what happens when you start to feel discouraged. Take a deep breath. Reset. Tell yourself something positive. Notice what you can do rather than what you can’t.
Literally – move! Take a walk, go to a yoga class, do some gentle stretches to ease tension. Feeling stuck emotionally or mentally can lead to feeling stuck physically. Endorphins from physical activity will support your overall efforts. Keep your body in mind and consider how you fuel yourself.
It may be helpful to remind yourself of times you have been in this place before and succeeded. Consider seeking support, knowing that others have been here too. Keep your vision in mind – undoubtedly, its realization is just ahead.
-Maureen Kelleher, ATR, LPC