Nobody likes feeling stuck.
I’m not talking stuck like having worn too-tight pants to Thanksgiving dinner and having to wait until you get home to free yourself, although that’s unpleasant too.
I mean stuck in life.
Maybe you have felt frustrated at work for a while, but you don’t know what to do about it.
Maybe you watch yourself and your partner have basically the same arguments over and over and over….and over and over and over.
Maybe you’re one of those people (present company included) who regularly sets ambitious goals and then watches with equal regularity as you ditch those same goals two months or two weeks or two minutes later.
Maybe you have a decision you find impossible to make. Should we get married? Should we get pregnant? Should we move to the east? Or west? Or all the way down under?
Maybe you have a dynamic with your child you can’t seem to shift. Or with your boss. Or with your phone. Or with exercise.
Maybe you love what you do, but you can’t seem to earn enough. Or maybe you earn enough, but you can’t seem to love what you do.
The point is. We people, we get stuck, and we hate it.
This is a problem. To be clear, it’s not a problem that we get stuck. That just happens, to all of us. It’s a problem that we hate it.
Do you remember as kids, those things we called “finger traps?”
If you’re new to these contraptions, it works like this: you put a finger in each end and…you’re stuck. Eager to remove your fingers you do the most obvious thing. You pull. Which makes you more stuck. So you pull harder. The harder you pull, the more stuck you are.
The secret to escape is to allow your two fingers to relax toward each other which loosens the grip of the trap. What a perfect analogy.
Pause for 15 seconds here and think about an area in your life where you feel stuck. Consider writing it down.
Now notice how much you wish you weren’t stuck in this way. Notice the resistance to your own stuckness.
Life is the way it is, and you want it to be different. This is like the two fingers pulling away from each other.
But what if stuckness isn’t a problem? What if it’s actually a gift?
What if stuckness is holding you in place long enough to force you to move through this difficulty in a new and creative way?
Usually when we’re stuck, especially smart, capable people, it’s because we’re trying old strategies on an area for which those strategies won’t work. And we know they won’t work, because they haven’t.
Perhaps you’re someone who’s usually great at making things happen, but around this topic, you need to become someone who can wait-and-see.
Or maybe you’re excellent and convincing people of things, but for this issue, you need to learn to really hear what others are saying.
Or maybe you’re someone who’s a genius at figuring out complicated problems, but this issue requires more body wisdom and less logic.
What if, in order to solve this particular issue, you have to grow in some way? Or see the world differently? Or carve out a new path or idea different from anything you’ve explored before?
The finger trap analogy is perfect in another way, because anytime we’re stuck, it’s usually because we have different aspects of ourselves with different priorities pulling against each other.
In my own life, the part of me that wants to share Welcoming is threatened by the part of me that loves lounging around in Yin Yoga poses. The part of me that wants deep rest and introspection is threatened by the part of me that loves to work.
These two can tug and tug at each other, making me feel like I’m never doing enough of either.
Instead, if I bring both of these parts of me together, I can start to listen to myself better and ask new questions. Such as, “What does it mean to work without compromising relaxation?” or “What does it mean to rest without sabotaging productivity?”
Instead of an internal competition, it becomes an internal collaboration and something new can happen. By gently allowing both of these parts to come toward each other, by allowing them both to be valid and true, over time I eventually find myself living into solutions that serve all my parts, not just the loudest ones.
Usually resistance to stuckness happens too.
When we resist stuckness, we usually ask questions like:
What the h*** is wrong with me?
Why haven’t I figured this out yet?
Am I hopeless around this?
If we allow the feeling of stuckness, and let ourselves get curious about it, we can ask questions like:
If this stuckness is holding me in place for a reason, what might that be?
What needs am I trying to meet that seem in conflict?
What totally new strategy could I explore?
If you’d like further support with this, here is a 10-minute recorded exploration that will help you relax into stuckness, and hopefully, eventually, find yourself on the other side.