What does it mean to “feel stuck” ?

Does this idea of ‘being stuck’ resonate with you? Many individuals who I have the privilege of working with start off by saying they feel “stuck”, that they know what things they should be doing in order to feel good, but they can’t seem to actually do those things.

Feeling stuck is this overarching sense that you need to do something to move you from the place you’re in to the place you’d rather be – but you just can’t. People describe this as being “frozen in place” and may even question themselves, their character, and their drive.

One of the many goals of therapy is to assist you in identifying why you’re feeling stuck, work through the emotions, feelings and situations that have led you to where you are now, and finally, figuring out what can help you remove these roadblocks.

The first and most essential step that takes place in the therapy process is developing awareness. This can occur through discussing situations in our lives that have had an impact on us, identifying our defense mechanisms or cognitive distortions that are keeping us in that place, and discovering patterns or themes that have been present in our lives. Addressing what’s really existing within us can be difficult, but with the help of a therapist guiding you, it can be much more comfortable. Only then can we truly establish the steps that will make a difference for you.

This concept of ‘feeling stuck’ is often thought of as a result of lasting symptoms of depression. Although this is true for some, it may not be the root for all. People feel stuck not only due to symptoms impacting their ability to implement change, but also due to a lack of processing past traumas or wounds, not having awareness into why things are the way they are, struggles with motivation, over-thinking, low confidence and self-worth, fear, outgrowing your current situation, and so much more.

One way to get ‘unstuck’ and increase feelings of accomplishment or betterment is using your mind, emotions and body to work for you and not against you. If you haven’t commenced the therapy process just yet, remember that this can be a beneficial way to navigate this feeling so that you can then implement strategies to create change. Until then, remember that the more we feed a thought, the stronger it becomes. Try refrain from telling yourself “here’s that stuck feeling again” or “I always just feel so stuck in this same place”. Instead, recognize the feeling and remind yourself that awareness is the first step – something that you’re already doing! Highlighting the small things that can be beneficial to you can increase feelings of control, choice, and help you feel more grounded.