Whether it’s a dead-end job, an unfulfilling relationship or a lack of passion for life, feeling stuck is a nearly universal human experience. Fortunately, there are many strategies that can help you regain momentum and get unstuck. Often, feeling stuck is a result of avoiding difficult emotions or situations. The best way to overcome this is to identify the roadblocks that are keeping you stuck and work through them. Taking small steps, changing your perspective and finding your inner motivation can help you move forward in a more productive direction.
The definition of stuck is essentially that you are stuck in place and can’t seem to move forward or make progress. Just like a foot getting stuck in the mud or a car being stuck in traffic, being stuck can be frustrating and feel like a waste of time. The word is derived from the verb stick, meaning to remain fastened or fixed in one place.
When you are stuck, it can be easy to lose sight of what you want from your life or career. In addition, your mental health may be impacted by anxiety or depression. In these cases, you may need help from a mental health professional to manage the symptoms and prevent them from affecting your ability to function effectively.
Other causes of feeling stuck can be related to self-limiting behaviors, such as self-sabotage or impostor syndrome, which can erode your confidence and stifle your potential for success. You might also feel stuck because you are unable to find a new job or start a new project due to fear of failure or the need for perfection. Having a clear sense of purpose can help you break out of a rut, as it serves as a compass for your life and provides motivation to move forward.
During the pandemic, people felt stuck in both space and time, with their daily lives revolving around the same routine day after day. Although they were attempting to stay safe, it was hard for them to enjoy their lives and develop new relationships when so many of their communities were under lockdown. This affective state was referred to by Frantz Fanon as “affective ankylosis.”
When you’re stuck, it’s important to identify the root causes of your emotional pain. Getting to the bottom of the issues can help you narrow down your strategies for overcoming your obstacles and moving forward. For example, if you are feeling stuck in your job, it might be helpful to consider the impact of your workplace culture and how it can prevent your creativity, growth and engagement. Similarly, if you’re feeling stuck in your relationship, you might consider the importance of communication and listening skills in sustaining a healthy partnership.