Feeling Stuck? Here’s How to Get Unstuck


When you are stuck, you are unable to move forward. Getting stuck in mud is a clear example, but you can also get stuck on a problem in your work or relationship, or feel suffocated by negative thoughts or self-talk. Feeling stuck can be an uncomfortable place to be, but it’s important to recognize the feeling and take steps to break free from it.

A rut is a pattern of behavior or thinking that has become ingrained in your routine. A rut can feel like you are stuck in neutral gear when driving your car, or like you’re in the same position in your career, but it is usually a result of a conscious decision not to try something different.

Feeling stuck in a rut may be a sign of an anxiety disorder. Persistent, unwanted, and repetitive thoughts or mental images (either single or multiple) are a common symptom of anxiety disorders, and they are often referred to as “earworms.”

Being stuck can also be a metaphor for being frozen in time, trapped by past trauma, or unable to reach your goals. While traumatic events can cause feelings of being stuck, the way a person responds to these events is unique to them. If 10 people experience the same event, each will react to it differently based on their genetics, life experiences and their individual responses to other triggers.

The feeling of being stuck can also be caused by a lack of social support and isolation. Some people are able to pull themselves out of a rut by finding new friends, and some find it helpful to talk about their feelings with a trained counselor. However, if you’re struggling with severe, persistent or intense negative emotions and aren’t able to get un stuck by changing your environment or working on your own, it is recommended that you consult with a licensed professional.

Frank: For many employees, the feeling of being stuck in a job can be due to a toxic workplace culture or a difficult boss. How can leaders help these employees get unstuck? Robinson: If an employee feels stuck, the first step is to validate their feelings. This doesn’t mean unpacking all their issues or being in their feelings, but it does encourage employees to shift from asking why they are feeling stuck to identifying three choices available right now and choosing one.

Another way to unstick yourself is by fostering positive physiology, or the ways you move and breathe. Negative emotions are reinforced by bad physiology, so good physiology helps to create a positive mindset and overcome negative emotions. Changing your breathing, posture, or even going for a short walk can all make you feel reenergized and break negative patterns.