A Rock, A Hard Place and Knee-Deep in Quicksand: How to Come Unstuck

Today's #IBOT post comes to you from Jason at Daily Zen.  It's his advice for getting unstuck when life is conspiring to trap you in one place, unable to get out.  

I've had a little taste of this over the last week with a house full of sick people in the midst of an Antarctic Vortex (which to be fair differs little from standard Ballarat winter).  Despite my intense desire to write, to work, to get the house tidy, to adventure, to start new projects and to enjoy the last week of the school holidays with the kids we've instead been stuck inside surrounded by tissues, blankets, pain killers, dirty dishes, unwashed laundry and general mess and chaos.  

I was as antsy as anything - or I would have been if I'd been well enough -  but I took Jason's advice. I prioritised our recovery and rested and when I could I picked one small thing and made a start.  It's small scale stuff but it worked.  Thanks Jason. 

Stuck. It’s an awful feeling. Stuck. It’s a common feeling. So many times we feel trapped by circumstances that seem out of our control. We can’t move, we can’t make decisions, we can’t act. We feel helpless. Sometimes, it’s a problem that’s bigger than us.  It could be a difficult decision. Maybe we’re not feeling up to doing what's necessary. Whatever the case, stuck is stuck.

Perhaps we’re the primary bread-winner in our family. We’ve been at our job for a long time and we’re making pretty good money. Our spouse has a good job, one she enjoys, but it doesn’t pay very well. We’ve lost our passion for our job and we’re just going through the motions, but we know a move somewhere else is going to require us to take several steps backwards financially. And the bills, we’ve got plenty of them. There’s a family to care for, a mortgage to pay and we’re up to our ears in debt. What can we do?

tips for coming unstuck

Maybe we’ve got a family at home, the house is full. We both work full-time jobs. Then our mother, who lives on her own, gets sick. We love her dearly, but we can’t afford to stop working. She requires nearly full-time supervision and medical attention. Hiring a nurse to stay with her is really expensive, but would give us peace of mind and allow her to stay in her own home. Putting her into a nursing home is more affordable, but we’d feel guilty about taking away her independence. Neither option is a clear-cut win. Which way do we turn?

We’re feeling depressed. We’ve gone to the doctor and we’re on some medication that’s supposed to make us feel better. We’re seeing a counselor and even that doesn’t seem to be working. We’ve read some self-help books and we started exercising. But we’re not feeling any better. Our confidence is shrinking and we feel ourselves withdrawing from the world. It feels like everything we try to do to fix ourselves just makes things worse. We’re wondering whether it would just be better to give up. How do we get ourselves more help?

These can all be very difficult places to find ourselves. We’ve done our due diligence. We’ve turned over every rock. We’ve found the needle in the haystack and it wasn’t what we were looking for. We feel like we’ve tried every option available to us and nothing’s going to work.

So what can we do now?

Examine your priorities. Have you thought about what’s important in this situation? What do you want the final solution to look like? Sit down and make a list of pros and cons. What is the single most important part of this issue’s outcome for you? Can you narrow your goals down to just one option? If not, write down all of the important aspects of this situation and rank them. Keep your priorities simple and focused.

Assess your expectations. Think about what you want to get out of resolving this problem. Is this something you’re doing to benefit yourself or does it involve others? Are you being too selfish? Are you giving up too much? If you change what you’re expecting to get, does it make finding a solution to this problem easier? Many times, changing our expectations will fundamentally change our perspective on a given event. By looking at our problem in a new light, new solutions will appear that we may not have thought of before.

Pick a direction and start. If nothing else seems to be working, take your most educated guess and start moving in that direction. As you start taking an action, you’ll begin to see how different pieces of your puzzle might start falling into place. You’ll gain some new perspective and that will allow you a fresh view of your problem. This new viewpoint will give you more information to help you work on a solution. You might find that the direction you’ve chosen isn’t going to be the one you want to continue with. That’s ok. You’ve started moving on this problem and you’ve got some momentum, so just try a different direction. A solution will present itself if you keep looking.

Feeling stuck can be one of the worst feelings in the world. There are times we push and push against a problem, and it just won’t budge. We bang our fists and heads against the wall, but it just won’t crack. We struggle and struggle to find a solution, but we keep sinking deeper and deeper into the problem.

Making sure we have solid priorities and reasonable expectations are the first steps to making ourselves un-stuck. Getting moving and doing work is the next one. And we don’t even have to do all of the work. Getting the ball moving is what we’re aiming for. Once that happens, a world of potential solutions opens up to us.

Jason Large, Daily Zen

Jason has suffered from depression and anxiety for over twenty years. He can be contacted at: https://www.facebook.com/jason.large.12?fref=nf

Are you feeling stuck at the moment? What do you do to get unstuck?  Let me know in the comments below.