As humans, we’re naturally inclined to look for reasons to keep ourselves safe. Our brains are conditioned to fear the unknown and look for safety in things that we find comfortable and familiar.
For years, I struggled with feeling “stuck” in my life and not knowing how to deal with these feelings and emotions. I knew what I needed to do to achieve my goals, but the minute I tried to take the necessary steps to achieve them, I was overcome with overwhelming feelings of fear and anxiety. This caused me to stay in situations that I hated for way too long, out of fear of the unknown.
At the time, I made a lot of excuses about why I couldn’t do the things I wanted. I blamed my circumstances and my environment for holding me back and not giving me the opportunities to succeed. I blamed feeling “stuck” on a lack of opportunity and resented others who actually went for the things they wanted. I was so convinced that external forces were controlling what I could and couldn’t do when, in reality, it was my mindset that was keeping me stuck.
I was a privileged person, blaming my circumstances on everything around me, rather than owning up to the possibility that the only thing holding me back was my ego and my fear.
Even though I’ve cleared that initial hurdle of feeling “stuck” in my life, those feelings of uncertainty still tend to resurface from time to time. Since then, I’ve learned how to identify them. And rather than succumbing to the feelings and blaming them on something else, I try to lean into them and get to the bottom of what’s making me feel stuck.
These four questions help me to uncover what I’m feeling, and the real reasons I don’t feel like I’m moving forward. Hopefully, they help you to identify why you’re feeling stuck and give you insight into what you need to do to “unstuck” yourself.
What is holding me back?
Try to identify where the resistance is coming from. If you’re procrastinating on something, dig into the reasons why. Is it because you don’t have the skills or knowledge to move forward? Do you know what you need to do, but you just simply don’t want to do it? Maybe it’s imposter syndrome or a lack of confidence that’s holding you back.
Whatever the reason is, you don’t have to solve it. All you have to do is acknowledge it, and that might give you some insight into ways to move past those feelings.
What am I afraid of?
I’ve found that when I feel stuck, there is always an element of fear of moving forward. Most of the time, I’m afraid of failing. A lot of times, I’m scared of what other people think. There have even been a few times where I’m afraid of succeeding and the work that would come from having something go well.
Fear is natural. When you’re attempting things you’ve never done before or worked on projects that you’re passionate about, it’s reasonable to be afraid of the outcome. Vulnerability is a scary place to be in when you’re not used to putting yourself out there. Recognizing what you’re really afraid of can help you better understand why you’re feeling stuck, and give you more insight on what areas you need to focus on internally, to get you to a place where you can embrace that fear and continue to move forward.
What do I have to lose?
Ask yourself; what is the worst possible outcome of the scenario if I peruse XYZ. I go through this daily with my writing. It is a constant inner battle of perfectionism where one part of me does not want to publish content because I’m afraid of the perception, and another part of me that’s screaming “who cares what people think!”
Most of the time, I find that the worst-case scenario is not as bad as not pursuing something, to begin with. For example, if you’re afraid to send that email to your boss, or afraid to apply for a job that you think you’re not qualified for, the act of not doing it is far worse than doing it and getting a rejection. By not acting at all, you’re sheltering yourself from the possibility of rejection, but you’re also limiting yourself from the possibility of receiving fantastic news.
Where am I being pulled?
I’ve spent a lot of time ignoring the things that I want to do in exchange for something that I feel like I HAVE to do. The result was usually half-assed projects and worked on things that I don’t care about. I always saw my mind wandering as a bad thing. I wished that I could just focus on what was in front of me and be grateful for the opportunities I had. I always wondered what my life would be like if I could do things I enjoyed, and make money off of them.
These daydreams are not just your mind aimlessly wandering. They are signs that are pulling you towards the things that you want to achieve. Listen to them and pay attention.
If you’re writing, but what you wish you were doing was drawing. Listen to that urge.
I used to feel like it was too easy just to do the things I wanted to do. I felt like it something didn’t feel like work, then it wasn’t worth doing, or there had to be some sort of catch.
I had to learn how to lean into these feelings and listen to myself about what I want. Usually, the urges you feel are you being pulled in a direction that you’re meant to go in.
If you want to dive deeper into these questions, you might enjoy joining the 15-day journaling challenge.