Many of us are still pinned under the shadow of another mounting wave of the pandemic that has both defined the year and has been the backdrop for so many pivotal issues. We have been confined primarily to our homes, and activities and lifestyles have been curtailed. To some extent, life has felt like it’s been stuck in quicksand; our movement is restricted and we feel claustrophobic and suffocating slowly.
This sweeping societal sense of being stuck is an external equivalent for what many of us feel internally even without the backdrop of the pandemic; the pandemic simply provides the scenery that can shine a spotlight on that feeling of being stuck.
“Stuck” is a general way to refer to feelings of frustration, limitation, and discontent. It’s a state that triggers restlessness, resistance, grasping against nebulous pressure, constriction, and tension. Despite our best efforts to create space and freedom, struggling is pointless movement without meaningful progress.
“Stuck” can feel like a venomous form of ennui or melancholy that causes an irritation we cannot relieve. If we remain stuck for too long, it can severely damage critical aspects of life and become necrotic. But feeling stuck is not terminal and we can overcome the negative effects if we take the right steps to halt it and overcome it. The first step is to define what it is to feel stuck.
Like the virus at the center of the pandemic, feeling stuck requires knowing – and looking for – the symptoms. The symptoms can seem small and nondescript in some areas, but they are early warning signs of more severe effects yet to come. By assessing the four critical pillars in our life – self, health, wealth, and connections – we can identify the symptoms of being stuck. Certain symptoms might seem like a minor stress fracture in one area when considered in isolation, but when considered collectively, we can see a spiderweb effect revealing that a critical pillar or two could be on the verge of crumbling.
The symptoms of being stuck fall into 3 types of responses: retreat, scatter, or drift. Retreating is when we pull back from our normal behaviors and desires, or we lose a desirable emotion or condition. Scattering is when we resist in various ways that don’t produce any meaningful progress or relief; it can feel like grasping and spasming suddenly for changes. Drifting is when we give up trying to get unstuck, either through fatigue or resignation. Below are a few examples of how retreating, scattering, and drifting can show up in each of our critical pillars.
Self: Lack of enjoyment or passion; Discontent; Unhappy.
Health: Lethargy; Poor diet; Uninspired sex life.
Wealth: Increasing debt; Loss of passion or purpose in career.
Connections: Distant relationships; Lack of communication and emotions.
Self: Hobbies and activities that provide a sense of control; Change personal appearance.
Health: Hyper-focus on diet or fitness; Unsafe sex practices; Stress.
Wealth: Spending on status or material items; Chronic job searching.
Connections: Excessive social engagement and commitments; Infidelity.
Self: Longing for change without taking action.
Health: Use of numbing substances; Depression.
Wealth: Staying in career only for money; Fear of starting over or changing jobs.
Connections: Not addressing dysfunction; Loneliness.
Like with the current virus, knowing and identifying symptoms of being stuck is the key to halting the spread, minimizing the damage, and working toward recovery.
Check back soon to download a free assessment that will help you evaluate whether you are feeling stuck in any of the critical areas of your life.