Five Things to Do When You Feel Stuck

Most people reach a point on their healing journey when they feel stuck—like they don’t know how to (or don’t want to) move forward. Maybe you keep ending up at the same place with a particular issue or struggle.

If this sounds familiar, then you’re in good company. It’s a common experience on a recovery journey and part of the normal ebb and flow of healing. But it still requires an active response on our part. Here are some ways to approach getting stuck.

  1. Get curious.

In my experience, being stuck isn’t random or coincidental. It usually happens for a reason. Another way to look at being stuck is acknowledging resistance. We’ve avoided certain things because they are painful, so it’s natural to feel apprehensive about taking steps forward. Some questions you can ask yourself:

  • What is being stuck doing for me?
  • If I weren’t stuck, what would be my next move?
  • Am I experiencing the stuck feeling in my body? If it could speak, what would it say?
  1. Practice acceptance.

Acceptance is an essential recovery tool. Let me be clear: acceptance doesn’t mean that you resign yourself to being stuck and think, oh well, that’s just the way it is. It’s about accepting that getting stuck is part of the process and not stressing that it’s happening. Worrying about being stuck creates another layer of angst, and you end up focusing on the angst rather than being present to your experience.

  1. Be patient.

Being stuck can feel uncomfortable, and sometimes there’s a tendency to rush to a solution. This doesn’t leave room for curiosity. Staying stuck indefinitely isn’t helpful, but looking for a quick answer may cause you to miss what the experience is trying to teach you. This is where trusting the process comes in handy—and where trusting the process can be really hard.

  1. Avoid judgment.

Judging yourself for being stuck isn’t helpful. This judgment often sounds like: Why am I not getting better faster? What’s wrong with me that this is taking so long? I need to get my act together. These kinds of thoughts can make the stuck feeling even stronger, and honestly, it’s one way not to move forward. If you’re stewing in self-judgment, you aren’t going anywhere but in circles.

  1. Do the next indicated thing.

It sometimes feels like you have to find THE right next step to move forward from being stuck, which can exacerbate the problem because it’s hard to know what THE right thing is. Pick something (healthy) and do it. It doesn’t matter if it feels monumental or tedious. Just do it. Some ideas:

  • Journal about the stuck feeling. What do you think and feel about it? When did you notice it kick in? Is there any part of you that’s afraid of being unstuck?
  • Connect with the stuck feeling and then express it creatively—paint, draw, collage. See what you learn.
  • Reach out to a recovery friend who is further down the road and ask if they’ll share experience, strength, and hope about their experiences of feeling stuck.
  • Move your body—walk, hike, dance.

Feeling stuck in your healing journey isn’t bad or goodit just is. If you allow yourself to be open to learning from it, you often will.

Peace on the journey,