It can be a difficult subject to talk about but feeling stuck in life is something that many of us go through at one time or another. That overwhelming sense that you’re not where you want to be, but also feeling clueless as to where that ‘place’ actually is, can lead to a build-up of anxiety and frustration. In this article, we explore this stifling state of being and offer advice on how to overcome it.
What does it mean to feel stuck?
You may have reached a place where you’re not enjoying your job, your relationship isn’t what you dreamed of, or you’re simply tired of the same routine day in day out. Feeling stuck can make one feel completely de-motivated and it can seem like there are no options available for your situation to change.
If you are feeling this way it may be helpful to hear that you are not alone. A study in the UK found that 69% of participants felt trapped in their routine and 40% were unhappy with their life in general. Of those that stated they felt stuck in their routine, they also disclosed that the reason for not making changes in their lives was because they had no idea where to start.
Why do I feel so left behind?
So why do so many of us feel stuck? For a start, the prominence of social media can have an impact on our life satisfaction as we witness portrayals of the best version of people’s lives and compare our own to this vision of perfection. This can be an unhelpful comparison and perhaps lead you to be a harsher critic of your current situation than you need to be. Despite this, if feelings of dissatisfaction persist beyond your scroll through social media it could be time to make some changes.
Another cause of feeling stuck can be the constant pressure to achieve in a world which values progress above everything else. This can make it incredibly difficult to take the time to reconsider areas of your life which you are not currently satisfied with, for fear of the potential uncertainty that may happen as things start to change.
For example, you might have a successful career but find the daily grind of your job is no longer satisfying you. However, in changing careers you fear the financial uncertainty, what you will do next, and what your friends and family will think about you leaving your position. This is a classic case of external pressures leading you to stay stuck.
Not addressing feelings of being stuck can mean that these feelings get pushed away but remain present in some way through the persistence of general life dissatisfaction, negative thought patterns, and growing anxieties. It’s important to remember that making changes in your life to reduce the feeling of being stuck does not mean that you have to make huge changes straight away. Indeed, in a few small steps, you can start feeling good again and break out of your comfort zone.
How do I become unstuck?
Here are our top tips on what can help if you’re feeling stuck in life.
1. Take some time to consider your values
A key way of helping to become unstuck is to take some time to consider your values. Whilst our values guide us through life, they are sometimes hidden under the surface. Therefore, it is important to take the time to consider what our values are to help us to find direction in life again.
No one but you can identify your values. They are the things that represent who we want to be in the world. They shape how we engage with others, and the choices we make about the work we do and the activities we pursue.
Taking the time to consider what your values are, it can help you to identify the areas of your life which are currently not reflecting these. It could be that your work does not reflect your value of creating positive change in the world, or that certain restrictions in your life mean that you are unable to be the loving and caring partner/sibling/child/parent that you wish to be.
As you begin to pinpoint the aspects of your life which may be causing the ‘stuck’ feeling it can be helpful to write these down and consider what other options are available which would enable you to be more in tune with your values, and how you might pursue these.
2. Talk about how you’re feeling
Feeling stuck can be a lonely position as you may think that everyone around you has got it sorted. However, opening up about how you’re feeling to friends and family could really open your eyes to the fact that many people have gone through a similar time in their life. Through sharing how you’re feeling with someone you trust it not only releases your burden, you are also likely to receive some helpful advice. They may even have some potential options for you to pursue to get you out of your rut.
So often feelings of being stuck relate to our work-life. It can be extremely difficult to be open with our employers, however, in doing so it could open doors to some new opportunities that may lead you to greater satisfaction.
3. Introduce something new in your life
It could be something small or it could be something big. By introducing something new into our lives, we can find a new direction and feel refreshed. This could be something small like adding a morning walk into your daily routine, but always treading a new path to something bigger like joining a class doing something you’ve always told yourself you want to try but have never done.
What you introduce doesn’t have to be routine. Getting out into nature, be it in an inner-city park, a mountain range or looking out to sea, can be majorly beneficial to your mental and physical well-being. Forcing yourself to try new things can also help you gain a new perspective on life. Indeed, it can be great to step away from the routine and treat your daily life as you might a holiday with no plans, freedom, and no stress.
4. Try meditation
Whether you are feeling stuck because of something you can’t stop focusing on in your past, you feel you don’t have time in your life to make changes, or you are lacking in confidence, meditation can be an incredible tool to boost your well-being and help you stop feeling stuck in a rut. However, even if you feel great, taking the time to practice meditation is still a good idea as it can help you truly connect with yourself.
Meditation can offer us new insights that can transform our view of the world. Just as Einstein recognised, “we cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking we used to create them”. Meditation can help us change our perception about problems and find new answers otherwise hidden from us. For example, by focusing solely on our breath and removing our constant focus on time and our worries, we can soon realise that we have more of it and open up new opportunities in our minds-eye.
5. Set yourself a time-frame
Making major changes in your life is not easy. So it is worth giving yourself time to consider what it is that is causing your life dissatisfaction and what could be done to change this. In identifying your values and talking about how you’re feeling you may have unveiled some difficult truths which means making some big decisions.
In setting yourself a time-frame you can allow yourself time to process these feelings. If you’ve followed step 3 in introducing something new in your life this may have been the missing link to overcome a temporary blip in life satisfaction. However, if something more is required it can be helpful to give yourself a deadline as to when you will make the change you need.
Feeling stuck in life is something that pretty much every person goes through at some point in their life. It can happen at any time, and it is something that you should certainly not beat yourself up about. Taking the time to consider what your values are is a great way of helping to identify areas of your life where these values are currently not represented. It can also be incredibly helpful to speak to others about how you’re feeling to gain insight into areas of potential change.
Sometimes all it takes is a small step to overcome the rut, such as joining a new class or giving yourself more time in nature. However, if the changes that need to be made are on a larger scale it is a good idea to set yourself a time-frame to make this decision to ensure that your feeling of being stuck is not allowed to persist long-term.
Through my personal experiences, I have always held a strong interest in human suffering and satisfaction; this greatly influenced my career path. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy before completing a master’s degree in psychology at Regent’s University London.
I then completed a postgraduate diploma in philosophical counselling before being trained in ACT(Acceptance and commitment therapy).
I’ve spent the last eight years studying the encounter of meditative practices with modern psychology.