The last few weeks been really frustrating for me. It seemed like everything had been grinding to a slow and painful halt. Doing energy work with myself and others just didn’t seem to be working. I’d been taking more painkillers than usual because I couldn’t convince my body to stop hurting. The housing market I was hoping would open up and reveal the perfect rental wasn’t cooperating. I had a list of decisions that I wasn’t making just because I was hoping to get some clarity on where I’d be living and what I’d be doing in the next few months. I realized that I’m almost two years into this early retirement experiment and I feel I have little to show for it (I can at least blame some of that on Covid). Even the weather was cold and gloomy, stalling my plans for hiking or beachgoing. There were some good things going on during this time, but nothing that felt like progress toward my goals. I felt stuck, stuck, STUCK.
With everything flatlining around me, I did what any normal person would do in those circumstances.
I gave up.
Yup. I got tired of fighting. Tired of trying to make something work that clearly didn’t want to. “Ok,” I told the Universe. “I knew from the beginning that I couldn’t do this alone. If you aren’t going to help me make this new life happen, then I’m done. I’m going to have to go back to my boring, uninspired existence.”
With those profound thoughts I went back to bed and spent the next few days listening to music, watching YouTube videos, and staring into space. I drove to the lake and made a long list of things that I could do other than run my own business and wait for the perfect rental to come up. I wrote down things I wanted to do whether or not I would move in the next few months. I did some yelling and crying and throwing things around.
You know what happened in the middle of this massive pity party? Something shifted. An energy wall I had been butting my head against dissolved. Small things started to work themselves out. I discovered a new way to release energy that reduced my pain significantly. The weather started clearing so I could get outside. One day, out of nowhere, I decided to go for a run (I haven’t even tried that in over a year). I made a list of gardens I want to go see in the next few weeks. I decided that I don’t want to give up my business without trying a few more things first.
Slowly and surprisingly, I have stopped feeling stuck. Things feel like they are moving again. Energy is flowing. My body is showing signs of healing. I’m making some decisions that I’ve been avoiding for a while. I’m doing some work for my business again. The inflatable kayak I’ve wanted for over a year was back in stock so I drove an hour to buy it. I put some stuff up for sale that will make it easier to move when it is time. Yesterday a bracelet I’ve been missing for months showed up on my bedroom floor (I have no explanation for that). I don’t clearly see the path ahead, but I can see what I need to do tomorrow and maybe the day after that. Most importantly, I feel really good. Physically, emotionally, and energetically I’m in a better place than I was a week ago.
You may very well be asking, “Katie, are you seriously recommending giving up as an appropriate way forward?”
Well, yes and no. I think that sometimes giving up and stepping back can be a really good decision. If you’ve tried everything else and you can’t think of anything different, than why not? Obviously, I’m not suggesting you jump off a bridge or let your kids starve. I’m just saying that you can give in and let things go for a day or two and the world will not end. You can take a day off and stay in bed. You can cancel some plans with friends and stay home feeling crummy. Try it for a day and see what happens. If you do, I would suggest that you 1) make sure you don’t hurt anyone else in the process and 2) be safe.
If giving up doesn’t feel like your best option right now, then there are lots of other things to try to help you get unstuck. In fact, there were a lot of little things got me through the past two weeks. Looking back, I realize that I was unintentionally following the advice I share with others. Here are a few examples:
When you feel stuck, just do one thing different and see what that changes. Giving up was different. Buying a new kayak was different. Trying new energy work was different.
Don’t ignore your emotions, feel them fully so you can move through them. Sometimes wallowing in your negative feelings actually helps.
Do things that bring you joy. I went hiking and kayaking. I started to run again. I bought myself a giant ginger spice cookie.
Examine your fears and limiting beliefs to see if they are holding you back. This took some work, but I found some old fears that were bottling up my energy pretty tight. No wonder I was stuck.
Let go of physical stuff holding you in a pattern of who you were and keeping you from who you want to be. I bought some new stuff and sold some old that helped nudge me energetically into the life I’m trying to create.
Get up every day to take the next right step…even if that means getting right back into bed, skipping work, or staring at the wall.
Don’t limit yourself to only “positive emotions,” “just keep trying,” or “never give up!” Our culture rarely sees stepping back, acknowledging the negative, or giving up as the way forward, but sometimes it is.
I have been stuck many times in my past. I will certainly be stuck again in my future. Being stuck is not fun, but it can be a clear sign that it’s time to do something different. The last time I was seriously stuck I knew it was time to quit my job and restart my life. This time my stuckness led me to make smaller changes. Being stuck isn’t always a world-ending experience. Sometimes you push through. Sometimes you let go and give in. No matter what the specific circumstances are, being stuck is always an opportunity to re-evaluate and change direction in some way.
If you feel stuck, it’s OK to feel lousy. What I want you to know is that no matter how immovable it feels to you, there IS a way out. There is a way through to finding the change you hope for. There is a blessing in the midst of the frustration. If you feel stuck, check out my links above for ideas of what you can try. I also have these two blog posts that deal directly with the suckiness of stuckness (I think I need to use that phrase more often):
And of course, you can always contact me. As you can tell, I have some experience with being stuck. I’m happy to talk about your experience and mine. I like helping others get unstuck through energy work and coaching. I like helping myself get unstuck, even when that means giving up for a while.
I don’t know if I’m actually moving forward significantly in my life, but I sure feel better than I did. I just got back from a run. I’m happy with the changes I’ve made this week. I feel willing to keep going with this experiment I’m doing with my life. I certainly hope it is going in the direction of my dreams. If not, I’ll make a course correction at some point and try something different. I don’t need to have it all figured out, I just need to know the next right step to take. Which right now means going to find some dinner and deciding what to read tonight. Tomorrow I’ll get up and finish this blog post and hopefully do some yoga. After that, who knows?