We all go through periods of our lives when we feel completely stuck. It can be an incredibly frustrating experience, but it’s also perfectly normal.
We all get stuck sometimes.
Feeling like a failure may be one of the worst aspects of getting stuck in our lives.
It is so easy for the mind to wonder, “Am I supposed to be doing something other than this?” Or worse, we can even start to think, “Maybe there is something intrinsically wrong with me.”
We often get stuck because most of us have no idea how to skillfully work with our own pain.
Two ways of dealing with pain that don’t help:
1. Repressing the pain we feel by putting on a big smile and pretending everything is great, when really we feel that everything sucks and is too hard.
2. Completely focusing on the pain and turning it into our identity and total existence.
The concept of impermanence is one of the most important Buddhist teachings that we can use to get unstuck. Everything is always changing.
There is a flow to life—a flow of arising and dissolving.
Every moment is different.
We are born and we die and in between we change again and again and again.
If we hold too tight to any moment it solidifies in our energetic system and clogs up this flow of life.
We have all heard the expression that we need to “let go.” This can be a difficult term to understand. I spent years trying to figure out what the actual mechanism of “letting go” looks like.
Now I see that letting go is simply allowing the old to come up to the surface of our experience by acknowledging every experience we have on this human journey and truly feeling it. When we do this we can intentionally acknowledge our experiences and then let them move out of our consciousness as innocently as they moved in.
When we are feeling stuck we are often clinging to our old selves too tightly. New energy is always trying to move into our systems, but if there is no room because the energy of the past is taking up all the space, then it’s easy to get stuck between the new and the old.
When the energy of the old and new can’t flow, we can become frozen in a sense of stuckness.
When this happens we each need to ask ourselves this question:
“Am I a stagnant pond, or a flowing river?”
If we believe we are a river, then the old pain will be able to flow freely.
The challenge is in the fact that the mind is rarely a kind ally in this free-flowing process. The mind wants to keep us safe, but the only way it can do this is to use information from the past, because that’s all it has.
The mind reminds us of our past failures and shortcomings and warns us not to tread on new ground, as it seems likely things won’t work out in the newness unfolding.
These messages from the mind play big part in keeping us feeling stuck.
It takes courage to say, “no, thank you,” to the mind.
Getting unstuck means seeing the fear, seeing the pain—old and new—and letting it be real, but not letting it be who we are.
If we’re brave, we can let all the stuckness, depression, frustration, heartbreak, anxiety and fear be real in our systems, and at the same time choose not to believe these moments are our true self.
We can talk gently to the places where we hurt and tell them we see them, and that they are perfect—and then we ask them to gently keep moving along. We ask all the stuckness to jump in the river and flow along so new experiences can arise—that is, if we are willing to believe we aren’t a stagnant pond.
Everything moves, everything changes.
This is the challenge of life and the opportunity life has to offer us.
The more we choose to see this constant change as opportunity, the more we can work with the flow and let the natural current of the river of life wash away the stuckness, rafting us into infinite possibility, which is always in the here and now even if we are having trouble acknowledging it.
When we are feeling stuck, we need support to stay in the flow.
We need to reach out to friends, healers and other support systems and ask them to remind us that life is a river. We need to let people know that right now we feel stuck and ask for reminders about what gets the stuckness moving along again.
We all feel stuck sometimes; this is not a sign of failure, but a sign of having normal human experiences.
The more we see feeling stuck as an opportunity to find and clear out the places we no longer need within ourselves, the more we can use the present moment for our highest well-being.
Is there any other purpose to life?
Author: Ruth Lera
Image: Paz Arando/Unsplash
Editor: Toby Israel