5 Ways to Get “Unstuck”

Feeling “stuck” can mean lots of different things.  It can mean feeling bored, depressed, anxious, frustrated, lacking motivation, and so many other feelings.  We can feel “stuck” in our relationships, our careers, our family life, our health, or our personal goals.  It is okay to acknowledge this “stuckness” and be curious about it.  Here are some ways that I try to help myself when I am feeling “stuck” in some area of my life.  

  1. Reframe the way you are thinking about things! Recognize the “lies” or cognitive distortions you are telling yourself and be more honest with yourself. 
Cognitive DistortionExample of What it SaysExamples to Challenge it
All or none/ Black or White/ Perfectionistic“I told myself I wasn’t going to eat any sweets today, but since I had a donut this morning, I might as well eat all the cookies too.”Every bite counts as much as the last!  Stop while you are ahead!  Stop labeling foods as “good” or “bad”.  Ask how you want to nurture your body now.
Magical Thinking“It will be easier to get back on my meal plan on Monday”.   “If no one sees me eat it, then it doesn’t count.”It won’t be any easier to get “back on track” on Monday as it is to do the NEXT best thing for your body at your next meal/snack time.  
I don’t care/ It Doesn’t Matter“It doesn’t matter that I’m eating this food, I don’t care about my health/body.”“I want to eat this food (i.e. cake, pizza, etc) and I care about my health.”  “How can I enjoy this food and take care of my body?”
Hopelessness“I knew I couldn’t make it all week making good food choices/ working out every day.”Hopelessness is just more all or none thinking.  Remind yourself of a time that you did make healthy choices.  You have 3-5 times per day to make healthy food choices.  Do the next best thing!

2 . Identify goals that are important to you to that are in alignment with your values.

Identify WHY your health goals are important.  Do NOT use a number on a scale as a reason… this isn’t a reason and it does not indicate how healthy you are in any ways!!  Instead, think of things like, 

“I want to be able to play with my kids/grandkids.”

“I want to not have to take as much medications.”

“I want to feel better/have more energy/more stamina, etc.”

“I want to be able to ski (or engage in some specific activity) again.”

“I want to be able to live independently for as long as possible and be able to enjoy my life/travel/etc.”

3. Get to know the “stuck” part!

Another way of coping with feeling stuck is being able to separate (unblend) from that “stuck” part.  Ask that part of yourself to take a step back.  Maybe try engaging your core and straightening your back.  Ask that “stuck” part to give you some space so that you can get to know it.  

Ask yourself, “how do I feel towards this stuck part?’  Notice if you have curiosity or compassion towards this part.  If you notice any critical or judgmental feelings ask that part to take a step back for now.  

Ask that part what is its goal/purpose?  I strongly believe that all of our parts of ourselves are present in order to protect us in the best way they know how.  What is the part telling you about its role/purpose?  What is that part afraid would happen if it took a step back and wasn’t so blended with you?  Is it trying to keep you from getting hurt by working really hard and not meeting a goal?  Is it afraid of what feelings may surface if you are nourishing your body in a healthy way?  Maybe it doesn’t feel like it can tolerate putting so much energy into this goal and then potentially not meeting the goal. 

Reassure that “stuck” part that you hear its concerns.  Let it know you appreciate it for doing what it can to keep you safe.  Does that part recognizing that you are made up of several different parts and all of those parts are trying to protect you?  Does this “stuck” part know about your strong “Self” and its ability to keep you safe? 

Understanding that each of us has a strong “self” inside that has always been present can allow us to trust this presence and feel calm.  Connecting and staying in “self” is a really helpful way to understand what your goals really are and what next steps you want to take to accomplish them. Recognize that a strong emotion is almost always only a part of you and ask it to take a step back so you can observe it and get to know it with curiosity and compassion, while you are in your “self”.      

4. Get support!

Social support can be a super helpful tool!  We are social beings and most of us function better in the context of others.  Join a health/fitness group (watch out for those “fitness groups” that are really just encouraging dieting and other unsafe/unhelpful behaviors!).  Engage in a hobby, sport, activity you enjoy, and connect with others.  Lastly, having a partner to help you stay accountable towards YOUR goals can be very beneficial (and more fun!).

5. Practice mindfulness

Recognize where you are in this moment.  Identify 5 senses (smell, taste, touch/feel, see, hear) and how your body feels.  Identify any thoughts or feelings you are experiencing.  I don’t need to place judgement or value on these things, I can just be aware of them.  I love going outside and identifying my 5 senses and allowing myself to connect with nature.  Reminding myself that in this moment I am safe.  Look into apps such as Insight Timer that allow you to practice guided meditations.  Visualize yourself being healthy, happy, content, successful… whatever you want in your life and image that these things have already happened.  You have the ability to help create the life that you want!

Tonya McFarland, PsyD, CEDS

Licensed Psychologist, Certified Eating Disorder Specialist