How to Get ‘Unstuck’ in Life
Do you feel stuck in your life? A job? A relationship? Do you sense a lack of purpose? Are you overwhelmed? Confused? Stuck in a rut? If you answered “yes” to any of these feelings, you are not alone. Some of the finest, most talented, intelligent people I know get stuck at times.
Rhonda felt stuck and couldn’t seem to break free. Her story may not be your story, but the principles she used to find a breakthrough may be the same principles you could use to get unstuck. As a single mom in her thirties, Rhonda had made some poor choices. She told me she wasn’t very good at choosing the right man. Her first marriage, which produced the “true joy” of her life, her 4-year-old son, had been a disaster. In college, Rhonda got involved with a good looking and charming guy who didn’t have the same faith or morals as Rhonda. She thought she could change him and really what happened is that she changed. The marriage didn’t last. Because she had no money, she moved back in with her parents for support. As much as she appreciated her parents investing in her life and especially in her son’s life, she wanted out.
Rhonda met a guy at a party who was a lot like her ex-husband – charming, good-looking, and adventuresome. On the second date, she ended up in bed with him and she said she would never have done so if she hadn’t been drinking so much that night. She was still fairly diligent about going to church. She told me in many ways she was living a “dual lifestyle.” Her faith in God was important to her, but she was choosing to not follow the faith she grew up with and felt a lot of guilt and shame. She told me she knew better, but just couldn’t commit. She said it felt like she was “walking in circles.”
One day after a crisis with the man she was dating, a bad day at work, and out of control behavior with her son, she asked if she could meet me at my office. In a rare moment of brutal honesty, she laid out the truth. She was stuck. Her life and lifestyle were not what she wanted. She desperately wanted out of the relationship with her latest guy. She wanted to thrive in her relationship with God. Her lifestyle was not healthy and she said she was going nowhere with her life. Over a period of several months we came up with four principles to get unstuck and have a breakthrough. Here they are:
- Face Your Fears
Fear is a paralyzer. People can’t move forward when they are afraid. If you want to get unstuck, you’ll have to face your fears. Identify them and acknowledge that they are holding you back. Rhonda would periodically just run away from a fear and that typically made things worse. You can’t allow the fear of loss to stop you from moving forward. Admit what’s holding you back and begin to make the moves to make healthy changes.
- Surround Yourself with Support
Rhonda had been ducking her support system. She didn’t want the accountability. She was fortunate enough to have a family who cared and would support her. She didn’t have a good support system of friends, so she made a courageous decision to join a Bible study with people her age. Over the year, the Bible study group became a strong source of support and friendship. When you surround yourself with positive support and accountability, you are much more willing to listen to the group of people who want the best for you. If you don’t have a support base, find one. No one said getting unstuck was easy. Rhonda needed to listen to those closest to her who loved her and wanted the best for her. At the same time, she needed to make healthy changes on her own. Pride and fear had kept her from submitting to those closest to her.
- Take a Big Step and Many Baby Steps
I remember telling Rhonda, “I think you know what to do next.” The principle goes like this, “When the pain of remaining the same is greater than the pain of changing, you will change.” Rhonda knew that she needed to take the big step. She knew what to do, but was simply too afraid to do it. Sometimes we need to take the leap and other times it means taking baby steps that after a while, give us the confidence to get unstuck. Someone once said, “Nothing is particularly difficult if you take baby steps to get it done.” You can affect change one step at a time. What matters most is to keep moving in the right direction.
- This Time, Include God
Rhonda knew her answer was partly found in submitting her stubborn will to the will of God. From her upbringing, she really knew what to do. She had a Biblical foundation in her head but what she needed to do was surrender her life to God’s will. She had to acknowledge her need for God and that she was powerless to live her most effective life without obeying the One who created her. Rhonda also knew that if she surrendered her life to Christ, some of her habits would need to change. But the first step is surrender and then change comes.
Today Rhonda has a few relational scars, but has chosen to make decisions that would keep her from being stuck. No one promised it would be easy. But she is the first to say she is on the right path.