Feeling stuck in life is a relatively common situation. Almost all of us, at some point, have felt trapped in a place, a role, a relationship or a situation in which we do not feel comfortable. Of course, feeling trapped is not pleasant.
We can feel deeply overwhelmed and dejected because we are unable to give our life the boost we want. A sticky feeling of heaviness surrounds and anchors us where we are and prevents us from moving in any direction. When that feeling is maintained over time, it can feed the loss of meaning in life and end up transforming into depression and helplessness.
The real reason you feel stuck in life
A thousand and one reasons can be adduced to explain the feeling of stagnation in life. Some may feel trapped in a monotonous job that does not provide them with the professional opportunities they would like, others in a relationship that has ceased to satisfy them and has become a source of conflict, and still others may feel trapped in a geographic or social context. that they find it oppressive and depressing.
However, the truth is that when you feel stuck in life, you experience some unwanted paralysis that usually comes from having spent too long in an existential place for which there seems to be no way out because when you look at the horizon you do not see any transcendental change.
Basically, feeling stuck in life is the result of believing that you should be something that you are not. It is the feeling that is generated when you think that life should be different from what it is. Therefore, that feeling of paralysis is nothing more than the distance between what you are and what you would like to be, between what happens and what you would like to happen. In a certain way, feeling trapped is always the expression of a vital dissatisfaction with who we are or where we are, when we are not able to see the way out to reach the ideal situation.
After many months of pandemic and monotony, it is not uncommon for that feeling of stagnation to float in the environment and many people feel that they have not been able to move forward, experience new things, discover new places or even get excited. Routine is often the terrain in which the feeling of stagnation grows.
On the other hand, the lifestyle we lead can also amplify that feeling of paralysis. As the philosopher Byung-Chul Han explained, the burnout society leads us to self-exploit, which leads to a state of permanent existential fatigue that makes it difficult for us to manifest our vital impulse and look for something meaningful that fulfills and gives us a direction beyond work and social obligations.
What to do when you feel stuck in life?
1. Surrender to that feeling of paralysis
If you feel stuck in life, just acknowledge and accept the feeling of being stuck. The worst thing you can do is get entangled in the web of “shoulds,” “haves,” or “must.” If you relax and surrender to that feeling, you will enter a quiet period in which things will start to flow.
Take note of the thoughts and feelings you experience when you feel existentially stuck or perceive that something is wrong. If you accept that feeling, it won’t trap you. You need to realize that this is just a label that you have placed on a moment of your life that has not met your expectations.
Accepting that you feel trapped won’t make those unpleasant feelings magically go away, but at least they won’t overpower you to the point of ruining your life. The funny thing is that when you accept that you are stagnant, the miracle occurs: you will stop being stagnant because you will have taken a step out of the loop you were in.
2. Prepare to make decisions
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” Albert Einstein said. That means that if you want to get out of that stagnation phase, you must do something different to generate the change you want. If you stick with the routine, that paralyzed feeling won’t go away on its own.
Of course, making a decision is not easy. If you have reached the point of paralysis, it is probably because you have been carried away by circumstances without making decisions. You have been carried away by the flow of events because it was the simplest way. However, to get out of that loop you must ask yourself: What bothers me about that situation? What is unsatisfactory to me? What things have become a source of unhappiness? Is it fair that I settle for that situation?
Then, get on the path of change. What can you do to get out of that context? Examine your circumstances and think about what you can do right now to put the frustration you are experiencing behind you. Except for very extreme situations, something can always be done. What would stimulate you? What would make you happy? What would make you feel like you are moving forward in life?
The key is to make small decisions that get you to where you want to be. You may not be able to go from the current state to the desired one in the blink of an eye. Do not despair, just take small actions that take you out of your current apathy and bring you closer to the situation you want.
3. Embrace spontaneity and have fun
Erich Fromm thought that spontaneity is a reflection of the impulse of life, which is made to flow freely. When that flow is frustrated, usually because we try to fit into society and satisfy the expectations of others, we stop responding to our impulses, we disconnect from ourselves, and a distance is created between what we want and what we do.
Over time, when that distance widens, we lose spontaneity and the ability to have fun. Then we feel stuck in life. For this reason, one of the strategies to regain the will to live and re-immerse ourselves in that vital flow is to regain spontaneity.
When you feel like doing something, do it! Connect with your inner impulses and give them the opportunity to express themselves. If you feel like dancing, writing, painting, taking a trip … just get going without wondering why. In reality, we would not have to look for any excuse or reason to have fun and enjoy life.
The most spontaneous and creative activities usually have no purpose other than to make us feel good. They do not usually have an objective, but are a destination in themselves. The truth is that there is always something to do when you feel stuck because all areas of your life are not completely paralyzed. A small push in one area can generate a snowball effect that involves the rest of the spheres and puts you in motion again.
In any case, remember that feeling stuck is just one period, like many others in life. Sometimes we don’t go at cruising speed. Sometimes we need to stop or even go around in circles. There is nothing wrong in it. The feeling that we are always moving forward is just an illusion and creates unnecessary pressure. It is possible that this paralysis is only external because within you are taking place the necessary changes to take the next leap in life.