“Fear is the glue that keeps you stuck. Faith is the solvent that sets you free.”
— Shannon L. Alder, best-selling American author and speaker
Touring the old back roads with our “city” cousins had been a grand adventure until we ended up stuck in the middle of a huge mud hole. The little green Datsun was stuck up to its bumpers. Moreover, the harder the three of us tried to push it out, the more stuck it became. The tires howled, and steam rolled out of the wheel wells. Completely unprepared and without a contingency plan, my brother, two cousins, and I found ourselves dug in deep. Reluctantly, I volunteered to make the two-mile trek for the tractor.
From time-to-time, I think most of us feel stuck, spinning our wheels, unable to gain traction in life or at work. This feeling of being stuck, while disconcerting, can become an impetus leading to personal growth. Although we may initially view this stuck state as a failure or with feelings of inadequacy, it’s a tremendous opportunity to reexamine our beliefs, values and the events or circumstances which prompted their creation.
Typically, our first response to being stuck is to keep on pushing — spinning our wheels and digging ourselves in even deeper. We might realize that the old ways are not working, yet we keep doing the same old things expecting a different outcome.
When we’re finally forced to admit that our old approach is ineffective, we have no option but to accept the reality of the situation. Here’s where choice comes into play. We can choose to remain focused on what we don’t want — the current situation — or decide to view the situation with fresh eyes and look for ways to break the impasse.
We all know people who have remained stuck for years — always struggling with the same issues, perpetually spinning their tires, and going nowhere. What keeps them stuck? Fear of the unknown? Fear of something even worse beyond the mud hole? As strange as it may seem, there can be a level of comfort or predictability in the middle of the mud hole. You may have approached a defining moment in life, but you certainly haven’t reached a dead end unless you allow fear to make the impasse truly impassable.
Getting unstuck requires that you change your approach to problem solving. Don’t worry if you remain stuck for a time while you ponder a new strategy and action steps. Few people have an instant solution to getting out of the mire. That happens over time.
In my experience, the better your self-esteem, the less fear you’ll encounter and the more energy you’ll have to push yourself out of that deep mud hole. Remaining stuck should always be a temporary situation and never a way to post-pone action.
Beyond the current mud hole will be other opportunities to be stuck. The good news is: each experience provides us with insights and strategies to better navigate other mud holes and hazards on the roads of life. Each stuck state is an opportunity to look a little deeper into our life, improve our self-esteem and to discover better options.
“Being stuck is a position few of us like,” wrote Rush Limbaugh, the American political commentator. “We want something new but cannot let go of the old: old ideas, beliefs, habits – even thoughts. We are out of contact with our own genius.”
Feeling stuck, though emotionally distressing, can be the first step to recognizing new opportunities in your life. Think of it as a rite of passage. A transition to the next level of awareness. A prerequisite to growth, change and living life more purposefully.
Murray Fuhrer is a self-esteem expert.