People often ask me what to do when they feel stuck in their old patterns. When stuckness arises, it may seem like a barrier to transformation. Some therapists or coaches may even tell you that, “If you want to transform, you need to leave this part of you out of the room,” or “Holding onto this pattern is sabotaging your growth and healing.” Although these practitioners clearly want something good for you, vanquishing any part of you can evoke shame and hopelessness, and ultimately contributes to your being stuck. What’s important to remember is that the feeling of being stuck is an essential entry point to your healing when met with loving compassion.
The path of transformation is an unknown journey, and although you may have some excitement and motivation, it is common and natural to also have ambivalence and fear. If you consider that your patterns developed as a means to keep you safe and protected when your environment in childhood failed to do so, it makes complete sense that you would hold onto antiquated patterns and thoughts. Even when you want to change and you can see that these habits are keeping you in pain and suffering, the comfort of the familiar can supersede any desire to discover a new way.
5 Reasons Why You Get Stuck:
1) You identify with their ego: When you identify with your ego, you believe that who you are exists in your mind. You believe your thoughts hold reality, and that your impulses are an expression of the truth of who you are. The ego is not the part of you that wants to transform. The ego want you to stay the same so that it maintains control of your inner world. When you are stuck, your ego is likely trying to control you and control life in an attempt to keep you safe.
2) You are scared: Fear is a natural expression of unresolved trauma, and it can make it’s way into your ego and personality in sneaky ways. By following the impulses of the mind, you are attempting to find a way to soothe your system. For example, a person who is a perfectionist is trying to create a sense of safety in the world by doing things perfectly. All of the fight/flight/freeze/fawn/fix trauma responses can be found in the ego identity expression. Ignoring the underlying fear beneath your thoughts can have you feel stuck no matter how hard you try to get unstuck.
3) You are trying to make an aspect of yourself go away: The paradox of change tells us that the more you resist something, the more it will stay the same. Resisting any aspect of yourself keeps you stuck. If your mind resists any aspect of your inner experience, the voice of resistance needs to be welcomed, otherwise it will keep you stuck.
4) You are holding their breath: Breath is necessary to mobilize old energy and create more inner-spaciousness. The breath is the only part of the autonomic nervous system that you have conscious control over, and it is the key to moving areas of stuckness. To call in conscious breath without resisting any part of the stuckness is key.
5) You like being stuck: If you are stuck, there is some aspect of your inner psychology that wants you to stay the same. Looking into the shadow, you may discover that there is a part of you that enjoys feeling pain or likes being a certain way. Acknowledging this is liberating.
Holding onto old patterns and misbeliefs offers a false sense of safety and security until you are ready to discover a new way. Resisting stuckness only gives it more power and rigidity. When you find a therapist or coach who welcomes you exactly as you are, there is more spaciousness and room to learn from any barriers to health and well-being. When you can discover why stuckness is present, you can then discover what it needs from you.
5 Ways to Move Stuckness
1) Welcome the stuckness: Whether you are self-healing on your own or with a therapist or coach, invite in more awareness and love and compassion to the experience of being stuck. If you notice your mind clinging to your pain, welcome the impulse to cling. Be present with every layer of your experience in a welcoming and loving way.
2) Validate the stuckness: Validate the feeling of being stuck, clinging to the pattern, and/or resisting it by saying to yourslef, “It makes sense to you that they are holding onto this aspect of yourself.” With your breath and awareness, wrap the stuck energy with more and more awake awareness–that part of you that is already free.
3) See your own wholeness: When you are identified with a painful pattern, believing that you are your pain, you are asleep to your True Self. Seeing your that stuckness is part of your wholeness, you can remember that you are not broken and you are not stuck. Hopefully, you feel seen in your wholeness in every moment you are with your therapist or coach if you have one. Remember that this pattern is not who you really are, but simply part of your human that you get to heal and love.
4) Be stuck consciously: If you’re going to be stuck, bring as much awareness and consciousness to the stuck energy or thought that you are able. Remember, you can cling to your patterns and stay stuck for as long as you want. This is your journey, and you do not need to rush your healing. If you are going to be stuck, be stuck by choice. Choosing stuckness makes it so you can choose something else in a different moment.
5) Give stuckness a voice: If stuckness had a voice, what would say? Learn from stuckness and hear it’s reason for being here. Either with words or a tone (vibrational quality), let the voice support the mobilization of the stuck energy, and then attune to the movement.
There is no “right” way to be you, and there is no “right” way to heal.