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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: Stuck and Unstuck: Starting Points

Monday, August 4, 2008

Stuck and Unstuck: Starting Points

"It doesnt matter how long we may have been stuck in a sense of our limitations. If we go into a darkened room and turn on the light, it does not matter if the room has been dark for a day, a week or ten thousand years. We turn on the light and the room is illuminated" Sharon Salzberg

Stuckness means that you have not yet understood well enough what it is that keeps you from moving forward. Perhaps it has not been talked about deeply, not everything has been said, or said enough.

I have always believed that our stuckness is there for a good reason. Often people tell me that they want to move forward, to feel better, to get out of the problem and into the solution, but that there is something in the way. They don't know what.

Sometimes it helps to unpack the possibilities. In therapy speak, to figure out the "secondary gain," of whats keeping you from doing what it takes to do what it takes. I often recommend making a "guess list". Talk it out with someone safe, or write it out. What do you get from not moving forward? Why are those things important? What are the possible next right things to a therapist?, say more to the one you have?, go to a 12 Step meeting?, write a letter?, research information? etc.... and then guess at what might be in the way of doing those things...fear of failure, fear of people, fear of change, fear of being disappointed, (lots of times its fear of something, more on this in future posts).

Sometimes its anger. We want someone else to change, or we think that if we make the move it will be admitting defeat, or fault.

Or that if we move away from the problem then we will be nothing without it. We will have to face some kind of emptiness, void or loss. What will replace it? Who would we be without it?

How much in a hurry are you? Can you study things for a bit? Or is it urgent? What if it takes some time? Often there is someone else in picture who is pushing (or shoving), demanding a solution faster than one can happen. I find this a lot when I work with teenagers and young women. Parents want it fixed now, yesterday. No one wants to suffer or see someone they love suffering. But forcing action is not always the way to go, sometimes a gentler approach yields a better outcome.

We need to be ready to be unstuck. And to grace and study the stuckness. The movement will come when its time. And light will be light, no matter how long it was dark.

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