Feeling Stuck in Life? How to Find a Way Forward, 1
Feeling stuck in life is an extremely common experience. It can happen at any stage of our life journey.
Nonetheless, the feeling of stuckness often assails us in those parts of our journey when we are either trying to make, or else are needing to make, major life transitions.
What Does Feeling Stuck in Life Mean?
People use this expression a lot in my consulting office. What do they actually mean by it?
The life experience of individuals is very diverse, but I think that this feeling boils down to the sense that things in the life of the individual are not giving him or her much (or any) satisfaction. In other words, that the life expereience of the person is not meaningful, either in whole or in part, and, most importantly, that the individual doesn’t know how to move things to a place where what they encounter in their daily living would be meaningful.
When talking about feeling stuck in life, the discussion sometimes revolves around the idea that “the individual is not making ‘progress’.” However, I’m not sure that the idea that the goal of human life is to make some kind of triumphant “progress” is really all that helpful, here.
Rather, I find it far more helpful to think about this issue of stuckness in terms of the “flow” of our energy out into our lives, for connectedness, meaning and creativity. Ultimately, in Jungian terms, the flow of that energy should take us more and more towards individuation, the process of becoming more and more our unique, authentic selves.
We Get “Stuck” in Unique Ways
There is no set formula as to who will get “stuck”, or how such an impasse might come about in someone’s life. As Harvard psychologist Timothy Butler tells us, the experience of “feeling stuck” enters our lives in a great variety of unique ways. Career issues, relationship issues, death of a parent or other loved one, transition of children away from home — all of these types of events, and many more, can lead into the sense that the whole pattern of a life feels stale and not very meaningful.
The key element of this sense of stuckness? That our image of our lives and of our personal world is no longer working. As Jung might put it, it is a time in life when we may well need a new personal myth — the underlying “big story” we tell ourselves about our lives and our place in the world.
Impasse Means We Need to Change Our Fundamental Attitude
What can you do to get a sense of “flow” back, when you’re feeling stuck in life? Should you seek counselling or therapy?
Therapy like /a-midlife-transition of the Jungian variety may assist greatly in dealing with the large emotional and life issues that may surround feeling stuck in life. It may also assist in the uncovering of a “personal myth”, or deep life story or self-understanding, that can help move us back into the flow of our lives.
Finding the flow of the creative energy in our lives is the most important issue in dealing with feeling stuck in life, and, in the second part of this post, we’ll be looking at some of the ways this can start to occur.
Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst