If You’re Feeling Stuck in Life, How Can You Get Free? #2
So, if, as we saw in the last post, feeling stuck in life is something we want to get beyond… why is it so hard to get beyond it? If we’re stuck, what are the sticking points?
From the experience of many people in /a-midlife-transition, there are some key things that we can learn about getting unstuck.
It may sound odd to say it, but sometimes the thing that most keeps us stuck is that we’re clinging to something and we can’t make ourselves let go. This is something that a person might be doing semi-consciously, or unconsciously.
Now, we may get some benefit from “holding on”. For instance, a relationship may not be working for me at all, but I may persist in it, because it would simply be too painful to face the loss of the hopes and dreams I had for the relationship, back when it began. So I may just keep on, enduring, because being stuck feels like a somewhat better alternative.
Or sometimes, we persist in a situation that can’t possibly work for us, and where we can’t be ourselves, because we gain a certain reward for being self sacrificing, or being a martyr. Some learn very early in life, in the family of origin, that this is what is expected of them. To get past this may require a person to see who they really are in a whole different way.
The individual may have to ask him or herself whether it genuinely is better to be stuck with the devil you know than the devil you don’t. Often new possibilities for life and meaning surround us, but it’s a risk to embark on the path towards them. If we don’t open ourselves to them, though, we end up mired in the same old same old, with psychological consequences that may be very dire in the long run. In the end, perhaps it all comes down to the situation in a quotation attributed to Anais Nin:
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Accepting and Understanding What Psyche is Trying to Bring Us
As I mentioned above, a great deal of the issue around stuck-ness and letting go can revolve around the unconscious mind. Today neuroscience is making us powerfully aware of the enormity and importance of the unconscious mind, which researchers like Prof. Jaak Pansepp call the “core human psyche”, but pioneers like C.G. Jung intuited its importance a century ago.
Often, our stuckness can be rooted deeply in the unconscious. What is more, the solutions that we need to get past these dilemmas may well need to emerge from the unconscious mind. To let them emerge and bring their healing influence may take some real trust in our deepest selves. It is very often around this issue of trusting the deepest self, and having compassion for it, that /a-midlife-transition performs its most healing work.
Psychotherapy that is open to the dynamic reality of the deep self requires a profound respect for the instinctual roots of the psyche, and for the wisdom which resides there, which often goes far beyond our capacities for rational problem solving. The two million year old man or woman often knows exactly what he or she is doing.
The Un-Stuck Version of Myself
As the wisdom of the unconscious emerges, there may be some basic truths I have to face.
Often, getting past being stuck involves listening to the rejected and suppressed part of the self: the shadow. The work of /a-midlife-transition is bringing the stranger home, and often the stranger is our own true self.
Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst