We all experience times when we feel in a rut and need to re-evaluate our lives to make better choices for ourselves. But all too often, obstacles get in the way from being able to ‘move forward’ and we end up feeling ‘stuck’.
Dr. Kerry Petsinger looked at people’s careers and personal lives and found that ‘69% of people feel trapped in the same routines and 7 out of 10 people are unhappy with their lives’. Her perspective is that people tend to work towards goals that ‘do not align with them’, leading to regrets and unfulfilled dreams. This, she states is a lot to do with not following our true desires and emphasises the importance of ‘knowing who you are’.
Feelings of discontent about our lives have adverse effects on our relationships, our personal lives, our energy levels and self- care. Evaluating our lives and being intentional, by asking ourselves questions and getting to know our values and strengths, desires, dreams, takes us out of autopilot and puts us in the driver’s seat towards finding the right path for ourselves.
It makes sense to spend time re-evaluating and knowing ourselves, but for some people, they can be overcome by strong emotions that keep them stuck. Self-doubt, insecurities, fear of making mistakes, feeling flawed, a failure, feeling overstimulated and unable to slow down are examples of life long effects of feelings and perceptions that could be due to toxic shame.
Toxic shame, according to John Amadeo PH.D, is a painful emotion and to cope with the pain, we learn to steer our attention away from it. It can be destructive and has various effects on our lives, such as becoming defensive, perfectionist, over-apologetic or a procrastinator. These hidden reactions are often unconscious, can be found in negative self-talk, core beliefs and perceptions that keep us feeling stuck and helpless. Shame can affect our relationships as we transfer these strong feelings onto others by being defensive.
There are many and varied modalities that the counsellor uses to assist the individual to learn to manage the shame and assist the individual towards becoming unstuck, make better choices in life and follow our true nature. These include: mindfulness, parts (for example, the inner critic), gestalt chair work, somatic awareness and help explore who you are– values, desires, dreams, beliefs and more- a journey worth taking…take your first step now!
Amodeo, John, PH.D, ‘If you are stuck, this may be why’ in www.psychologytoday.com October, 2016
Petsinger, Kerry, Dr. ‘Feeling stuck in Life? How to never get stuck again’ www.lifehack.org March, 2019