- Jason McCarty
Last week I wrote about change and how we need to take action in order to change. Sometimes change is also in how we see the world, think about ourselves, treat ourselves mentally and emotionally, and other internal psychological aspects to who we are.
Whether we are trying to change something where we can take action, or trying to change how we think, we can sometimes just get stuck. Everything we try doesn’t work. This is when we usually seek help. What happens when things still don’t change when we seek help? What if we are just stuck and it doesn’t seem like anything is helping?
Feeling stuck doesn’t feel very good. Feeling that everything we are doing is not contributing to forward movement can be debilitating and depressing. Who wants to feel like they are stuck in quick sand? Not me.
So what happens when we feel that stuck, when nothing seems to work, even help? You know what? I don’t know. You know what else? Nobody knows. I would say you, your therapist, your friend, your pastor, your parent, even yourself, does not know what is going to be the thing to help you break free. It could be possible that you are still only seeing yourself as stuck. Maybe you want to be stuck because it feels safer than freedom. But in many ways, we just might not know. I bet you didn’t expect that to be my deep and profound answer to stuckness did you? I don’t know. I think I as a therapist and other helpers need to be more honest about not knowing. I don’t know is not always something you hear when you go ask for help.
Now the question becomes, can I live with not knowing what to do? Can I live with my stuckness in this moment? I guess a part of stuckness is not wanting be stuck. It sort of perpetuates it. I’m not sure if accepting the stuckness is a way of letting go to answers but it might be. I do know that sometimes just accepting where we are is not acceptable. We do need to accept reality before we can do anything about it, but also just hearing that you need to accept something that is bringing you pain is insulting.
When I was explaining a couple weeks ago how control can make things worse when it comes to anxiety, the same kind of idea can be helpful here with feeling stuck. It can be like those Chinese finger traps – the more you try and pull yourself out with mere physical strength, the more stuck you become, but the more you push in the tension releases. So do we need to push further into our stuckness? Are you serious? That’s the last place we want to go right? Who wants a greater dose of pain and confusion? It’s not necessarily that the pain and confusion exist, but how we fight and struggle with it.
So not “pulling our fingers out” as hard as we can is one way of viewing and approaching our stuckness, but in many ways it is a mystery. Ultimately, I don’t know. Ultimately, you don’t know until you know. Can I live with that? Can you live with that? I’m not talking about giving up here and calling it quits on growing or changing, just stopping all attempts to fix, standing there in curiosity and acceptance, saying, “I don’t know what to do and that’s okay.”