How To Get Unstuck: Overcoming Pills, Pain, and Personal DoubtsMay 26, 2022
Do you enjoy feeling trapped? How about stuck? What about merely stalled or stationary? I’m going to guess that none of the above scenarios sounds particularly appealing to you, but let’s take a moment to examine the implications of each of those terms specifically. Let’s explore why, exactly, the words trapped, stuck, stalled, and even stationary are so powerfully negative for us. And why one of them is especially inaccurate when used to describe our circumstances.
Stationary: This term represents a total lack of movement; in fact, an actual inability to move. Think of a stationary bike. Even if the bike wanted to ride to the park, by nature it couldn’t. If forward movement is the goal here, there is no solution. Luckily for us humans, we aren’t stationary bikes. So, we can always set our wheels down and get moving, so to speak. We might “feel” stationary for a period of time—as if we can’t take a vacation or move to a new city or change jobs or have some other new experience—and this often happens because we are fatigued or broke or shy or just plain stubborn . . . but, we don’t have to remain forever stationary. Oftentimes stationary is a state of mind. We never have to be forever stationary. We just need to envision the forward movement we desire, believe that it is possible, and take the first little steps.
Stalled: Imagine a stalled car. It technically has the ability to move—unlike the stationary bike, it has the engine and the steering wheel and such—but something is temporary haywire with it, broken, glitched. If a car is stalled, it needs some help to get moving on down the road again. We usually have to call AAA for a jumpstart, or maybe even call a mechanic for a more substantial fix. But, the good news is help is always out there. If we are feeling stalled, we often just need to reach out to someone. We can always make a call when we are stalled. Stalled, like stationary, is a temporary state for us, and it is also harmless. Stalled can’t kill us, and we never have to be stalled forever.
Stuck: In this scenario, you usually have the mechanisms needed to move forward—like a car or motorcycle does—and nothing is mechanically wrong with you, either. But some set of circumstances—either external or internal—is keeping you from moving. The good news is, once those circumstances change, we can become unstuck. If we are stuck in traffic, for example (to continue with the car metaphors), eventually the external congestion will clear and we will get moving again. Or, if we are like Michael Douglas in the movie Falling Down, something will snap for us internally and we will just walk out of the car and start beating ourselves a path forward with a baseball bat. We usually find ourselves stuck because we are holding on to our own limiting beliefs, believing garbage talk from others, or not making an effort to break out of our most detrimental ruts. Stuck, like stationary and stalled, doesn’t have to be a forever thing. We just need to affect our environment in a positive way—either internally or externally—and then that will set in motion the mechanisms for becoming unstuck.
Trapped: This surely sounds like the worst of the four scenarios. It implies that your car is marooned on a washed-out bridge, or that you have a gun to your head, or that prison walls surround your bed each night. It implies that a fire is raging on the other side of your front door, and that you’ve broken all of your limbs and can’t reach the phone or any of your windows. If you were actually trapped in life, then solutions might be difficult to come by. Trapped is truly a terrible place to be. But, thankfully, we are never usually trapped. When we say we are “trapped,” it’s kind of like when we say we are “starving.” It usually isn’t true.
Now, when we are feeling depressed, unhealthy, uninspired, self-pitying or especially anxious, which of the above words do we usually use to describe our situation. Maybe we say we’re feeling stuck or stalled (maybe even say “I’m stationary” or “at a standstill”), but most often we use the direst of the language options! We say, “I’m trapped! There is no solution! There is no remedy! My health can’t ever get better. The bills can never be paid. I can’t ever find happiness. I can’t ever find the peace I desire. My goals will never be reached. There. Is. No. Solution. I’m trapped!”
Well, guess what? Unless we’ve been kidnapped by organized crime soldiers or taken prisoner by red-eyed freedom fighters or pinned to the bottom of the ocean by a gigantic octopus with rippling biceps, we are never truly trapped (and even in those scenarios we might find solutions if we are crafty).
Regarding our day-to-day circumstances, there is always hope for us. There are always solutions.
There are always possibilities.
In fact, at any given moment, there are usually a near infinite number of possibilities available to us. We just have to open our minds, open our hearts, and open our eyes in order to see them.
What has you feeling stuck or stalled or TRAPPED right now? A job you don’t particularly love? Rejection? Depression? Financial matters? Spiritual questions? Some other health issue?
Well guess what? There are solutions to your problems. And by solutions, I mean there is a way—indeed there might be many ways—to make your situation better.
Many times, we feel trapped because people tell us there are no other possibilities available to us. And we believe them. People say we can’t change jobs, we can’t pursue our dreams, we don’t deserve happiness, or we can’t get healthy. And we believe them.
Here’s an example:
My wife has had a history of complex health issues. Dating back to the time she was twelve years old, she’s experienced hospital stays and surgeries, and when we first started dating about twenty-two years ago, a new health issue began manifesting for her, one that we eventually discovered was a pituitary tumor. So, thus began medications, and MRIs, and more surgery, and regular visits to an endocrinologist. One endocrinologist she started seeing for her pituitary issue (a doctor at a well-respected hospital), eventually told my wife that she also had thyroid issues. She put my wife on a medication called Levothyroxine—a medication that sapped energy and seemed to cause depression—and she implied that my wife would never be able to stop the medication. And, when we talked with this doctor about weight gain and low energy levels, etc., the doctor simply said that was the norm for people with thyroid issues. My wife wouldn’t be able to lose the weight she’d gained in the past few years or get in substantially better shape.
The doctor herself had such issues, and she was “speaking from experience.”
In essence, the doctor told my wife, “You’re just kind of trapped beneath your circumstances. Sorry. You might as well just accept your limitations.”
Well, I told my wife that didn’t make any sense. Someone else’s “reality” doesn’t have to be our reality. The doctor, who herself was overweight and didn’t otherwise appear all that healthy, was just putting limiting ideas out there. Ideas that we could either accept or reject. So, together we rejected them. We prayed for better health and we worked toward better health. We found vitamins and supplements that she began taking instead of the Levothyroxine. We began cooking healthier food at home and exercising together. She lost weight. She found more energy.
And in recent times, a few years after she last saw that doctor, she ran eight miles with me on South Beach (in an event called the Raven Run).
There are always options and possibilities.
About a decade ago I myself was out of shape. I was overweight, a bit depressed, often anxious, often confused, and having a hard time seeing a healthier future for myself. I was taking an SSRI medication for anxiety, a benzodiazepine medication for anxiety, as well as three different blood pressure medications. I was out of energy and almost out of optimism. There didn’t seem to be a lot of possibility in my life. My prescription-happy doctor—a gentleman I’ve previously referred to as Dr. Feelgood—would have had me on all of those medications for the rest of my life. High blood pressure is genetic and forever, he would have had me believe. If one antianxiety medication was making me feel bad, I should just take a different one, went the official line from men like him.
Let’s put it this way. Had I relied on the picture of reality that doctor painted for me, I would still be stuck, stalled, stationary, and feeling trapped. But, I began to envision other possibilities.
On my own, I weaned off the Paxil, and then the Xanax, and then the three blood pressure medications. I used a cheap pill cutter and an at-home blood pressure monitor, and, despite suffering a challenging withdrawal when stopping the SSRI and benzo medications, I kept moving forward by the grace of God, with family support, by my own determination, and with a picture of future possibility in my head.
I stopped going to the doctor. I started going to the gym. I stopped smoking cigarettes. I began walking and doing push-ups, and then I became an avid runner. I relied on God throughout it all. There was a lot of pain and sacrifice and determination packed into the years-long scenario described so briefly here—we often must make sacrifices to achieve our goals—but, the bottom line is there are always solutions (even if those solutions are gradual, incremental). We have many possibilities available to us, we just have to dream about them, get determined and creative about them, and start turning a few of them into our new realities.
Now, the above examples of getting “untrapped” are obviously health-related, and not all of our problems and dreams and goals are related to better health. But, the principles of getting untrapped are the same whether we are dealing with fitness situations, professional situations, relationship situations, or problems/goals of another sort. We must first dream of a better reality in order to eventually find that better reality. And we must move forward with faith and determination each day.
Have you ever stopped dreaming? Have you ever stopped seeing possibilities? If you have, that’s okay. I think that we’ve all been stuck in such a state at one time or another, and I think it’s usually because we are:
2. Overwhelmed/Chronically stressed
3. Stuck in noncreative environments (either professionally or personally)
4. Feeling unhealthy/dealing with new health concerns
5. Feeling overly guilty or regretful about something
6. Stuck in a rut of focusing on problems as a first line of thinking most days
7. In a habit of wanting others to tell us what reality is (and oftentimes those “others” are themselves unhealthy, negative, unenlightened, or downright destructive)
8. Feeling rejected
9. Feeling lonely
10. Displaying excessive stubbornness or allowing anger to consume us
So, a few quick suggestions to get unstuck and begin seeing possibilities again are:
1. Reach out to someone and talk. Let them give you ideas. Let them expand your vision of your own situation and suggest possible solutions.
2. Get moving (A) - Exercise three-to-four times a week, or even every day of the week. Think of exercise as a daily medication you must take.
3. Get moving (B) – Take a trip, explore another city or another culture that is unlike the place you find yourself sitting each day.
4. Pray: Put your problems into His hands, and express gratitude for everything in your life that isn’t a problem. Ask God to show you the possibilities that you, for whatever reason, can’t see for yourself right now.
5. Read a lot of books and watch a lot of movies.
6. Get creative. Play an instrument, write a poem or short story, or work on crafts or other projects.
7. Take your worst problem and begin sketching a solution for it, no matter how crazy or painful or gradual that solution seems.
8. Set Goals for the next five years of your life, no matter how crazy or farfetched.
9.Call up a friend or loved one and have yourself a night of fun. Forget about pain, responsibilities, and maybe even self-development for a moment or two. Talk, laugh, love, restore.
10. Believe that your life is supposed to be something special. Truly believe it.
No matter what problems you might be dealing with right now in your personal or professional life, there are always roads that lead away from them and toward a better future. You always have options, there are always solutions, you are never truly alone, there are always possibilities.
If you make it a point to begin dreaming again on a regular basis—to begin envisioning a more fulfilling, healthier, and more exciting future for yourself—and if you then make it a point to take small, consistent steps to reach those dreams, nothing can stop you from finding a better life. Anything is possible.
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