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For When You Feel Stuck

Meeting ourselves right where we are reclaims a sense of agency in our lives, even when so much feels out of our control.

As I’m writing this we’re under Safer at Home orders due to Covid-19. It’s impacting people in so many ways. Some are busier than ever. For some an empty calendar is something new. For others the day-to-day looks much the same as before…even if everything feels different.

There have been days where I’ve gotten almost nothing done. I felt tired and foggy. Bedtime would come and I’d wonder what I’d done with my time. I think I stared at the wall a lot.

There have also been days when I was focused and getting a lot done. I reached the time when I intended to quit for the day…and I just kept working. It felt easier to bury myself in a task than to stop.

While at times it has felt good to accomplish something and at times it has felt good to ease the pressure, mostly I’ve been feeling like something is off. Whether I’m busy or idle, the things that bring me joy and relaxation or excitement and energy still feel out of reach.

We can get stuck in the busyness and the things that distract us just as much as in the motionlessness. We can get stuck in looking on the bright side as much as in focusing on everything that’s wrong.

If you’re feeling stuck, I’m not here to tell you to work harder, do more, or be better. That’s my inner critic’s go-to demand when she’s especially upset. The opposite of being stuck isn’t unceasing productivity.

I’m also not going to tell you to just blow everything off and do whatever feels easiest in the moment. There is value in giving ourselves space and rest. At the same time, the things we default to are not always the things that help us feel better.

I’ve written before about different ways stuckness shows up in our lives—in circumstances , in seasons , and in the day-to-day , and the current situation has me thinking again about what it means. Often we think of stuckness as not getting enough done or not being able to make a decision or being unable to let something go and move on. We tell ourselves that if we could just pull ourselves together and find the motivation or the right answer or get over it, then everything would be fine.

But moving through stuckness isn’t so much about fixing anything or about pushing through and pretending nothing is wrong. What I’m talking about here is more about staying engaged with our lives and not giving up, while also honoring our humanness and current capacity.

As I’ve been trying to navigate my own experience during this time, I remembered the Destuckifying Toolkit I made years ago. It’s a place where I’ve collected helpful reminders, things I know about myself, people to reach out to, things to try, and questions to ask—the tools that help me when I feel stuck.

I like having these tools collected all in one place because when we’re feeling off it can be harder to remember the things we know will help. I have to admit, however, that my Toolkit is due for an update. I’ve learned new tools, met new people, and learned more about myself.

There isn’t a formula for getting unstuck. What works for me might not work for you. What helps in one situation might be different from what works in another. For example, my list of Things to Try includes both set a timer and write until it goes off and turn on music, lie on the floor, and stare at the ceiling.

Staying actively engaged and curious builds our ability to discern when we are best served by pushing through or taking a step back, recommitting or changing course. When we meet ourselves right where we are, we reclaim a sense of agency in our lives, even when so much feels out of our control.

As I’m refreshing my Toolkit, I hope you’ll join me in creating or updating yours. There is a workbook to guide you through creating your own Destuckifying Toolkit in the Self-Trust Library . If you’re already part of the community, there is a link to the library in every email I send you. If not, you can join below.