Moving Past Stuck

Moving Past Stuck

Recovery work is definitely a journey.  And while the traumatic emotions and memory recovery feel awful sometimes, there is nothing worse than feeling stuck.  In this work, “stuck” is a technical term.  It means our defenses are winning the inner battle at the moment.  Why?  We have hit a new threshold in our recovery work.  It might take the form of a new emotion, memory or belief, but it feels too scary to process.  Of course, we don’t consciously know any of this.  If we did, we would take steps to change it.  So we spend far too much time in the phase of “stuck” before we develop awareness of what is going on.

For those who have not embraced trauma recovery, they may spend their entire life in this phase.  But for those of us who have started this journey, feeling stuck can feel extremely uncomfortable.  And it is amazing how good our defenders are at explaining this discomfort away.  They are really, really good at it.  And so we sit in our uncomfortable “stuckness” for much too long.

But we can build our ability to identify that stuck phase.  When our defenses are high and our inner battle is in overdrive, those blocks show up in three ways.

The Body

When we are stuck, our body is not in a good place.  There is no flow.  Not only do we lose the energetic flow, but anything that is supposed to flow can get stuck too.  Our blood gets marred with cholesterol.  Our digestion slows down and gets stuck.  Anything that is supposed to rid the body of toxins stops working like it should.  And our muscles get tense and painful as they block whatever we don’t want to feel and see.  There is nothing like a chronic illness to identify our “stuckness”.

The Emotions

When we are stuck, we are likely only experiencing two emotions: anger and hopelessness.  But we don’t know we are experiencing them.  They are defensive emotions and they show up in defensive ways.  Our anger has a tendency to look like anxiety and panic, although it can show up as explosions of rage or passive aggression.  Our hopelessness looks like depression.  Underneath the anxiety and depression are emotions like grief, shame and fear.  But we cannot access them because our defenses have battened down the hatches.  They are keeping those potentially deadly (in our defenders’ opinions) emotions at bay by blocking them.

The Mind

When we are stuck, the mind is instrumental in blocking our awareness.  Our mind becomes manic, making lists, daydreaming, and inventing every awful scenario that could happen.  Distraction is the tool and it works so well.  Every time we begin to feel, the mind is there to change our focus back to the constant needs of the outside world.  In addition, the mind will hit us with beliefs that make us think nothing needs to be addressed.  Some of the most popular are:

We have done all the recovery work we need to do.

Emotions are dangerous and will keep us from our responsibilities.

Society doesn’t want to see our negativity.  Just stay positive.

But all of these attempts to keep us stuck are very dangerous.  The longer we stay stuck, the more damage we do to our minds, bodies and external lives as we repeat our patterns from the past.  When we are moving forward in recovery, we are moving forward in life (even when it doesn’t seem like it).

So what can you do to move out of the “stuck” phase?  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Engage in a form of body work that gets things flowing. This could be anything from yoga to running to Reiki to massage.  When we engage the body in the process of healing, amazing progress can happen.
  2. Let your inner parts express from the emotions you are feeling. Start with the anxiety and depression and let the unconscious message behind them come forward.  As you write from them, they will start to shift to the emotions behind the emotions.  Write from them too.
  3. Pay attention to what your mind is doing. Start to take control of what your thoughts are telling you.  Question the beliefs that don’t seem right.  They come from childhood.  Explore how your mind keeps you distracted.  Start practicing thought management through awareness and meditation.  Even if you can stay with it for 30 seconds, you are making major progress.  You will improve over time if you persist.
  4. Bring in a helper who can see where you might be stuck. Sometimes our blind spot will be more obvious to another person.  Get help even when your inner parts are telling you not to trust anyone.

If you are stuck, take some steps to get yourself unstuck.  With small but consistent changes, you can take charge of your recovery and progress in ways you had not thought possible.  With the right awareness, you can move yourself past stuck and into living.

Stepping Up:

3 Steps to Overcoming the Awareness Challenge

 Sign up to receive updates from the

blog and get my FREE eBOOK. 

Begin taking steps today!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

22 Comments

  1. Thank you. I am not alone.

    Reply
  2. Thankyou, I needed that x

    Reply
  3. Elizabeth, how can I learn to trust in life, to lean into the flow of life, when at my most vulnerable I felt deserted and abandoned by God, universe. How do I negotiate with my protector that life is safe, safe to give up control, safe to trust, safe to believe when the evidence as a young child shows there was no one to protect me. Even the good is a threat to me, creates anxiety, panic, distrust.

    Reply
    • This is something that will not happen quickly or based on a decision. Re-wiring our brains for trust requires us to start by hearing out our inner parts, listening to their painful memories, letting them express their emotions. Over time, this relationship with your inner parts will become more trusting leading to more trust in the outside world. It cannot be done cognitively. It happens by going inward.

      Reply
      • I have found that Adult Children of Alcoholic/Dysfunctional literature and support groups to be very helpful and very healing! I have also found myself allowing myself to listen to that little girl inside of me that was so traumatized…thank the Creator that I was led to a pastoral counselor that “gets it”, I am cautious of those folks that think that they are okay and do not have an inkling of the wounded child and recovery work…they are the ones that can create wounds and it is rather stealth in the way it happens…

        Reply
        • It is good to be cautious about those folks. I am so glad you have found what is working for you.

          Reply
  4. Wowza spot on!!

    Reply
  5. Thank you so much Elizabeth for sharing this.
    ‘It’s an inside job, and change takes time, with a lot of smaller steps’ is the message I got, and it resonates a lot. Going through so many changes right now to have my own business that I feel disheartened. Only through daily mindfulness of emotions techniques and listening to empowering clips/audio do I feel a bit better. Still it’s sooo much tougher than I thought and I’m moving from a place of action to another extreme of apathy, overwhelmingness and sometimes hopelessness.

    Reply
    • I know from personal experience how hard it is to run your own business and recover from trauma. The hopelessness has been one of the toughest blocks for me because almost any setback can trigger it. When you feel hopeless, try to write from it. It is really hard because you are hearing there is no point to anything (and that includes writing), but push to do it. It will help so much. Sending my love and light to you.

      Reply
  6. I’ve been struggling with getting stuck and how I become stalled in my recovery process. One consequence I had become aware of is that I start to feel frustration and inside my head my old thought patterns overtake my new rewiring, snipping away and fusing them out – I hear my abusers voice telling me I’m useless and how there’s no point trying to ever get away. The tenderness towards myself, that I am beginning to find, turns into hopelessness and I think there’s no point trying to recover, it’s too hard and won’t ever work. As much as I’ve been trying to reassure myself that this is only one part of me talking, at these times I didn’t realise the other emotions that were there or the other related physical and mental processes happening. Your post has given me plenty to consider about this and some practical things to try. Thank you.

    Reply
    • I completely understand this Bee. This is exactly what happens to me too. Try out some of these steps. With hopelessness, I find the writing to be the best way to work with it. Love to you.

      Reply
  7. Have you ever done Emdr for your trauma & getting in touch with your child parts? If so did you find it helpful?

    Reply
    • I have used it (although only a few times). I see that as another useful form of body work. I think it is important to combine EMDR with talk therapy or other cognitive work, so you can process what comes up, but EMDR is a good technique.

      Reply
  8. I wonder if I was “stuck” this week. Out of nowhere, I felt uncomfortable. My husband and I were talking, I asked him a question, and then I began to feel so off, like I was crawling inside my skin. I withdrew, I would barely talk to my husband or son, and I slept and waited for the feeling to go away. It was awful. Today I finally felt better. I’m worried that my husband felt just as lost as I was because I couldn’t explain anything to him. He’s so relieved that I am better.

    Reply
    • That sounds like you were feeling some emotions, possibly some shame. With emotions moving like that, it sounds like you were not stuck. Love to you.

      Reply
  9. Elizabeth this is spot on, thank you. I have been wanting to get more familiar with your blog and understand your concept of parts. I am in an IOP right now trying to get a handle on all these emotions from childhood trauma.

    Reply
    • I highly recommend and inner parts approach to healing. It is the most compassionate perspective we can take to ourselves. If you ever want to have a free call with me to discuss it and my guidance program, message me.

      Reply
  10. I have been stuck all my life. This summer, while off from teaching, everything caved in on me. I can’t move, my autoimmune disease flared up so bad, I’m depressed, I cry all day, and I have lost contact with everyone. I go back to work next week and worried that I won’t do my job well. I don’t know how to overcome this. I’ve suffered all my life, 58 years, and still haven’t figured it out. The hopelessness is overwhelming. I’m waiting for your ebook and hoping for some insight.

    Reply
    • Hi Donna, I am so sorry you are struggling with all of this. It is amazing how our past trauma can come up and bite us all of a sudden like that. It happens to so many of us. I will email you about the book. If you purchased it, it should have come within an hour.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stepping Up:

3 Steps to Overcoming the Awareness Challenge

 Sign up to receive updates from the

blog and get my FREE eBOOK. 

Begin taking steps today!

You have Successfully Subscribed!