September 6, 2014

How To Kick ‘Stuck’ In The Nuts.

squirrel nuts

Look out: f-bombs below! 

We all go through it—or rather get mired in it—that feeling of having nowhere to run to or walk to or even side shuffle to.

We’re stuck in the muck.

(Note: If anyone thinks the title is sexist, please feel free to replace “Nuts” with “Box”. #lightenup)

Decisions surround us with endless options and paralyzing “what ifs” and confusing “how tos” and it’s no wonder we work ourselves into a quagmire of doubt, fear and anxious inaction.

Life has a veritable smorgasbord of potential ‘wrong paths’ that can lead to mistakes that can lead to pain, frustration and “shit, this is worse than if I’d stayed home and learned to paint by numbers with my toes”.

When we’ve been stuck in the quicksand of our minds, not knowing—not certain, not sure, not absolutely divinely god descending positive—of which way to turn, all the off-ramp signs are covered in the dust of fear.

Should we stay in a relationship that feels stale and cold?

Should we quit our job and go back to school?

Should we ditch the degree and go into business for ourselves?

Should we become poets or actors or artists or shrinks?

Or should we go back to our old jobs/careers/mates/hometowns?

Shit, should we go to Nepal and hike the Everest Base Camp Trek or the Annapurna Circuit or just skip the hike and hide out in a remote Vipassana meditation retreat… or??


First world problems to be sure, but for those of us who grew up in first world ‘hoods these questions are valid to us. We all want to get to the end of our life and feel like we’ve made the ‘right’ decisions.

One thing I’ve come to believe despite still getting stuck—there are no wrong decisions. Right and wrong are highly subjective. My personal belief is to do no harm. Sometimes, this means choosing between the lesser of two evils. To me consciousness counts toward making up for the sometimes inherent ‘bad doings’ we sometimes must choose. (The American Civil War comes to mind. I’m opposed to war but more opposed to slavery.)

With that in mind the kindest choices we can make are the ones that will make us happiest. Happy joyful people project happy joyful energy. We cannot make choices that are selfish and harmful (to ourselves or others) and truly feel good way down deep in the crevices of our being.

Our bodies know. We know.

To be projectors of positivity in the world–to make the world a better place and make our inner world a better peace–we must ditch bitterness and follow our bliss.

And this can be where we get stuck.

Because of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of uncertainty, fear of inevitable failure and pain.

But what if inevitable pain wasn’t the case? What if that is just a head case clause we’ve carried too long and clung to unnecessarily?

What if the only certainty of moving forward in making a scary decision is inevitable joy?

There’s one thing we can all do right this moment to get unstuck. But before we get to that, first a few thoughts on the difference between how people think who stay stuck and of those who move through life as if coated in lube and on a slick luge…

Author’s summation from the book, If The Buddha Got Stuck, by Charlotte Castle:

Stuck Suckers:

  • Feel helpless and powerless and mask it with inertia.
  • Tend to lean on negativity and have a ready bag of excuses and victim-me stories.
  • Often live in chaotic busyness on the verge of disaster.
  • Handle stress in unhealthy ways–addictions, OCD, overanalyzing. <sideways glance>
  • Lack intimate connections and support (we’re not talking sex and a good brassiere. In fact, non-intimate sex may fall in the unhealthy habits category).
  • Think external sources buy happiness (fame, fortune, Salvatore Ferragamo shoes).
  • Lack self-care and healthy boundaries.
  • Attach self-worth to beliefs and what others think.
  • Repeat the same behaviours thinking results will differ (#craycray)
  • Focus on being overwhelmed or on how crappy the world is.

Unstuck Slickers:

  • Focus in positive possibilities and take action.
  • Don’t believe in “like it or lump it”. Nope, they move out of stressful and/or shitty situations. They just find a way, baby!
  • Reach out to family and friends when in need, and reciprocate.
  • Don’t equate success or failure to their identity. They learn and keeping on keeping on.
  • Are willing to fall on their faces and look like a fool to try something new.
  • Have a comfort zone like the rest of us, but are willing to step out of it.
  • Laugh at themselves (and others) easily in a not-a-meanie kind of way. They understand that we all have “flaws”. (That makes us interesting!)
  • Do no harm. They know they can shine and their light illuminates others as well. They don’t just get the “loving-kindness” thing, they live it.

I know, right! Who wouldn’t want to go from shitty Sucker to stellar Slicker? I do. Will. Am!

The How?

One step at a time starting with awareness. When we catch ourselves in a negativity noose–stop! But don’t tuck and drop, there’s still a rope attached. Instead, thoughtlessness (meditation) followed by thoughtful pondering–as opposed to obsessive over-analyzing–will help reboot the mental battery.

And then… do something. <big deep breath—or five or 50>

The one thing that will propel us from stuck in the muck to positive forward motion is taking action. It doesn’t have to be a major decision. Baby steps are all we need do if that’s as much as we can muster.

Sometimes, to get over the fear of doing something scary I work my way through the list of “what ifs” and “so whats” of worst case possible outcomes.


What if I quit my lucrative career to become a writer and I fail? Well, I’ll be embarrassed, ne, humiliated. So what? Um, people will look at me funny? (They do.) So what? I’ll have no friends.

So what?

I ask myself questions until I get to the ultimate—I’ll be poor, homeless and living under the Santa Monica Pier. I might even die. So f’ing what?

We all die. Some of us are dying the whole time we’re living.

Seriously. When we know we can handle the whatevers of life, even death, then taking part in life becomes a hellova lot easier. And you know what? We can handle it, all of it.

So making even one definitive decision in a new direction (not to be confused with nude erection) and–this is key–taking action in support of that decision, in and of itself empowers us and gives us the confidence to know that we can survive the outcome. And the more decisions we make the better we get at making them and the less scary they become.

We can get out of our ruts with sheer guts.

So fuck “stuck”!


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Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Patti Hobbs at Pixoto 


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