Five years ago today, I wrote an article for Elephant Journal called “Why Being Stuck Isn’t Always a Bad Thing.”
It was so interesting to read it again recently in preparation for this reflection. The last time I’d read my words was a couple of years ago, so I didn’t remember all the details of my former lessons.
When I wrote it in August 2013, I had been separated from my husband of 18 years for several months, and was going through the process of figuring out what my life might look like without him.
I was feeling stuck in so many ways at that time. In my relationship. In my yoga practice. In my job. It was painful, and I wanted nothing more than for it to all be “figured out” so I could move on with my life.
As a person who is goal driven and has tendencies toward perfectionism, not being able to figure out what my life should look like going forward was unacceptable. I wanted to rush the process. And like so many people accustomed to the American norm of a quick fix, it’s easy to get caught up in rushing the process in our results-oriented, McDonald’s in a minute, want-it-now world.
“Life is short. At some level we all know that, and so we rush to complete all we think we must do in order to live a life of no regrets. We get swept up in our accomplishing, doing and achieving so completely that we miss out on the natural order of unfolding, resulting in anguish and tremendous imbalance. In our impatience, we create the very scenario that we hoped to avoid.” ~ Baron Baptiste, 40 Days to a Personal Revolution (Law of Transformation #9: Don’t Rush the Process)
Looking back over the last five years, it’s been a constant practice in patience and being at times stuck, then unstuck, and trying not to rush the process either way. Yoga and meditation are great teachers of these concepts, but so are other things.
Opportunities to practice patience and acceptance come literally every day, outside of awareness practices, but only if we’re paying attention. Relationships, children, and jobs are a few great examples of opportunities for growth.
Today, I am still stuck in a few things, but other “stuckness” in my life has shifted and turned into growth. And I’m still practicing daily not to rush the process.
Here are the five ways I’ve learned to be “stuck” in ways that don’t suck—and actually contribute to positive change. I hope these lessons can help in areas where you may feel stuck as well.
1. Healthy routine creates space for growth.
Doing the same thing over and over is pretty much the definition of being stuck, hence the popular phrase, “stuck in a rut.” However, it is also the definition of routine, and routines can be extremely healthy, creating a path to lasting change.
For example, one way I was stuck a few years ago was in my asana practice. It was no longer serving me, and had become something I did without too much thought. And the much sought after handstand I mentioned in the first article had become something that was harming by body.
Although healthy in a lot of ways, my asana practice wasn’t working for me in the same way it had in the past. So I replaced it with daily meditative walks instead. This is still a healthy routine, and something I’m even “stuck” in—doing it every day—but one that serves me better. Sometimes this practice allows me to grow by spending time listening to informative content that inspires, helps me learn new things, and changes the way I think. And sometimes it helps me grow by simply being present in meditative motion.
2. Get stuck in key relationships.
In another Elephant Journal article, I talked about ways to identify toxic people in your life. Even more important may be identifying key supportive relationships in your life and then sticking with them in a way that you can support, celebrate, build-up, and truly see each key relationship as critical to your growth.
3. Get stuck on an activity that brings you joy.
Finding one activity that really brings you joy can be life changing. For me, it’s snowboarding. I don’t get to do it as often as I’d like, but having something to look forward to is a powerful motivator. It can get you through the rough days, and when you finally get to do the joyful activity, you find yourself in a true moment of flow and bliss.
The activity doesn’t necessarily need to be something super athletic, require money, or need to be completed daily. It just needs to be something that makes you feel good and in which you feel truly immersed. These moments that allow you to be fully present will then transfer that sense of flow into other areas of your life.
4. Work through your past to get stuck in a new way of being.
Most people are stuck in a way of being that has served them well for most of their lives. We all learn ways to cope and be with people in our lives based on our past experiences. With so much trauma and dysfunction though, the coping skills and ways of being learned as children can actually start to become detrimental as we attempt to change and grow.
It’s important to identify the new way you want to show up in the world and align your behaviors and coping skills to match. Getting stuck in a new way of being that creates more abundance, happiness, fruitful relationships, and growth is a much better place than being stuck in the same old way of doing things.
5. Get stuck on being stuck.
Finally, just like I discovered five years ago, there is nothing wrong with being stuck. This is even more clear to me now. Sometimes you just need to be present in each moment, have patience, and allow things to unfold in their own time. Rushing the process takes us out of being present and into the trap of always doing rather than giving ourselves a chance to be.
As Baptiste says, “Through patience, you can possess your soul. When you catch yourself speeding through life, when you feel you must meet expectations and that so much is being left undone or that you’re not succeeding as quickly as you think you should be, you must remember that real growth doesn’t come from pushing through or breaking out of anything. Rather, it comes through a gentle melting in.”