Feeling stuck comes from the desire to move forward from one phase of life to another but (for what ever reason) not being able to do so. The perceived reason could be any number of things including fear, other people or situations. Regardless of the reason, it is my contention that dealing with the feeling of being stuck has to be a subjective process with subjective solutions. In other words no one else and no situation can make you feel stuck without your consent. Certainly some situations are more extreme; an abusive spouse or incarceration for example. But even in these examples it is possible to deal with the feeling of being stuck internally. Here are ten methods:
- Take Action – In many ways the feeling of being stuck comes from the inability to take action. As such, taking action by pushing up against your comfort zone fights against or acts to disprove that this inability is in fact a reality. Depending on what you think your reason is for being stuck, take action to counteract this reason. If (for example) you feel that unemployment is the reason for being stuck take action and look for a job. You need to put yourself out there and address whatever your fear may be and by doing so you will cultivate courage and strength. Other forms of taking action might be cleaning your house. I find getting a haircut shifts my feeling of being stuck for some reason. Creating a check list of things to do can be helpful when feeling stuck because it takes the initiative off of yourself and puts it on the list. This at least is a good temporary solution. Ideally you want to act under your own volition.
- Cultivate Spirituality – Spirituality means many things to different people. At its core it addresses humanity’s belief or longing for there to be something more to existence than material reality. Feeling stuck is very much a feeling rooted in the material world. As such cultivating spirituality is a means of rising above this feeling. This can be done in many ways and here are a few: (a) Meditation – sit still for ten minutes, be quiet and focus on your breathing. When you find your mind wandering bring your attention non judgmentally back to your breathing. It works. I don’t know why. (b) Prayer – directly address the divine honestly with your whole heart. List the things for which you are grateful. Ask for help. (c) If you have the opportunity I highly recommend going on a retreat for a structured spiritual experience. (d) Simply try to be aware and recognize that inner voice who whispers the negativity in your ear and reinforces this feeling of being stuck. When you recognize it, name it so that you diminish it and separate yourself from it.
- Move – Remove yourself from your present situation and negative people. This may be difficult because the reason you feel stuck might be because you feel you cannot move. I have found that moving from one location to another always brings about a feeling of renewal initially. However, be careful you don’t just take your baggage from one place to another. If you find yourself repeating negative patterns after the newness of a move wears off then therapy is probably a better option. If you cannot move at the very least get out of the house and go to the movies or simply take a walk until your mood shifts.
- Therapy – Caveat Emptor: There are good therapists and bad therapists and different types of therapy works better for some people than others. I have found that Gestalt body centered therapy was the most effective therapy I ever experienced to address the feelings of shame that had kept me feeling stuck for so long.
- Wait it out – All things change; especially moods. The feeling of being stuck feels like it will never end but it will. Simply knowing this can be helpful to combat hopelessness. While you are waiting you can focus on any other item on this list.
- Read – There are many helpful advice type books out there. The simple action of reaching out for one of these is therapeutic because when you do this you are taking action. In terms of content, I highly recommend Choose Yourself and The Rich Employee by James Altucher. Both have been very helpful for me.
- Exercise – It is important to exercise, eat well and sleep well when you are feeling stuck because these actions increase your energy and ability to shift from being stuck to being unstuck. By contrast, avoid or restrict alcohol and pornography as these things tend to have the opposite effect.
- Write – I have found writing about my experiences has given me the ability to see them more clearly. Blog, keep a journal or write a book and self publish it. I have self published twice and both the experience of writing and the experience of actually publishing were both therapeutic. Self Promotion: My books are Shame and Internet Trolling (non fiction) and The Book of Bud (a $.99 novel) are both available on Amazon.
- Establish Boundaries – If your feeling of being stuck is associated with another person you need to establish boundaries with this person. This means saying “no” when you don’t want to do something this other person wants you to do. You must say “no” even if it feels bad. It will feel bad at first because you will feel like you are doing something wrong. But what you will also feel soon after is a lightening of your mood. Any prior resentment you had for this person will begin to evaporate. It is quite dramatic and unexpected how powerful this technique is.
- Stop Judging – You might equate judgment and morality but this is a false association. When you judge other people you judge yourself with equal intensity. That is because both forms of judgment come from the same place: a wounded ego. When you make the conscious effort not to judge other people the force of the wounded ego weakens. You will find that you will stop judging yourself as well and from this place you can begin to cultivate compassion both for yourself and other people.
I have recently committed myself to following James Altucher’s Daily Practice
. One aspect of the Daily Practice as Altucher describes it is to write down ten ideas a day. The idea behind this mental practice is that when I “exercise my idea muscle” (to coin a term employed by Altucher) I become better at generating ideas. Altucher opines that being able to come up with good ideas is a key to success. If you have not already I highly recommend listening to Altucher’s podcast
or reading his book “Choose Yourself
” where he discusses this concept in greater detail.
When I sit down to write my ten ideas I find that with any given topic six ideas come to me relatively easily but the last four require effort. It is at this moment that the brain begins to sweat (to coin another term employed by Altucher). When the brain sweats I imagine this is the point at which it is developing new neural pathways. I further imagine that these new neural pathways in turn allow the brain to become more receptive to ideas.
As far as I can tell the ideas themselves seem to generate spontaneously. This gives rise to the question where do ideas come from. It seems reasonable that much of idea generation comes from memories that are linked to present experience and trains of thought. But there definitely appears to be a large chunk of ideas that are truly inspired. These truly inspired ideas are generated either internally from some subconscious location or externally from some source of which I am not aware.
My true self (as opposed to my ego) seems to play a role. As far as I can tell my true self is generally capable of two actions; observation and intention. It is intention that seems to play a role in the actual generation of ideas. That is, my true self can intend to be more receptive to ideas. I imagine that this intent through neuroplasticity alters the neural pathways such that the brain becomes more receptive to idea generation. Wherever the ideas come from, intending to be more receptive to ideas seems to allow the ideas to arrive into consciousness with greater efficiency.
I suppose it is possible that ideas come from my true self in such a way that escapes the awareness of my conscious mind. But the ideas seem to appear out of no where. Despite this, I seem to want to take credit for the ideas I generate. I think this applies to most people as there is a whole field of law (intellectual property) developed to protect people’s right to possess the ideas they come up with. Perhaps what people are actually taking credit for is their brains’ receptiveness to idea generation. This is a valuable skill in itself as James Altucher frequently attests.
Where do ideas actually come from? This question seeks to define one of those things where I don’t know how it works but it really doesn’t matter because I can get it to work without knowing how it works. I suppose I should affix a label on that concept.
In 2013 I read a book by James Altucher entitled Choose Yourself. I had been a regular reader of his articles and books and at the time I was going through a major life transition on all levels. I had lost my job and moved in with my parents in 2009. I was able to find part-time work but was not making enough to move out. I was desperately depressed, my marriage was on the rocks and my life seemed stuck. There were many things that helped me to ultimately turn my life around but one of them was James Altucher’s book. One of the things he talked about that really stuck with me was the idea that the 9 to 5 corporate cubicle jobs that disappeared in the recession of 2008 were not coming back and the ones that remained would probably disappear eventually as well. The only way to survive ultimately is to become an entrepreneur — to choose yourself.
Somewhere in his book he also mentioned that he was interested in what motivated internet trolls. Knowing a thing or two on the subject I sent him a long email explaining my experiences and what I thought were my motivations when I trolled. To my surprise he responded pretty quickly and asked if he could use what I wrote for an article. I agreed.
After his article was published (thinking along the entrepreneurial lines he espoused in his book) I asked if he was interested in collaborating on a book about trolling. Graciously he encouraged me to write what ultimately became the book I recently published entitled Shame and Internet Trolling. He told me to make it personal and embarrassing and said he would connect me with an editor when I finished.
For a year I woke up at 5:00am gathering old blog posts relevent to the subject and writing new ones all of which are available on this blog. I then consolidated and edited all this information into a first draft manuscript. When I started this project my marriage was failing and I worked from home out of my parents’ basement in Connecticut. By the time I finished my marriage was great and had moved to North Carolina. The process of writing the book was incredibly therapeutic for me.
I approached James and told him I was finished with the manuscript. He introduced me to a person named Zach Obront who works with people who publish ebooks. For about $2, 500 he offered to edit and help publish and market my work. I agreed thinking at the very least this would be a learning opportunity on the process. He then assigned an editor to read my manuscript. Based on the editor’s really helpful comments I spent another couple of months rewriting and editing. Having an editor read and comment on my writing was definitely a crucial part of the process. Finally I had a finished product.
Zach suggested I use 99 Designs to set up a competition to design the cover artwork. It cost around $250 and took a few weeks to fully play out. Using their service I set up a contest where artists submitted book covers which I rated and gave feedback to. Then there was a final round where the best contributors competed for the final design. In the end I selected a winner who received a cash prize. Once the cover art was completed Zach suggested I use Bookbaby to digitally convert my manuscript into an e-book and then distribute it to Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other outlets. This also cost about $300. I would definitely recommend both of these services.
Once the book was distributed Zach provided a list of blogs, podcasts and other media outlets I could approach to market my book as a guest writer. This, I found to be the least helpful part. Most of the outlets he mentioned specifically did not want their guest writers marketing their books and many of them were not really on point with the subject of my book. So if I had to do it over I would have skipped the marketing aspect and would have saved myself about $1000. Probably books on more marketable subjects would benefit more from the research Zach and his people provided.
So that’s my experience of writing and publishing my e-book. I am still in the marketing phase so I will probably have more to say on that subject as I figure out what I am doing.