Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on May 8, 2019

Feeling So Stuck in Life That You’re About to Give Up? Help is Here!

Feeling So Stuck in Life That You’re About to Give Up? Help is Here!

In my 15 years at Lifehack, I’ve come across many concerns and problems that readers have written to me about, in hopes of finding answers and advice. A common one I receive time and again, is readers asking for help on how to get unstuck in life, or how can they stop feeling stuck.

It’s quite a broad question if you think about it. Unstuck in what aspect of your life? And just how stuck are you?

You may be at a point in life where you’ve reached a wall or crossroad, and you don’t know how to progress forward. You don’t know what your next steps are. A total career change? A promotion with more responsibilities you’re not sure you’re ready to take on? Not ready to get married or to have kids? Not sure if you should carry on with your full time job or become a stay home parent to devote your time fully to the kids?

Or have you found yourself in a situation where you just want to get out of it, but can’t seem to? Have you been at this job for 10 years now, and you don’t see yourself progressing and don’t feel challenged at work? Do you not look forward to going to work, yet you can’t find the courage to quit because you’re too comfortable or perhaps afraid? Or are you not sure if you can find something better and if the risk is worth taking? And so you end up putting that thought on hold and on hold and on hold…

How Stuck Are You?

And, there are also different levels of feeling stuck.

Some could be feeling stuck only temporarily, whilst others could be feeling stuck for months or even years. Often, as time passes, the feeling of being stuck intensifies when nothing is being done or changes.

And ultimately, some people end up settling, or just resigning to their fate. Subconsciously, without even realizing it, they end up pushing their dreams and goals further and further away.

Advertising

For others, the feeling of being stuck becomes so unbearable that they have to make changes. They have to get out of the situation, and so they make those life changing decisions in hopes of finally feeling free and unstuck.

So how is it that we even end up feeling stuck in life? Take some time to recall an instance when you were feeling that way. When you felt trapped and stuck, as if there was absolutely nothing you could do to turn things around, do you know how that happened as you think back now?

Why Do We Feel Stuck?

There are many reasons for why we end up feeling stuck in life. Sometimes, it’s because we’re too afraid of taking risks or making mistakes. We play it so safe that we do end up living ‘risk free’ lives, but they also end up being uneventful or unsatisfying, which leads to us feeling stagnant or stuck.

Here are some common reasons for feeling stuck:

You Don’t Know What You Want

You may feel stuck if you don’t really know what it is that you want in life. You don’t have concrete goals or dreams to work towards.

Even though you may be hustling at work everyday, getting on with your roles and responsibilities, you ultimately don’t feel fulfilled.

There’s always something missing, and so you feel stuck, trying to figure it out.

Advertising

You’re Not Getting Help

You could also be feeling stuck because you’re not getting enough support or help. You’ve only been relying on yourself to solve problems. After a while, there’s only so much you can do on your own.

You need fresh perspective, advice and support from others; whether they be mentors, counselors and coaches, your elders or loved ones.

Influence is a good source of inspiration and motivation. If you surround yourself with peers or mentors who have succeeded or achieved goals and dreams in their lives, then you’ll likely be influenced positively.

You’ve Been Chasing the Wrong Objectives

It could just be that you’re feeling stuck because you’ve been giving yourself false objectives. You see what others have and you start comparing.

Your colleague just got a promotion while you’re still at the same spot. Your best friend just got engaged, and here you are, still single with time ticking fast away. Your friends are buying luxury watches, bags and shoes, but you can hardly afford to pay off your credit card bills every month.

Comparing is one of the worst things anyone could ever do, because it often leads to extreme feelings of unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

You start questioning your life, and that’s how the feeling of being stuck arises because you don’t feel adequate compared to your peers. You don’t feel as accomplished.

Advertising

While this may sometimes be a good force to push you towards working harder, it can also become a huge demotivator when the wrong objectives are being compared.

How Do You Get Unstuck?

The list of reasons why we feel stuck in life goes on, but the good news is that it is possible to push past that limitation. It all starts with you–your mind, your thoughts and acceptance of wanting to get out of your current situation.

Your reality is derived from your perception. So it’s not reality that’s important, but rather, how you see reality. So being able to control how you look at things is the key to getting unstuck, and breaking free.

Shaping your perception is so powerful that just a small change in perspective can completely change everything.

All limitations really start from your mind. 

This means you can learn how to take control of the way you view your limitations, and push your way out of your current situation and become a better version of you.

The Breakthrough Framework

Feeling stuck is never a nice situation to be in. Yet more often than not, it is possible to get out of that situation once you’re able to transform your mindset and start taking action.

Advertising

Whether it’s wanting to get out of an unfulfilling job or toxic relationship, move up the career ladder or find more meaning in life, it is going to require more than one change.

What do I mean by that?

You don’t just embrace fear as what I’ve mentioned–to quit your job and that’s it, victory! You’re not going to be unstuck just like that. Sure, you may feel a temporary feeling of relief, but if you don’t make other changes in your life, chances are you’re going to end up facing a new setback or limitation in life again. 

This is why I want to introduce to you, the Breakthrough Framework. This framework gives you a chance at a total paradigm shift, so you can turn any limitation you may be having into an opportunity that is achievable.

By going through each of this 4 step framework, you’ll be able to transform your mind and actions towards the change that is needed to achieve your ultimate goals.

On your journey, you will use a core group of skills, which we call the 7 Cornerstone Skills . The Cornerstone Skills give you a more in depth understanding and application of what should be done within each step of the Breakthrough Framework, allowing you to quickly and effectively apply it to any limitation you face.

Tired of being stuck time and again? It’s time to resolve that permanently and start living out your best days!

Featured photo credit: Ben Hershey via unsplash.com

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

The Lifehack Show Episode 3: Why Validation is Key to Lasting Relationships What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually) 25 Best Self Improvement Books to Read No Matter How Old You Are 10 Simple Strategies to Make Your Life Better Starting Today How To Be A Successful Person (And What Makes One Unsuccessful)

Trending in Smartcut

1 What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually) 2 30 Best Procrastination Quotes to Get You Back to Work 3 How to Set Short Term Goals for a Successful and Highly Fulfilling Life 4 7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success 5 9 Things the Most Satisfying Jobs Have in Common

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

Advertising

Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

Advertising

One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

Advertising

But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

Advertising

It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next