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Published on May 11, 2020

Emotionally Stuck? 8 Steps to Get Unstuck

Emotionally Stuck? 8 Steps to Get Unstuck

Our mind is an incredible force that we are still working on understanding to this day. Sometimes we feel great and ready to tackle the world. But over time, as we grow and develop, new behaviors may begin to manifest in our lives.

Some are very helpful and give our lives structure while others will drive us to a point where we feel stuck. Emotionally stuck. It can be sparked from all kinds of things, and it’s challenging to overcome.

However, it is possible to overcome it. To get started, try considering the following.

Why Do I Feel Emotionally Stuck?

Before becoming emotionally unstuck, you need to know why you are in this position in the first place. John Amodeo Ph.D., MFT wrote about why people are feeling stuck in life [1].

It’s all to do with one particular emotion: shame.

Several of us are quietly plagued with thoughts that we’re flawed or that we’re defective. Deep down, you may think that you’re a failure.

This level of shame is not something that can be easily spotted despite it being a painful emotion. Amodeo states that you may be numb to the pain due to just how painful it is.

Fortunately, Amodeo has observed this behavior time and time again and knows what to look for. From his observations, people who are emotionally stuck express at least one of these characteristics:

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Defensiveness

Shame is an emotion you don’t want to experience, so your body mentally responds by protecting you. This comes in many forms, but the most common is blaming others or shifting the argument so you’re taking less responsibility for your actions.

Perfectionism

This is putting up the appearance that you are without flaws, and you spend a lot of time ensuring everything is meticulously done. It gets to the point that you won’t allow human error, which is bound to happen and stresses you out.

Apologizing

Shame prompts us to apologize or to be compliant. In some cases, shame can also prevent us from apologizing to avoid the risk of embarrassment.

Procrastination

While procrastination reasons can be endless, shame is one of those reasons. It comes from the shame of the potential failure if we commit to a task or project.

All of this makes sense as shame clearly leads to some form of paralysis, no matter how you look at it. You’re stuck because you:

  • Don’t want to admit you’re wrong about something and change.
  • Are too strung up about keeping an appearance and never making mistakes.
  • Apologize so much that you allow people to steer you in various directions.
  • Put off various tasks that’ll help you and heal your shame.

How Can I Get Emotionally Unstuck?

Now that you have a deeper understanding of why you’re emotionally stuck, you need to work on getting unstuck. There are several ways to overcome it, but it all requires a great deal of mental work. Fortunately, there are methods you can do at home.

1. Find a Quiet Place

Or at least an area where you won’t be distracted. Once you have that spot, make a point of going there on a regular basis. Schedule some time on your calendar if you have to.

The purpose of this quiet place is to begin developing your inner voice. From there, you’ll be able to listen to it and begin to identify elements and emotions. By the end, you’ll be able to identify your emotions and know the root cause for them.

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2. Dig Emotionally Deep

As you explore your inner voice, you’ll find that one emotion masks many others. For example, you may get angry about something, but it often masks deeper emotions like fear or pain. This step entails digging in and knowing what triggers what.

If you can’t identify your emotion properly or there are too many, observe yourself over the coming week and sit down again for another exploration session.

3. Identify the Root

You start by asking a question: “Have I found the root of this emotion, or am I still on the surface?” For example, if you’re depressed, you’ll likely find frustration and sadness along with it. You want to make sure you are uncovering and identifying as many emotions as you can.

4. Work to Name All Your Emotions

The idea of repeating steps one through three is to ensure that all your emotions are exposed. Again, you want to have a good understanding for why you react in a certain way and what is triggering it.

Emotions all create pathways in our minds, and we often go through the same sequence if we’re not conscious about our emotions.

5. Ponder One Emotion at a Time

Once you know your emotions, you need to dig deeper and know the precise triggers. For example, people experience depression because of a deep sense of loneliness. This could be triggered by past events or even upbringing.

With this step, you want to make sure your emotions are laid out. You don’t want to be covering them up, even though you may want to. The only way you’ll be able to overcome being emotionally stuck is to handle the emotion rather than burying it again.

6. Take Breaks When Needed

You’re not going to be able to handle one emotion in each session. These things take time and, depending on the emotion you’re handling, it could be a painful experience.

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Remind yourself that you can take a break and save other emotions for other sessions. If you’re making a habit of visiting your quiet place often, you’ll overcome this.

You should also avoid people who will drag you down or judge you. Since you’ll have a firmer understanding of your emotions, you’ll know what’ll trigger what.

This is an important time to take breaks for sessions, as well as from certain people or activities.

7. Begin Healing

Being emotionally stuck is about knowing what is triggering certain emotions and actions. Getting unstuck is about realizing this, accepting it, finding the causes, and then making changes.

The time to get to this point varies from person to person. You might need a few sessions while others could take a few months. Either way, you want to make sure you have a grasp of your emotions and begin formulating a plan to start healing.

How to do this is to begin making changes in your life, surroundings, and habits. For example, if you feel that many of your friends’ actions are holding you back and making you act this way, begin finding new friends and branching out in that area.

Some other common examples are using affirmations or even making bigger decisions that throw you way out of your comfort zone. There are many approaches to take with this, but do what you think is best for you.

8. Stay Emotionally Unstuck

That’s easier said than done as people can relapse. The trick is to set boundaries and expectations for yourself. If you don’t want to be around specific people, tell them you are doing something necessary for your health and well being.

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Some other things are to keep yourself in check by looking at your emotions from time to time. Ensure you are going down a path you want to go down and that you’re happy with it. This can include meditation or journaling to identify and work with your emotions on a regular basis.[2]

Being emotionally unstuck comes down to taking action and holding yourself more responsible for what you do. At the same time, you can handle it in a way where you can keep moving forward and be comfortable with your decisions.

Get Unstuck and Live Your Life

When you feel emotionally stuck, it’s fair to chalk it up to the shame of an event that you are refusing to acknowledge. This shame has lead you down this path where you feel paralyzed and, well, stuck.

By uncovering that shame and coming to terms with it, you’ll be able to formulate a plan and begin to change your life. It’s that simple, but as you can tell, this requires mental fortitude and being able to handle painful emotions that you have naturally suppressed.

Take all the time you need to get unstuck. This is all part of your journey for more growth and freedom.

More Tips on Handling Emotions

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rawson-Harris via unsplash.com

Reference

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Critical (And How to Strike a Balance)

The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Critical (And How to Strike a Balance)

It is easy to hear the term “self-critical” and be immediately put off. After all, it’s difficult to be our own critics. However, utilizing self-criticism means taking a more self-aware path to ensure that you aren’t overlooking any possible areas of self-improvement.

Self-criticism affects your self-esteem and can be a useful tool to identify patterns of weakness that you can look to eradicate by adapting your behavior.

Self-Criticism Vs Self-Deprecation

In exploring the idea of self-criticism, one has to first consider what it means for the individual. It’s important to remember that there is a significant difference between being self-critical and being self-deprecating.

Self-deprecation is the act of putting oneself down, sometimes in an attempt to be humorous, but oftentimes out of a place of doubt and insecurity[1].

Self-deprecation erodes one’s confidence. It isn’t something to use lightly, as your own self-talk will play a part in defining your existence and how you are perceived, and, more importantly, in how you perceive yourself.

At the same time, you can’t take yourself so seriously that you are unable to make light of your mistakes as you pursue self-improvement. There is, of course, a balance to be struck, and both self-criticism and self-deprecation can be utilized in moderation.

Learning the difference between the two is the key to pursuing a productive life that will allow your successes to compound and your failures to be reduced. While self-deprecation can highlight flaws in your approach to life, self-criticism is more concerned with addressing those flaws and then acting to correct them.

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Self-Criticism: A Roadmap for Positive Change

Self-evaluation as a tool can open your eyes to the problematic behaviors that are derailing your goals. By identifying those behaviors, you can identify the steps to become the best version of yourself.

“Your thoughts affect how you feel and how you behave. The way you think has the power to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.” -Amy Morin[2]

This idea underlines the importance of not allowing self-criticism to blur into the realm of self-deprecating behavior. That will only work against you as you are attempting to constructively analyze your own behavior.

Auditing is necessary and good. Look at industries across the board and you will find that the most successful companies, people, and products have worked hard to refine their final output. Auditing your life, schedule, clients, contacts, and more will help you to identify the good from the bad.

If you don’t look back on what you’ve done and allow yourself to be self-critical of the areas that created more problems and less results, how will you learn how to avoid those missteps in your future endeavors?

Auditing with critical thoughts will allow you to build your own map to success by targeting behaviors that are ineffective in your pursuit of goals, and it will help you realize the changes that need to take place in order to correct for those inefficiencies.

The Pros of Being Self-Critical

Self-Criticism Opens Your Eyes to Areas of Improvement

In life, you ought to be your biggest fan and instill the confidence in yourself to show the world that you are worthy of the life that you’ve achieved up until now.

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At the same time, however, you need to have the self-awareness to understand that you can feel like a million bucks while still having room for improvement. Learn to be self-critical enough to increase your overall success in the pursuit of your goals.

You can check out this TED Talk with Tasha Eurich to learn more on how to improve your self-awareness:

We all need to look in the mirror at times and work to identify the deficiencies in our own behavior in order to find room for improvement. So many people live their lives in a manner that allows no room for self-reflection and thus are missing out on key opportunities.

For example, many people complain about not having the money to save for retirement, but instead of working to identify a solution, they assume that it cannot be fixed. Some of those individuals might find that if they challenge themselves and open themselves up to criticism, they may find the source of their problem.

Perhaps they don’t have a proper budget in place and are spending more money than they bring in on a week-to-week basis. Being self-critical would help them realize this.

I’d argue that if we all spent more energy evaluating our place in life, how we got there, and where we want to go, it would clear up what is missing from the equation.

Self-Criticism Allows You to Realize Your Potential

By working to analyze your own behaviors and identify areas that need to be improved upon, you will be able to better strive to reach your full potential in life and unlock success.

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Being self-critical will help you to go from where you are now to where you want to be, and it will increase your self-awareness. There are so many positives to be gained by adopting a self-critical attitude.

Read more about self-improvement: 42 Practical Ways to Improve Yourself

The Cons of Being Self-Critical

Self-Criticism Can Overemphasize Negatives

The problems that could arise if one is overly self-critical are not always clear, but there are a few issues that can pop up if you start being too hard on yourself.

If you are self-critical too often and don’t allow space in your own audit of yourself for praise, celebration, and reassurance in your victories, then you may be on a path of negative self-talk and perhaps even depression.

If you are constantly looking for what is wrong with your actions or pursuits while failing to see what you are doing right, then you aren’t utilizing self-criticism properly. While the line is thin, there is definitely a difference between appropriate, foundation-building self-criticism, and over-zealous, confidence-eroding self-deprecation.

Self-Criticism Can Lead to Negative Distortions of Yourself

One struggle I often see in individuals is with their own perception of self. If you have been raised to believe that you are a failure, for example, then you may not have a healthy expectation of yourself.

By being overly self-critical, you might be distorting your own self-image. The key here lies in utilizing the device of self-criticism correctly, which many people often do not do.

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If utilized properly, self-criticism can be a fantastic tool, but if used incorrectly, it can have devastating effects on your own self-worth and confidence.

Final Thoughts

When used properly, self-criticism can be a tool for success.

We must work hard to ensure that we are in fact exercising a constructive analysis of our own behavior and not falling into self-deprecation.

Unfortunately, it seems as though many view the idea of being self-critical with a negative connotation. However, it can be an extremely positive and fruitful exercise if pursued with the right mindset.

It helps tremendously when you have a community of friends and family who also help to uplift you and encourage you as you are pursuing your dreams in life.

In evaluating your own situation and in attempting to constructively self-criticize, you should also take a look at the people you surround yourself with to try and better understand if those individuals are helping you in your aspirations or if they are holding you back as you work to better yourself.

“We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” -Jim Rohn[3]

If you work to adopt a healthy version of self-criticism and avoid allowing it to delve into self-deprecation or self-doubt, then it will serve you well as a tool to lend support to your goals and aspirations.

More Tips About Building Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Elijah O’Donnell via unsplash.com

Reference

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