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Stuck? 5 Ways to Get Out of a Rut and Move Forward

Life is full of highs and lows. But at any point along the journey – not just the tough times, we can become stuck in our experience, like our cars in unsteady terrain. Sometimes we can navigate our way through the valleys and plateaus, and sometimes we lose our momentum and go nowhere.

Photo Courtesy of Montana Department of Vehicles

We can sink into the deep sand of emotions unhealed; fall in mental mud ruts of repetitive and unproductive thoughts; or stall high-centered in spiritual snowdrifts, trying to plow through circumstances beyond our control. The key to freeing ourselves is to recognize the situation for what it is – a wake-up call to stop what we are doing, get quiet, get clear, and make the change(s) necessary to move forward with our better lives.

5 Ways to Getting Unstuck

1. Avoid the path altogether.

We know better, yet we do it anyway. According to the National Weather Service and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water[i]. While your path ahead may not pose an imminent danger, known sources of suffering drown a soul, such as unhealthy habits, toxic relationships, and dead-end jobs.

2. Take stock and take heart.

Mindfully assess the situation. Perhaps life is calling you to pursue your passion, re-evaluate how you are showing up in the world and step into your truth, or more carefully choose relationships with people who encourage, support, and love you? And stop beating yourself up - even the most intelligent, successful, and creative people get stuck at some point.

3. Ease off the gas and stop trying to force your way through life.

We tend to keep going even when we are spinning our wheels. When you are stuck, more of the same effort and determination will only drive you deeper into the rut.

4. Create traction by changing direction.

Small, incremental movement can create big change. Like turning the wheels back and forth to generate traction in mud, sand, or snow, taking small steps in a different direction can be all you need to find new footing and move forward.

5. Seek help.

When we’re stuck, it’s hard to see anything but our “stuckness." You may be able to push, pull, or drag yourself out of your funk on your own...eventually. But we are in this thing called life together. A professional therapist or spiritual counselor can help you winch yourself out of the muck. Allowing your support system of family, friends, colleagues, mentors, and others throw you a line can help ease your burden and raise your spirit. It may require a brave conversation or a simple request. But no one can help unless you ask.

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy;

for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves;

we must die to one life before we can enter another.[ii]”

– Anatole France

Even though a change may be long overdue, it may seem easier to stay in the sameness of it all and sulk. If we are not growing intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually, we aren't just stuck, we are dying. Fortunately, one of our most astonishing superpowers is the ability to transform ourselves and our lives at any moment. And being stuck is a formidable catalyst for change if we are willing to use our power for our good.


© Nancy Noack and Mighty Oak Ministries International, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


[i] National Weather Service, "Turn Around Don't Drown."

[ii] Anatole France Quotes (Author of The Gods Will Have Blood).

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