I’m Diana Swillinger and you’re listening to the Renew Your Mind podcast. Episode 3, Feeling Stuck. I hear it all the time. I just feel stuck. Nobody likes how it feels. So on this episode, we’ll take a look at why we feel stuck and how to, um, unstuck yourself. Um, thanks for joining me.
DIANA: Hey, Hey. Welcome to The Renew Your Mind podcast. I’m your host, Diana Swillinger, and I’m so glad you’re here. Today, we’re going to take a look at being stuck. It’s one of the most common things I hear from the women. I coach or I’m out speaking. Um, I talk to women all the time. I hear it all the time. I just feel stuck.
Stuck in a bad marriage, stuck in a bad habit, stuck in fear, stuck in depression, stuck in the past. Stuck doing the same things every day, like laundry and dishes and helping with homework. And, oh, you can tell I’m a mom.
Same stuff day after day. Feel stuck. Stuck in an unsatisfying life. Some people tell me regardless of the variations of feeling stuck, most people that I talk to, they’re telling me this because they’re
sick of being stuck. I have felt stuck. And when I’ve been in a place where I thought I was stuck, I felt trapped.
I felt restricted, I guess, like feeling, uh, unfree. It didn’t feel right. There’s some thoughts I have about in
our country, the United States, we talk about freedom, the land of the free and the brave.
But a lot of us living here, we feel stuck. And then we don’t feel free or brave. And as a Christian, we’re
supposed to be free in Christ. Christ gives us freedom.
But so many of us Christians, we just don’t seem to be able to grab hold of that freedom, to grab hold of that promise. We don’t know how to realize it. We don’t know how make it real. We have Christ, but we feel stuck and we don’t feel free. And then I think because we look around at everybody else’s life and they all seem great, right?
On Instagram and Facebook and at church and at the store, everyone’s fine and great. And we think that somehow we got the short end of the stick. Everyone else gets to feel free and happy, but somehow I’m the one that got the shaft. And when we feel stuck, our brains keep spinning stories to support the stuckness. We look around at our situation and we find all the evidence in our lives that can prove it. Yep, for sure, I’m stuck. Just look at my life. See for sure. But if Renewing Our Mind makes everything in life better than how we’re going to apply it here. And I think the answer to unstucking your life is that very thing unstuck, um, your brain. Start with the mind. What if we just explore the idea of being stuck? Are we really stuck anyway? Is that really possible?
Being stuck might just be an illusion that you’ve created with your thoughts and repeating stories in your brain about being stuck. If you wake up every day and think, I’m stuck in this life, you’re going to feel stuck.
I would like to suggest that maybe we aren’t ever stuck. Really? We’re always moving forward in time. We’re always moving forward in character development. The earth is spinning and we are in motion with it. We’re moving. We’re not really stuck. At least I don’t think so. We think we’re stuck because of what’s going on in our brain, because what we’re choosing to believe about our current life experience. Okay, some thoughts that our brains offer that might get us feeling stuck are …”it’s not supposed to be this way. I should have figured this out already. I should already be blank by now. Fill in the blank. I should already be promoted by now, married by now, healthy by now, skinny by now, financially secure by now. Other thoughts that might leave you feeling stuck… I don’t have a choice. I have no options. There’s nothing I can do. If you’re thinking those thoughts, you can see, right? If you think you don’t have a choice, if you think you have no options, if you think you’re not able to do anything about it, how are you going to feel? You’re going to feel stuck.
But I would like to suggest that maybe all of those thoughts are lies. Those thoughts are lies that cause you to feel like a victim of your circumstance, a victim of life, a victim of your self imposed limits, a victim of your
boss of time, your spouse, or anything outside of you. You can see how when you think thoughts like this, you’re going to be left feeling helpless or you’re going to feel hopeless. And for sure, you’re going to feel stuck.
So let’s take a look at one of these thoughts. Let’s look at the thought, it isn’t supposed to be this way. I used to have that thought a lot. My marriage was struggling. My husband was dealing with his own depression by meeting friends out at bars at night instead of being home with his family. By the way, he gives me full permission to share this story because we’ve come through this. He’d be out of the bars at night, and I never knew when he was going to arrive home. And my thoughts would fight with reality. The reality was that he was out doing his thing and I was home taking care of the family. But I would lay in bed fighting that reality, saying to myself, it’s not supposed to be this way.
And every time I would think that thought, I position myself as the victim of my husband’s actions. And I was stuck. I was stuck in this life, in this marriage, and it felt hopeless. Telling myself it was supposed to be
different was fighting with reality. And it would just send me straight into the negative feelings and, uh, it
felt terrible. The truth was, my husband was on his own life journey and maybe it was totally supposed to be happening that way.
How can that be okay? How can him going out to the bars at night and me not knowing when he’s going to be home and I’m taking care of the family? How can that be okay? It didn’t feel okay at the time. But when I look back in hindsight, I can see it was a huge part of God preparing me for speaking and coaching and helping hundreds and thousands of women walk through similar challenging circumstances.
So it was an important and useful part of my experience, too. It was supposed to be happening that way for my husband and it was for his journey, and it was supposed to be happening in my life for me. Getting me ready for what I’m supposed to do in my life. I just didn’t know it. I wasn’t stuck. I was being prepared.
I could have left the marriage too. I wasn’t physically stuck. I could have left. I could have moved in with my
parents. Well, maybe I do have four kids and I can imagine that I might have driven them mad. But I had options, right? I did not have to physically stay in my house. I chose to. I was not stuck. My experience was not matching up with my expectations, but I wasn’t stuck.
This part of my story gave me lots of opportunities to figure things out, to grow and to learn and evolve. And all of it was forward motion. Even if I didn’t choose to look at it that way. It was forward motion, not stuckness. It was character development. It was emotional maturing. I was on a path to becoming a better version of me through that fire, through the challenges. I already hit on this other thought a little bit. But what about thinking that we don’t have a choice or we don’t have an option? This is a lie that our brain feeds us. You always have choices.
Uh, you always do. It’s easier to say we don’t have a choice and make it the other person’s fault that we think we’re stuck in a situation, but that’s not taking responsibility for our choices. We do have choices. I chose to stay during the difficult times in my marriage. That was a choice. I had options. There’s always something you can do. Even when we can’t change the circumstance, we can work on our thoughts. Even when we can’t change the circumstance, we can work on our attitudes. Even if we can’t change the circumstance, we can work on our emotions and our communications and how we show up in our relationships. So now you know. You create the perception of being stuck with your thoughts. So how do you stop feeling stuck? So the first thing is owning the thoughts that you’re having that make you feel stuck. Own them. You’re having those thoughts. You don’t have to beat yourself up for making the thoughts, but just own them. You’re having those thoughts. Notice the story you’re telling yourself that makes you feel stalled or locked in or held back or hopeless.
Awareness is step number one. Always. And observe what you’re telling yourself about your situation. And whenever you take a look at your brain, no matter what you find going on there, be kind to you. Give yourself grace. They’re just thoughts, and you’re interested in working on them to improve your experience of life. That’s awesome. Notice your thoughts. Be kind to yourself and support yourself through the process. Once you can identify a thought that’s making you feel stuck, you can ask yourself some questions about it.
Last episode, we talked about checking to see if the thought is true. Okay? So you can go back and listen to episode two and, and hear what, uh, we we talk about. There testing if a thought is true. But the next question you can ask yourself about a thought is, is this thought helping me? So here’s a hint.
If you think the thought and then you feel stuck or discouraged or helpless after thinking that thought, that
thought is not helping you. When you notice that, you might decide you don’t want to think that thought anymore, right? When you can take a step back and be like, why am I thinking that when it just makes me feel terrible? That is not helpful. But your brain’s gotten pretty good at thinking that thought on default, so you’re going to have to retrain it. Consider telling yourself a new story. A story that acknowledges that you feel stuck. But maybe, maybe you have options. Tell yourself a story that reminds you that it’s possible you could make a different choice. A story that puts you in charge of your life and responsible. A story that says maybe it’s okay that you don’t have it figured out yet, but you can still take a step forward. Any step.
I love analogies, so things I can picture in my mind really help me. So here’s an analogy for this. I live in Wisconsin. So a popular pastime is cross country skiing. Now that I think about it, I really don’t know anybody that cross country ski’s. I’m not sure how popular it is. Well, who cares? It’s something people do here in Wisconsin. They cross country ski. When I was a teenager, I used to go up north to four wilderness. Up north in Wisconsin, that’s what we in Wisconsin, we call any territory that isn’t a city or it’s suburban, and we can go there to get away. And there’s a lake and woods that’s up north. So up north in Wisconsin is Fort Wilderness. And I went there with my youth group every winter for a few days. And one time my friends wanted to go skiing, cross country skiing. They thought it’d be pretty fun, so we did. I fell a few times, but mostly it wasn’t too bad because we stayed on the well worn trails.
So this is what happens for any of you who’ve never cross country skied. When skiers go before you on the trails, their skis create ruts in the snow. It gets packed down like just the proper width of the cross country skis so that the next person that comes, their skis can fit right into the ruts, into the grooves. And you can ski without too much effort. And you don’t get off track. You just stay right there in the ruts.
It’s like thoughts in our brain that we’re used to thinking. The thoughts are stuck in a rut. They move along these well traveled paths without much resistance and not much effort. It’s easy to think our usual thoughts and stories, and our brain gets to conserve energy when we think the usual thoughts that we’ve practiced thinking. But what if you don’t want to think the same stories and thoughts? What if you want to forge a new trail? What if you want a new way to think better stories, ones that will serve you, ones that will empower you?
Well, let’s go back to cross country skiing and skiing. If you want to go off that well worn path out into the untraveled snow where nobody’s made a trail for you, and make a new path, you’re going to have resistance. That snow is not packed down with nice grooves and ruts to keep you sliding easily. Now you’re going to have to work for it. You’re going to have to think about where you’re going. You’re going to have to push through. You have to use more energy, decide to be determined. It’s not as easy. And this is the same thing with creating new thoughts and getting unstuck. It’s going to feel uncomfortable, it’s going to require more effort. But a new path will be what you’re creating, a new path to the new destination and the new thoughts. So instead of taking that well worn, easy path that leads to feeling hopeless and discouraged and stuck, the path that takes more intention and energy is the one that’s going to lead you to feeling capable or hopeful or creative or, uh, optimistic.
We’re not really stuck. We’re just choosing to take a path that has less resistance, even if it’s not truly where we want to go. So if you want to experience freedom, you want to find the possibilities and all the other amazing things available to you, you’re going to have to be willing to take a path, a brain path that’s less traveled so you can get unstuck. And I think it’s worth it. I am here to help you get unstuck.
I’m going to keep recording these podcasts. All of them are going to help you get unstuck. I have a website you can head on over to if you want to talk with me one on one, you can sign up for one of my introductory coaching sessions, and I’ll help you get unstuck. That’s it for today. Y’all come back next week and we’ll talk about some other amazing topic that will help you renew your mind.