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  • Ashley Miller

On Being Stuck Part 1:

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

We know life as being an epic journey full of all the elements, twists and turns. So it’s not uncommon or surprising to find ourselves feeling stuck at various points along our path.This sense of being trapped, immobilized or feeling stuck in a cyclical rut, can be quite disheartening and overwhelming. Features of anxiety, depression, fear, frustration, feelings of defeat, loss of self and sense of hopelessness are some of the possible emotions that can flood our inner system, leading to self-damage, feelings of shame and disconnection. Please know that you’re not alone.


In this post, I’d like to explore the complexity of the feelings connected with the sense of being stuck and offer guidance on ways to find openings to release the emotions that can wreak havoc in our inner nervous systems. It is important to note at the onset that feeling stuck and attuning to the sensations, emotions, and truth of this feeling can lead to invaluable personal self-discovery and growth.

This is a two-part blog post. In this post, I talk about what the stuck feeling might be, how to start noticing it in your body, and then exploring our inner working system to better understand what we might be able to do to address the ‘stuckness’. In the second part, I’ll focus on setting goals, creating a vision for yourself, and seeking support.

So, when we have this feeling of being stuck, trapped or on a constant loop, what can we do?

Understand that feeling / sensation of being stuck:

  • Recognize: take a moment and recognize the emotion of feeling stuck. Acknowledge and name out loud your emotions. Naming the feeling offers you to bear witness and to inform yourself and your body that you are here and are listening to its wisdom. It’s ok to feel lost, fearful, frustrated, uncertain about where you’re at. Offer permission to experience your emotions without an agenda of problem solving them away.

  • Address emotions: notice where these emotions are located in and around your body. Notice where your emotions around stuckness lands (around your lower belly, chest, throat, eyes, head, etc..). Once we know where the emotions of stuckness lands we can place our hand or hands there and attune to it. Allow the body to feel your presence and acknowledge that you have found its spot in your body.

  • Connect: attune with the emotion and felt sense. Check in to see if this feeling or range of feelings is familiar. Have you felt this in the past? Is it linked to past memories or body memories? Sometimes memories show up in images, or in body reactions, and can be non-verbal. That’s ok, just notice and name what you’re experiencing. Discovering the root cause of your feelings can offer clarity and insight into the impact it’s having on you today and can offer a map of how to move forward.

Explore the Inner Working System:

  • Acknowledge: once we have a greater understanding of the emotions and location of the root of stuckness, see if you can acknowledge and validate its presence in your system. Can you attune to its reason for being there which often stems from protecting you from getting hurt and to best stay put or “stuck” may have once been the safest move to make for self-protection and safety.

  • Self-Compassion: this can be a very uncomfortable and foreign practice if compassion or self-compassion have not been part of your general practice in life or wasn’t modelled to you. Again, offer permission to be gentle with yourself during this challenging period. Practice self-compassion by treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer a close friend or would have wanted to be treated when you were younger or treated today. I’ll often ask clients to try and talk to themselves with a tone they’d use when they’re with a puppy or kitten, a child or with someone who approaches them on the street and shares that they’re lost and are looking for directions.

  • Mindfulness: incorporate mindfulness practices into your daily routine. These practices can help you stay in the moment, reduce increased anxiety and overwhelm, and gain a clearer perspective on your life. Mindfulness can be as simple as reminding yourself to take a conscious breath or notice your feet on the ground and wriggle your toes and stamp your feet. Mindfulness practice can be brushing your teeth and just practice engaging in that moment or naming what you’re experiencing and doing in the moment. Start small and invite the idea that this kind of practice is actually about allowing the thoughts and feelings to be present but offering them a path to exit or to be with them without pushing them away or resisting the emotions, thoughts and sensations.

Stay tuned for part 2!


Fisher, J. (2017) Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors: Overcoming Internal Self-Alienation. New York, NY: Routledge

Nice and the Fox. (2017). Feeling stuck Painting. Retrieved from

van der Kolk, B. A. (2014). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. Viking.

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