Taking the first step and asking for help is often difficult. It requires a moment of clarity when they realize their life is not what they want it to be. Sometimes a friend or loved one becomes the catalyst by encouraging them to change. For others, emotional pain caused by a breakup, job loss or financial crisis becomes their motivator. Regardless of the cause, many people reach a point in their life when they realize they are tired of being unhappy. The problem is that most of them have no idea what to do about it. They are stuck and, without help, they stay stuck.
There are a number of reasons people why people get and stay stuck:
Fear - Change is frightening for everyone. We all fear the unknown and it's easy to imagine worst case scenarios. "What if X happens?" where X is the most negative outcome possible. With that outcome firmly planted in our thoughts, regardless of how improbable or remote it may be, we create thought patterns that reinforce our fear. Those thoughts quickly become our only reality and we can't see any options except failure. So we do nothing.
Comfort - It's easy to become comfortable with unhappiness. It's familiar, predictable and much easier than trying to do something about it. Rather than facing the fact that our choices determine our situation, we decide to accept our unhappiness and adopt a victim mentality. "This is my lot in life and there is nothing I can do about it." Over time, we come to believe we are trapped by external forces that control our life. We've become victims and there is nothing we can do about it.
Self-Esteem - How many times have you caught yourself saying "I can't …" or I'm not …" These statement are often the result of social conditioning or messages we learned growing up. As a result, we are constantly measuring ourselves against other people or situations and we usually don't measure up. We begin to subconsciously tell ourselves that we aren't "enough" and lower our expectations. Eventually we convince ourselves that we aren't good enough to achieve our dreams and give up on them. We become stuck.
Focus - Sometimes the challenges of our lives can become so overwhelming that we lose sight of our goals. Everything is urgent and we spend our time so focused on the details that we can't figure out what to do next. Life becomes overwhelming and rather than working towards a future goal, we scramble to band-aid our current situation.
There are many reasons people get stuck, but these are the reasons I encounter most often. Of course, there are sometimes more serious issues that need to be addressed before people can move forward. Addiction, major depression, mental illness or emotional trauma are serious, often life-threatening conditions that must be treated by a licensed professional before any progress can be made. But for most people, getting stuck is a gradual process that begins long before we become aware of it.
Regardless of how we get there, being stuck is a painful place and we are trapped until we are willing to ask for help. The good news is that no one needs to be stuck. There are numerous resources available to anyone who is ready to make a change in their life.
Your ideal life is out there and you can achieve it. All it takes is the courage to take the first step.