Do you ever feel stuck? Caught in a moment of uncertainty, low confidence, fear, or regret you cannot shake? Or maybe you’ve found yourself overwhelmed and confined by intense emotions attached to past choices and experiences that somehow seem defining rather than simply a chapter lived through.
Occasionally feeling stuck is a universal experience, something almost all of us will know at some time or another, as we struggle with the difficult emotions standing in our paths. Feeling stuck is something many of our clients experience and seek help overcoming, blocked by fear of repeating past mistakes or reliving painful experiences, feelings of guilt, intrusive self-talk about their own perceived inadequacies, or depression. Getting unstuck then becomes a function of “once these painful thoughts and emotions go away, I’ll make my move.” The problem with this is way of thinking is that the painful thoughts and emotions become self-perpetuating; waiting for our anxiety or low mood to lift only creates greater anxiety and deeper lows, and our self-criticism grows harsher as we remain stuck waiting on some perfect timing. Eventually, our inertia becomes permanent.
One of the primary keys to becoming unstuck lies in a simple phrase, and one we should all make part of our mantra for when past stories and present anxieties get in our way: “It’s never too late to do the next right thing.”
Doing the next right thing is about acknowledging our emotions – even the most difficult ones – and choosing to flow through them despite the pain and uncertainty they evoke. It is about staying present in the current moment without judgment, valuing mistakes of the past as lessons from which to learn and our feelings in the present as messages to heed. It is about seeing strength and potential in forward movement, no matter how small the step. Doing the next right thing is about choosing value-driven action, and then taking those next steps despite our uncertainties.
You see, the problem with getting and remaining stuck is that it leaves us entrapped and defined by the past; past mistakes, past bad choices, past thinking, without the possibility of growth and changing our definitions. Doing the next right thing reinforces that the past is the past. It existed and the memories of it are real, but it no longer exists, and we are not bound by who we were but who we want to be. Acknowledge the past but refuse to reside in it as you let your values determine your next right thing.