Why am I feeling stuck in life?
Feeling like you are stuck in life can be exhausting! You spend time and energy thinking about your circumstances. Maybe you are caught in a cycle of regret, or spending time fantasizing about how things would be different if you could make changes.
Remember when you were a kid and everything in your life felt like it was going so slowly? I mean, Christmas took forever to arrive, and your birthday felt like it was moving at the speed of a snail! Now you are an adult, and suddenly, your life pace has increased so much that you have a daily sense of time slipping away from you!
Are You In A Season of Stuck?
It’s no wonder that we get hit with a bad case of emotional whiplash when we experience a season of being stuck. Being stuck in life feels like sitting in an eternal waiting room, nothing changes, and you never get a chance to leave.
Although we understand that nothing lasts forever, our brain feels anxious and confused when we are stuck in life. Our emotions are focused on the feelings of missing out and being left behind.
Feeling Stuck In A Middle Age Rut
Sometimes when you are in a ‘season of stuck” it can feel like you are working really hard to make progress. Have you ever been in an exercise class that felt like it would never end? Relatable?
When Hard Work and Personal Effort Seem Pointless
A while ago, I was in spin class, puffing my way through one of the toughest rides I had ever done.
My legs muscles burning, I was panting like a running dog, and frantically focusing on the clock.
It seemed that the clock hands were frozen… it was going to be 9:30 forever. I stared that thing down with laser focus, certain that it had stopped, and I was destined to endlessly spin on that bike.
The truth is the clock hadn’t stopped. My perception of time was off, skewed by my great desire to be done exerting myself.
Why Do I Feel Like My Life Is Going Nowhere?
Have you ever been in a season of your life, when it feels like you are at full speed, but in reality, you are going nowhere? It seems like everyone else is moving forward, except you. Are you convinced that you are forgotten, shelved, or misplaced?
One of the more challenging emotions in midlife happens when we are feeling stuck. Inspiration is gone, enthusiasm is waning, and daily life can feel like one giant sinkhole of repetition. Can you tell that I am speaking from experience? Yes, I have struggled with the “suck of stuck “in my life.
Why Do I Feel So Trapped?
As middle-aged women, most of us have gone through phases of feeling stuck in life. It’s the feeling of not moving forward or backward, of being in a rut where everything seems stagnant. It’s uncomfortable, frustrating, and often leads us to question our decisions and choices. But, it’s a natural part of life, and it’s not permanent
You Need To Make Sure That You Are Getting The Basics Right
The internet is full of good ideas to help you improve your life. But let’s remember that all self-help requires a solid foundation to build upon. I like to call them the “basics of life”. We need to be putting the basics in place so we can design a life we love!
Get enough sleep: Most middle-aged women need seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Getting enough sleep can help improve your mood, reduce stress, and boost your overall energy level.
Eat healthy: Eating a healthy diet is important for all middle-aged women. It can help reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and limiting your intake of saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol can help keep your heart healthy.
Be physically active: Regular physical activity is important for all middle-aged women. Exercise can help reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity on most days of the week. Moderate-intensity activities include walking, biking, and swimming.
Get regular health screenings: Middle-aged women should get regular health screenings for conditions such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, and osteoporosis. These screenings can help detect problems early when they are most treatable.
Manage stress: Stress can take a toll on your physical and mental health. Learning how to manage stress can help you feel better and stay healthy. Some helpful ways to manage stress include exercise, relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation, and spending time with friends or family.
Quit smoking: Smoking is one of the leading causes of death in middle-aged women. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. Quitting smoking can be difficult, but there are many resources available to help you succeed.
Still Stuck? Try These 6 Tips To Help You Move Forward
Now that we have the basics covered, let’s go in a more personal direction. As always, I encourage you to journal your thoughts in this “season of stuck.” I know that when we have a sudden flash of inspiration, it feels like we will never forget it. ( Relatable?)
Well, we are wrong! No matter how helpful or important those thoughts were, it is nearly impossible to remember them. Daily life keeps us busy, and before we know it, those important thoughts are like a sandcastle on the beach, washed away with the foamy tide. Write it down if you want to remember it.
How To Move Forward When Your Life Feels Stuck
Commit To Leaving Stronger
Make healthy decisions in this season. Being stuck can cause unnecessary damage to your life. Don’t let food, substances, spending, or unhealthy people get a foothold in your world. Prepare your mind, body, and spirit for the moment when you are free from the rut.
Sometimes a rut is actually a season of preparation, designed to bring forth, build or ignite something in us. Determine to leave this “stuck” season stronger, in every way.
Make A Commitment To Connect
Connect with others who have walked before you. Mentors, advisers, spiritual directors, there are many folks that are equipped to help you walk through the “season of forgotten”. Look for a person who is at least 10-15 years older than you are, and then offer to take them out for coffee.
Talk about your rut, asking for advice if you feel inspired to do so. Listen to them as they tell you about their stuck seasons. I promise there will be lessons in their stories for you. Circumstances are different, but people struggle on the same emotional level. Set up a monthly/bi-monthly coffee chat to share your thoughts and report on your progress in your season of stuck.
Identify The Source Of Your Stuckness
Sometimes, it’s not always clear why we feel stuck. Take some time to reflect and try to identify the root cause of your feelings. Is it your job? Your relationship? Your health?
Once you’ve identified the source, you can start to address it. It could be that you need to make some changes to your career, or perhaps it’s time to seek professional help for your emotional well-being. Identifying the source can feel uncomfortable, but it’s crucial to begin making progress.
Setting goals is a powerful way to move forward in life. It gives you direction and something to work towards. But, it’s essential to set achievable goals, otherwise, you may end up feeling discouraged.
Start with smaller goals that are within reach, which will help you build momentum towards your larger goals. Achieving those small goals will leave you feeling accomplished and encouraged, making it easier to take on larger challenges.
It’s okay to ask for help when you need it. Reach out to friends, family, or a professional for support. Consider joining a support group or community that aligns with your goals, where you can connect with like-minded people who can encourage and support you. Having a strong support system can make all the difference in moving through a difficult time in life.
Taking care of yourself is essential to moving forward in life. Carve out time for yourself each day to do things that you enjoy. Whether it’s taking a long bath or reading your favorite book. Self-care is vital for maintaining physical and mental health as well as building resilience.
Change is hard, but it’s inevitable. The more we learn to embrace change, the easier it becomes to adapt to new situations. Instead of resisting change, look for ways to lean into it. It could be changing your mindset or exploring new opportunities. When we embrace change, we open ourselves up to new experiences and possibilities.
But What If I Feel Stuck In The Past?
It can happen so easily; we make choices as a younger person and then we feel like we are trapped in the past. Unfortunately, many of us are not taught to think about our “future self” when we are growing up.
So many of our choices are impulsive driven (because our brains aren’t fully developed yet) or we make choices as a reaction to other people trying to control us.
We might choose relationships as a way to rebel. Maybe we spend our way into massive financial debt in an unbalanced effort to feel good about ourselves. Many substance addictions are a result of our younger self trying to find ways to numb our negative feelings or feel accepted by others.
Do You Have A Fear Of Moving Forward In Life?
So what do we do when we feel stuck in the past? Start with telling the truth. Sometimes it’s easier to stay stuck in the past because we are afraid to take responsibility for our choices. It’s okay to admit that you made some not-great decisions when you were younger. It doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you human.
Everyone has made at least one sketchy decision, and some of us have escaped horrible consequences by an act of divine grace.
It’s Time To Stop Being Stuck In The Past
You must tell the truth to begin the process of self-forgiveness. Self-forgiveness requires us to begin by accepting that we did something wrong. Whether we meant for it to hurt ourselves or other people, it was still a choice we made. Owning our actions helps us move toward inner peace and begins to release the peace of forgiveness in our souls.
There might be situations where we need to apologize to someone we hurt as a result of our younger choices. No matter how difficult it is to apologize, there is always a sense of emotional relief when it’s done.
Forgive Yourself And Move On
I know each situation is unique, but as a relationship coach, these are the steps to begin forgiving yourself. Feeling stuck in the past is exhausting and will make it hard for you to feel joy in your present life.
Commit to practicing forgiveness for those that hurt you, and forgiveness for your younger self. I linked my detailed post on self-forgiveness at the top of this article.
We can’t avoid the middle age rut. Feeling stuck will find each one of us at some point in our lives. But we can defuse its destructive power by making healthy choices while we are in season “feeling stuck”.
If we are stuck in the past, there are ways to move forward. Start with telling the truth, accepting your choices, and begin to practice forgiveness.
Feeling stuck in life is a natural part of the journey. It’s important to remember that it’s not permanent, and there are steps we can take to get unstuck. By identifying the source of our stuckness, setting achievable goals, getting support, practicing self-care, and embracing change, we can move forward in life with confidence, knowing that we can overcome any obstacle that comes our way. So, the next time you’re feeling stuck, take a deep breath and remember that there is a way forward.
Melane Ann is a writer, blogger, and life coach. In 2020, she turned her experience in midlife divorce and creating a new life for herself into midlifeismagical. With a master's in Marriage and Family Therapy, Melane focuses on helping women over 50 navigate their relationships and commit to healthy aging. She and her new husband share 7 children between them. Melane jokes that she has a black belt in blended families! In addition to her writing, Melane works virtually with her coaching clients from her home office.