When we get into a stuck place, it's especially difficult to get out of that place. They don't call it "stuck" for nothing! With this new approach of using spatial metaphors to embrace the complexity of emotional baggage, I got a picture of where stuck places are at that makes sense of the difficulty of getting out of them.
Imagine a place next to a stuck place that is easily accessible, but very unappealing. We can go there, but don't want to. Our experiences with leaving the stuck place and ending up there have seemed worse than staying stuck. We talk about this place next to a stuck place as:
- Going from the frying pan into the fire
- Leaving our comfort zones to experience major discomfort
- Entering the lion's den in search of safety
- Going from a constant mood to becoming anxiety-ridden, tormented and restless
When we've moved out of the stuck place in this way, we've only made a first order change. We've remained on the same level where the problem was created. We've gone for a ride on the merry-go-round. We've opted for oscillation instead of resolution of the opposing tensions. We're using cognitive strategies that work great for routine actions, but suck at getting unstuck. We've become as reliable as a rubber stamp or cookie cutter, instead of creatively thinking outside the box.
The situation calls for making a different move at a deeper level. It's time to drop down instead of moving out of the stuck place. Down below there are other changes we can make before trying to get unstuck. Here are a few to work though with the support of others who have been there:
- Letting go of opinions about people, incidents and prospects to consider lots of varied interests, connections and interactions
- Abandoning positional stances to explore the underlying function of a literal form, the inherent essence of an explicit desire and the intrinsic significance of obvious facts
- Dismantling fixations by adding complications, nuances, criteria and refinements
- Translating idealized, perfectionistic goals into more feasible, practical and implementable objectives
When we go there, different exits open up. We can leave the stuck place through the openings created at this deeper level. We delve below what we're clinging to and insisting upon to end up in a much better place. We give ourselves a gift of freedom with a little help from true friends.