Mindfulness Based Strengths Development for Individuals & Groups

Five Rules for Staying Stuck – How to Maintain Perpetual Frustration with an Unsatisfying Life

Living your dream and fulfilling your life purpose is overrated, isn’t it? Being stuck sure has its advantages. Those of us who sit in perpetual stuck-ness never have to take responsibility for our choices. We never have to be wrong. It’s easier to refrain from choosing a direction, rather than take a risk or begin the tedious process of investigating options. And even when we do that – investigate options – we probably still won’t have a clear indication where to go from there, so it really is a waste of time.

If we stay just where we are, there is no risk of not liking what we choose. We know we don’t like where we are right now, so who would want to exchange the consistency of disliking the present for the possibility of disliking the future?

And why rely on faith? Hey, we’re still stuck even though earnest prayers have been said and desperate tears shed.

Staying in perpetual frustration and feeling as though we are not living up to our potential feels much better than risking the rejection of friends, family and society at large. Protecting oneself from the projected emotional tyranny of others, as we step out into our true selves, can feel safer than dismissing what’s not supportive and carrying on toward our goals.


To ensure current stuck-status, here are some important rules to follow:

1 – Stay busy like a butterfly

Be sure to have a lot of trivial things to do and become distracted easily. For instance, go buy a pack of gum on your lunch break, or check out game scores during the few minutes of downtime at the office. You could jot down the group fitness classes at the gym on the remote chance you’ll go after work. Perhaps you could drive through Starbucks for yet another latte (the third this week). And, you could, finally, finally, finally, clean up your office so you can be more organized. Be sure to get sidetracked half way through, so you end the time with stacks of papers everywhere that you won’t look at again . . . until it’s time to clean again.

Do not, under any circumstances, sit quietly for 10 minutes each morning. If you do, you may begin to develop the discipline to actually do what you say you want to do. After all, discipline comes from the root word, disciple, or “to learn” and you’d be learning what it takes to develop positive habits that have lasting effects, albeit indirectly. You may actually develop sufficiency in staying with something long enough for change to happen. This would mean bad business for the highly respectable, educated and experienced folks who offer solutions to getting unstuck. So don’t do it. Don’t sit quietly every day.


2 – Share the “being stuck” conundrum with others, daily if possible

To enforce feelings of frustration, be sure to connect with people to share about your inability, unwillingness or powerlessness to break free of your dilemma. Talk about how nothing works, even though you’ve tried many avenues for a week, or month, or year. Let them know that if you knew what to do, you’d definitely do it. You don’t like the stuck feeling. You feel as though you’re not the smart, savvy professional person you used to be. You used to be on fire and now, well, you may be washed-up, and you fall into depression because the way is so clearly blocked. If you knew what you’re destiny is, you would take the steps to get there. You just don’t know. You envy those lucky bastards who’ve known since they were a little what they wanted to be when they grew up.

So when you’re speaking with others, do not, under any circumstances, ask them about themselves. Don’t be so interested in helping someone that you forget yourself. Being inspired by the goals and direction of someone you respect may lead you to follow in their footsteps and that would not be good for the aim of staying right where you are. And yes, it may remind you that you are like them, and if you can recognize their worth, you yourself must have worth. That may mean you’re worthy of a satisfying life, even if you don’t know what that looks like. If you explore life’s possibilities by interviewing other people who may be doing any or all of what you have interest in, you may ignite a universal force that connects you and provides a light for you to follow. Don’t reach out though, unless it’s to talk about being stuck.


3 – Think the same thoughts, over and over again

When you’re not talking with someone about how stuck you are, allow yourself to ruminate. Play the tape again: how you need direction, more money, someway out of your current situation. A particularly good time to remind yourself about being stuck is when you’re driving, or in the shower, maybe before you go to sleep. Oh, and first thing in the morning, before you get out of bed, be sure to play it again Sam. Never mind asking for divine guidance for your day. Ruminate instead.

Another cool way to think the same thoughts is to think about what you could do, but what you don’t do. You know, you pass a For Lease sign and think about renting the space for that sandwich shop you’ve thought about for years. That will lead to thoughts about applying for those interesting jobs you’ve see online, or about writing your book, or moving to a house you love . . . Whatever those possibilities are, keep thinking about them, over and over again. You know you’ve a laundry list of possibilities that peak your interest from time to time, until they lose their juice and you’re back to the beginning.

Do not – I repeat – DO NOT – bring awareness to this incessant thinking. Do not choose another thought. Do not get quiet. Do not practice self-regulation of your awareness. Beware of your ability to change your thoughts because you’ll surely begin to change the “pattern of stuck”. Watch out because it starts slowly and it’s a bit sneaky. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself feeling some freedom, all because you allowed yourself some self-regulated thinking.


4 – Keep searching for a guru

There’s definitely. . . possibly . . . maybe . . . that expert out there that you just haven’t found yet. Seek him. Find her. Pay them lots and lots of money that you don’t have. Go to the find-your-golden-egg event at the luxury resort in sunny California. There’s that slim chance this could be the golden egg but that’s of little concern. Odds are against the egg. You’ll be able to tell people you’ve exhausted all options to find your path forward and have reached another impasse. You’ll even meet great people who are also searching and with whom you can keep the conversation going (see #2). You’ll add some golden egg-finding possibilities to ruminate over (see #3). So seek them out. Keep after that guru. They have the formula that is the key that opens your way to the future you’ve always wanted.

Whatever you do, please do not begin to search inside for clarity. Do not sit quietly every day and observe your thoughts, feelings and sensations with a sense of curiosity. Do not learn a thing about your tendencies by paying attention to your responses. Don’t be curious about other people and how they may be messengers for you. Ignore the synchronicities and don’t wait for the cloud formations to reveal themselves to you and spark your imagination. Banish creativity.


5 – Stay grounded in the material realm

Think only about what you don’t have and let go of any tugging at your heart or consciousness for the deeper meaning that is beyond life purpose. Think only about the superficial, watch lots of reality television and talk about what happened the next day. Gossip about celebrities and people at work. Look with envy at what you don’t have – the Audi, condo at the beach, hand-tailored clothes. Worry unceasingly about meeting your bills, saving for retirement, how the children will get through college and how you’ll get the dog to the vet. You may have to wash your own car but hey, more room for wishing for that Mercedez.

Whatever you do, do not allow your self-awareness to include attitudes of openness, curiosity or acceptance. Be wary of this last one. It’s the beginning of the end of stuck-ness. Remember to be pessimistic; always doubt there is a force greater than you to tap into. Oh, right. You’re human – an exception from the natural flow of the world. You’re not a river after all. No flow to you. Resist the temptation to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Resist the urge to take a break and allow yourself to be breathed and for thoughts to come through you. If you let go and allow yourself to be swept up in the flow of the unchanging world, you’ll surely begin to forget about being stuck and marvel at the absolute ingenuity of the Absolute.

The Absolute. Nah, be stuck.


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