Feeling Stuck in Life? 10 Powerful Ways to Free Yourself

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Are you feeling stuck in life? Many people do. Sometimes it feels as if we simply cannot move on with our life. As if there was something that kept us from pursuing our dreams. Consequently, we feel limited and simply do not know what to do. We have no idea how to break free from the limitations that are imposed upon us. What is worse, we do not even know what it is that imposes these limitations on us. It’s quite scary to be confronted with an invisible obstacle you cannot seem to tackle. Even though the situation may seem hopeless, there’s much you can do about it. In fact, there are a variety of highly efficient tactics and powerful tricks you can use to free yourself from being stuck in a rut.

There’s an interesting aspect to the feeling of being stuck. Many people who report that they’re feeling overwhelmed, confused or stuck in a rut are—in many cases—quite talented, intelligent and ambitious. In fact, various brilliant people found themselves stuck in life, ranging from Albert Einstein to Walt Disney. These prominent examples show us that people who are feeling stuck in life still have the potential to accomplish a great deal in life IF they are able to overcome what is holding them back.

Feeling stuck in life

Feeling stuck in life can seem as if you’re not moving forward, even when you move.

If you do not know how to precisely tackle the issue, breaking free from feeling stuck in life can be really difficult. The harder you try to get out of it, the more you’re getting stuck. That’s the big problem with being stuck in a rut. It gradually weakens your strength to get unstuck. The situation is comparable to the attempt of breaking free from quicksand. The more you struggle, the deeper you’ll get in it. But if you do know that the only way out of quicksand is to stop panicking, to lie on your back and to drag your feet out, the obstacle can be overcome.

The same holds true for feeling stuck in life. If you’re thinking really hard about your situation, you’ll find yourself walking around in a circle. It will get you nowhere. But like a comic figure that keeps walking around in circles, you’ll only create an ever deeper (mental) groove. There’s no point in overthinking the problem. In fact, continuously pondering about the problem will only get you deeper into the groove.

Breaking Free from Feeling Stuck in Life

So what you can you do to get unstuck? As we have already established, you won’t be able to break free by digging deeper. What is necessary is to find another approach that helps us to address the underlying issue.

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
E.M. Forster

It doesn’t matter so much what obstacle is blocking your progress. What matters is that you learn to move forward despite being confronted with challenges. You have all the power you need to take the necessary steps to break out of the rut. However, every fiber of your body must be willing to effect this change. Breaking free from whatever holding you back is always a choice. Take this choice and learn to gain more control over your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.

Here’s what you can do to free yourself from being stuck in a rut.

1. Face your fears

People are unable to move forward because they are afraid.

Whatever we fear limits us. In many cases, fear prohibits us from making any further progress in life. We’re afraid of the unknown, which is why we (unconsciously) sabotage our own development. We learn to accept the situation we find ourselves in. It simply seems more comfortable to remain where we are than to move on. Living a life without risks might seem a logical thing to do. But after a certain time, we become so used to our comfort zone that it’ll be difficult to ever break free from it. Slowly but surely, we begin to realize that this habit led us to become stuck in life.

At some point in life, we simply became afraid of going any further. We gave in to our fears. We allowed fear to stop our progress in life.

If we want to get unstuck, it’s important to change how we perceive our fears. We might not be able to stop being afraid of that which is to come, but we can learn to control our fears:

  • Acknowledge your fears, but do not allow them to limit you.
  • Seek to confront that which you are afraid of.
  • Running away from your fears will most likely make things worse.
  • Keep pushing forward in spite of your fears.
  • Don’t allow your fear of losing what you have to stop you from moving on.
  • Be not afraid of the work and time it takes to affect change.
  • Feel your fear and do it anyway.

Everyone on this planet, and I mean really everyone, has fears. It’s not something to be ashamed of. Instead, try to think about the worst possible outcome of that which is causing your anxiety. While you think about this outcome, try to realize that even if the worst-case scenario were to happen, you would still be able to find a way out.

There’s no need to be afraid of failure. Be concerned about not having the courage to try.

If you really want to initiate positive change in your life, let go of the feeling that you are helpless. Do not allow your perceived powerlessness discourage you from making a change in your life. Most likely, it’s just your fear trying to persuade you to do nothing about your situation.

2. Break your routine

Feeling stuck in life can be the result of unhealthy and restraining routines.

Developing a routine can be quite beneficial. It helps you to keep moving when the going gets tough. The development of habits will aid you to do quite complex things with the greatest ease. As such, routines provide you a fundament and structure you can work with.

While it’s certainly true that routine is helpful, it can also limit your progress in life. It can develop into restrictive rules and obligations difficult to break. Yet, we willingly abide these rules, because they give us a sense of security and control.

Moving on in life, however, requires us to break the existing structures from time to time. Breaking the rules gives us the opportunity to explore something out of the ordinary. It helps us to discover something new, surprising and exciting.

  • Expand your horizon. Do something new every day.
  • Avoid time-wasting and mindless routines. They prohibit your progress.
  • Routinely break your routine. Make it a habit of exploring the unknown.

Break restricting routines whenever they need to be broken. Overcoming that what you’ve always done is really important. It will help you to break free from feeling stuck in life. Breaking out of the ordinary allows us to unstuck ourselves from everything that is keeping us behind. There is so much to be found outside your usual routine, you’ll only need the courage to explore it.

3. Effect change, one step at a time

If you’re feeling stuck in life, it’s important to overcome that which prevents you from moving forward. This might sound simple in theory, but it can become quite a struggle in real life. In fact, most people get overwhelmed by their attempts to break free from a rut. To them, it will seem as if they do everything they can, without ever accomplishing something.

For this reason, it’s not so important how much you do, but how you go about affecting change. Make sure to maintain your motivation by keeping a constant level of change. It’s better to tackle one problem after another than half-heartedly trying to address everything simultaneously. Not only will the sheer size of the problem overwhelm you, but it could also make you reluctant to truly free yourself.

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.
Confucius

Just don’t be too hard on yourself. Try to stick to one problem until it is solved. One problem after another. This way you can affect positive changes in your life step-by-step.

4. Overcome the perception of impossibilities

Feeling stuck in life can leave us not knowing what to do. It paralyzes us and diminishes our ability to see exciting new opportunities. Instead, we feel as if the options at hand are impossible to execute. We are torn between seemingly impossible options.

If every solution you can think of seems impossible to accomplish, you’ll get even more stuck. It’s an overwhelming situation. On one hand, you want to do something to affect change. On the other hand, everything that comes to mind seems unrealistic or impossible. As a result, you’re being pulled apart by multiple options that do not seem helpful to you.

Even though your situation may seem hopeless at times, there’s always something you can do about it. True impossibilities are very rare. It’s more likely that you’re simply overwhelmed by having too many choices.

As you can see, our thinking patterns can greatly contribute to the feeling of being stuck. If we think every option we have is impossible, no progress can be made. It’s our inflexibility what keeps us stuck. We might overthink the situation in our desperate attempt to maintain control over our life.

Instead of getting trapped by these thinking patterns, try to explore your options. It’s very likely that you already know a lot of directions you could move in. If that’s the case, try to find the one solution that you like the most and commit to the decision.

5. Be honest with yourself

Multiple times in my life I concluded, “My life is stuck.” Interestingly enough, I did not only know the reason for being stuck, I also knew—deep within myself—what I needed to do about my situation. The problem wasn’t so much that I couldn’t find a solution. Quite the contrary, there were many solutions and opportunities. I simply couldn’t come up with the necessary courage to implement one of these.

If we do want to break free from being stuck, it’s necessary to be honest with ourselves.

Astonishingly, we almost always have the answer within ourselves. It might take some time to discover it, but it’s always there. The problem is that we do not act upon this knowledge. We prefer to keep this answer locked within ourselves.

Have the courage to at least think about the possible solution. It might be challenging to even consider acknowledging that you took a wrong path in life. But ultimately, it might prove to be better than suffering from this decision for the rest of your life.

6. Change your perspective

When we feel stuck in life, we most certainly do not have a good overview of the situation. Unfortunately, the feeling of being stuck in a rut can heavily affect our perception of life. Instead of seeing a great deal of the broader perspective, our mind is imprisoned in a tiny little box.

It’s time to broaden your perspective!

Often times, we get stuck in life because we do not allow ourselves to become who we want to be. Instead, we adapt to the role various people expect us to play. We do not like it, but deep down we are convinced that it’s impossible to realize these dreams.

Time to break these negative beliefs.

Stop walking the same path you’ve always chosen. Explore new perspectives by taking other paths. Ask yourself what your real goals are. Explore what you’re passionate about. Discover what it is that truly energizes you. Find your true purpose in life. Challenge yourself to have a vision for your life.

All these things can fuel your motivation in the most astonishing ways. Discovering your vision and the pursuit of your passions can create a powerful drive. It can help you to liberate yourself from the vicious circle of being stuck.

By having the coverage to live your authentic self, you will liberate yourself.

7. Differentiate between feeling and fact

You feel as if you’re stuck in life. Therefore, you conclude that you cannot move on. Sometimes, however, our emotions might not be telling the (entire) truth. The inability to get unstuck may feel very real, but in the end, it’s just a feeling. And this very feeling creates our perception of the situation.

For this reason, it’s important to remind yourself that feelings are not facts. Try to look at your situation more objectively. Emotional responses might cloud your perception of reality. Feeling stuck in life could be a response to exaggerated expectations or mere fantasies.

Perhaps, if the situation is not that bad at all. It’s simply external influences that make you think you’re not moving on with life.

8. Avoid blaming others

It’s relatively easy to blame others when we feel stuck. While this is a great strategy to maintain peace of mind, it will contribute nothing to the solution of your problem. In the worst case, blaming others will get you even more stuck.

In almost every situation of life, you’ll most likely find someone else to blame. This person might give you the substitute sensation of having solved the problem. But in reality, nothing is solved.

Even though you’d like to find an external cause for your situation, try to seek that cause within yourself first. Try to take control over your life by not seeking the fault for your problems in others.

9. Stop comparing yourself to others

While it’s a natural tendency to compare yourself to other people, it’s not the best thing to do. While we think we compare ourselves in an objective manner, quite the contrary is the case. Our measures are superficial and unfair. In most situations, we take our weakest spots and compared these with people who are above-average in this area.

These comparisons are really not helpful. We’re simply too individual to compare ourselves with another. If you’re feeling stuck in life, try not to measure your life’s worth based on other people’s accomplishments. Measure your life based upon your own standards. Don’t just mindlessly adopt society’s definition of success, find your very own.

10. Stop making excuses

Excuses keep us from moving forward in life.

If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.
Jim Rohn

Do not allow excuses to keep you right where you are. Stop trying to rationalize why you can’t get on with your life. Don’t focus on all the different reasons that keep you stuck. Shift your attention to what needs to be done to effect positive change.

In the end, the only one that is holding you back is yourself. Do not fall prey to the mistake of focusing all your attention on lousy excuses. Look for the steps you can take that will get you out of your situation.

11. Be grateful for what you have

We sometimes feel as if we’re not moving forward when we think we haven’t yet accomplished enough in life. As a result, we’re quite frustrated about our situation. If we do not succeed as much as we desire, it can feel as if we’re stuck in life.

Developing the habit of being grateful can help you to ease the feeling of being stuck. It helps us to rediscover what is beautiful about our life. Gratitude can also enable us to find what makes our life worth living. As a positive side effect, we spent a lot less time chasing evermore. Instead, we learn to find joy and fulfillment in everything we already have.

Ultimately, this is the way to truly relief yourself from the feeling of not being able to move on. So take yourself some time to count your blessings. Appreciate everything you’ve been given.

I hope you enjoyed this article about the 11 ways to break free from feeling stuck in life.

Stay victorious!


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About Author

Steve is the founder of Planet of Success, the #1 choice when it comes to motivation, self-growth and empowerment. This world does not need followers. What it needs is people who stand in their own sovereignty. Join us in the quest to live life to the fullest!

79 Comments

  1. Hi Steve,

    I really resonate with differentiating feeling from fact. I think a lot of the time people let their emotions guide all of their decisions and how they handle things.

    Your feelings can tell you a lot about how you feel or perceive something. But it doesn’t mean that’s exactly how things are.

    I used to allow my feelings to dictate how I handle things and since I stopped doing that things have been much better and I’ve been able to get farther.

    Great points!

    ~Lea

    • Thanks Lea!

      You raise great points. And I think in the end, it’s important to find a healthy balance between meeting decisions based on logic but also a certain amount of your gut feeling.

  2. Hey Steve, don’t remember how I found your article but so grateful I did. I have been feeling this way for such a long time. I’ve read so many articles searching for some guidance and I finally found one that relate directly to how I feel.

    • I guess we all do in certain stages of our life. But what is important is that we find effective ways to unstuck ourselves and to keep moving forward. I’m really glad that the article resonated with you.

  3. Very relevant and soo true… Obstacles are necessary for success because in all careers of importance,victory comes only after countless defeats and struggles.

  4. Number nine is incredibly important, but it’s a hard habit to break. Not comparing yourselves to others is difficult to stop doing, but it’s very freeing when you can finally do so. Your only competition is yourself, really. Instead of focusing on being better than others, just focus on being better than you were yesterday.

    • I’m happy to hear that you like the strategies of getting yourself unstuck. I wish you all the best and keep fighting for it, then you’ll keep going much quicker than you thought.

  5. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this important subject. Always good to have a neat strategy on freeing yourself from a slump.

  6. Kudos to you, that’s a great list and I really can see artists can help so many people to free themselves of being mentally stuck in life.

  7. Thank you Steve this is what I needed. Life is like going up and going down. Good to have these kind of guides for the downtimes.

  8. You point out some good ideas. I will print that one out for my personal collection, you never know when you get stuck in life.

    • Hi Ethan, what I always recommend is that you start slow, meaning step-by-step. Getting yourself unstuck might look like a terribly daunting task, just like you feel when you’re standing in front of a huge mountain that you want to climb. But the good thing is that you don’t have to do all of this in an instant. So don’t feel overwhelmed by it. What you want to do is to gradually implement one idea after another. That way you can accomplish good progress without overwhelming yourself. All it takes is the very first step to get yourself in motion. Often times, this one is the most difficult. So whatever you do force yourself to make this first and initial step. After that, you only have to pay attention that you stay in motion. That’s all it takes. So just give your best to keep going and the results will be astonishing. Remember, what you want to accomplish is to break yourself free from a negative “habit/thinking process/behavior”, which might take some time. But if you pursue your goal of getting yourself unstuck with a sharp mind you can make it. I’m sure that and I know that you can make it. I wish you the best of luck.

      • Love your article… you have clearly defined the meaning of “stuck in a rut”. Been three years and I have tried to feee myself from this circle of going no where. I moved from one state to the next. I worked and survived. Now, I feel more stuck than ever: 1) no car 2) no job {trust me, I applied. I am either too quantified or not qualified, and I have a degree in education, hmm?}. 3) My friend kindly offered me to stay with him. The only thing that’s FREE is rent, he even paying for the groceries til I get situated. Now that he has feelings for me, I am NOT only feeling stuck. I feel trapped! How can you get “unstuck” when you don’t have money to move forward???? Money plays a huge role here and I know if I can work I can save and then I can move out of his place for good, however, how can I implement anything when everything is co trolled by the person who has money and I don’t?

  9. Great article, I agree with all the points!

    I’m a big fan of facing fears, and when you get stuck that can be really helpful because it will enable you to go places you’ve never been to before, which gets us to the next point of breaking the routine (facing fears will make you break your routine no matter what!).

    One thing to add is when you stuck you need to do things a bit differently to fix how you feel. One of the best ways to do this is through knowledge and small disciplined actions. I mean go and learn something new, read articles like this one, read books or whatsoever, and then start applying your new (and old) knowledge in the shape of small disciplines repeated everyday.

    Thanks for sharing this Steve, all the best 🙂

  10. I feel stuck. I don’t know where to start and I feel like life is passing me by and I could do so much more. I’ve always wanted to go to medical school until someone told me my grades weren’t enough. That hurt me so i started to look into why i wanted to go and it was because doctors make money. So I decided to do plan B and try for physician assistant, none of the 10 schools accepted me because of my gpa. Plan C is now pediatric nursing or physical therapist but I’m not sure if I’m meant to do neither. I discovered that I don’t like having bosses or working in an office all day doing papers. I love being free, being able to do what I want and not having a boss tells me what I keep doing wrong. I love working with kids and I’m currently a VPK teacher but I don’t like all of the paperwork, and the stress of always following policies and paying for what another employee did (when one person does something, all of the teachers end up suffering the consequence). I know it sounds like I don’t like my job, I love working with the kids and seeing their progress but the rules that we have to follow at all times is what makes me unhappy. I feel stuck because I don’t know where to go, which path to take. I want to be able to take vacations more often, not just one week out of the whole year. I guess I want to be able to work but not feel like it’s draining be. Like I should be excited going to work, not dreading it and have to be watching my back at all times. I’m trying to see what I should do, where I should go but I still feel stuck. In a way I’d love to work from home or at least work my own hours, be my own boss, be able to travel more often, not worrying abt money, get my own place and be able to afford it. I’m 26 by the way. Some days I feel like I know what to do but I always question it.

    • From what you’ve written, I feel that teaching is what you enjoy doing the most. Now regarding the problems you’re facing at your workplace, I think it’s incredibly difficult to find a job without these kind of problems. As a doctor, for instance, you would also have to follow strict or even much stricter guidelines in your day-to-day life. So the first recommendation would be to learn to deal with these kind of negative aspects of your job in a more beneficial manner. The second recommendation would be to figure out if these problems are severe enough to seek a new employer. If you think that you can teach somewhere else with a not less problems, you may want to consider applying for these jobs. In my opinion, entirely seeking a new profession would only make things much more complicated – especially if you have already found a profession that you truly enjoy.

  11. Thanks for sharing your list – I think it is a really good one. Another thing I’d add is that often getting unstuck begins with having a difficult conversation, sometimes with yourself (perhaps a combination of suggestion #3 and #5). In fact, I wrote some about the topic last month. If you’re interested, you can view my post here. Again, thank you for sharing!

  12. I know how to live and what I am passionate about. But these things require a good amount of money. I wasted a lot of time in college just to get a degree – the road was tough and I became ill aswell. In the end I did not make much progress towards the life I want. Just learned to be content with less. But the less aspect is driving me insane at times. I just don’t know what steps to take even with the degree. Please give me some advice. I also don’t have family or friends to back me up. Sommuch time goes into daily chores, leaving me exhausted at the end of the week.. Feeling so prisoned.

    • Hi Sean,

      I think being content with less is quite an important lesson to learn. It can free you from burdening yourself with materialistic expectations. It can also play a great role in setting yourself free. However, I believe it takes regular motivation to maintain this kind of contentedness, for instance by reading articles about minimalistic living etc.

      Regarding the fact that you think you have wasted a lot of time in college: it is all about perspective. Yes, one can think that the time at school is a waste simply because you are not out there making money. In my case, I’ve studied for more than five years. Economically, I could have made a lot more money if I had worked during this time. At the same time, there are many aspects that make this time in valuable for me. For instance, I built this website during this time – something I wouldn’t have done if I had to work. So try to see the positive aspects of your time in college. Maybe you have grown as a person, which is also pretty significant.

      You also mentioned that you feel imprisoned. In my experience, there can be many downtimes to life and these stages can last for many years. What is important is to continuously work yourself out of these situations. Take one step after the other until you have completely transformed your life.

      Regarding your daily chores, try to cut back wherever you can. Focus only on those activities that provide you the greatest outcome. Reduce every other activity that is not contributing to your goal in life. Secondly, try to slowly change your attitude towards a more positive one. It could be helpful to read motivational books or books that discuss positive thinking. And whatever you do, never give up but always keep going.

  13. The bible says “For we live by faith, not by sight”, For we walk by faith, not by sight”. As believers, we are suppose to be guided by the inward person (spirit person, the heart person). You’ll never get to where you want to go if you’re lead by emotions or feelings. I have personally experienced this myself. They knocked me off the path that I should be on right now. As the offensive line protects/provides time for the quarterback to find an open wide receiver, allow the captain of the ship to move the rudder which guides the ship to destination. Meaning, let peace guide you when making the right decisions. Do not beat yourself up if you have missed it. The good news is that you can get back on the path of life by letting peace be your guide.

  14. How does your articles meets with the feeling they may come to any persons mind that he is not blessed or ment to be fortunate from God, so there is no use of trying anything also you observe that fake and bad people are fortunate and blessed but hard working and good ones are not ?

    Cheers

  15. This was a wonderful read. It basically highlighted all my current feelings and how to go about making positive changes.

    I don’t know why, but somehow I always think I need to attempt multiple things at a time and I think that has lead to my demise on several occasions.

    I thank you for writing this article, esp the part about blaming others.

  16. To be honest, I currently neither have dreams, nor do I think that there is anything like a “purpose in life”. I think we (humans) are just a completely meaningless species on a completely meaningless piece of rock drifting through space, living our meaningless lives in a vast and unbelievable empty universe. And what makes it even worse… is that what I just wrote is not just what *I* think, not just a “belief”, but an objective fact presented by the current state of science. Unfortunately. Sorry to disappoint anybody.
    We as individuals have approximately 80 years (in many countries even less) on this strange planet between birth and death. On a geological timescale this is just a short glimpse for each individual – what makes us and our life even more meaningless.
    And if that wasn’t enough – most of us fill the space inbetween with… complete nonsense.

    But the interesting thing is: In this blog I see a cultural pattern shining through every line of text – a cultural pattern that seems to be an illness of this whole modern world:. “Whooo, it is *so* important that we all live ‘successful’ lives.”, “We always have to aim high, reach the sky”, “If you only pursue your dreams, you will get happiness forever.”, “We always have to improve everything.”, “It is completely impossible to stay where we are.”, bla-bla-bla.
    It is a pattern that is hard to see if you’re into this complete “personality development”-stuff, and especially if you have been brainwashed by the cultural matrix of main parts of the western civilization from day one of your life on. Here is news for you: You can aim as high as you want, you can achieve whatever you want, you can reach any goal you want, but in the END you will still be DEAD. Stone-dead. And if you have reached that state, it is completely irrelevant what you have done/tried/made/achieved before. It has just been stroking your ego – the ego that seems to be able to ignore *exactly this* fact – that one it will not be longer in existance.

    So “feeling stuck in life” … wtf? Come on. Is that *really* a problem? In other parts of the world where people are starving to death every day they would be *happy* to have this kind of problems. It’s completely irrelevant when stepping back and looking from a broader scale. Just as irrelevant as every one of us and the whole human race. (*sigh* … the race whose thoughts and (pseudo-)problems I think I will never be really able to understand.)

    • hi everybody, i just wanna say that what you talk about is an influence of so called “the popular culture” as there is no such thing “being stuck” in this life, everything is about chance which is mathematically is a combination and please believe in science and not dogma(S) as its impossible for everyone to be successful, rich, handsome and beautiful at the same time and why everybody needs’em. If you wanna understand the real shit, please pay a visit mental hospital , graveyard and a jail, upon completion of your each trip , you will see the bigger picture and you will be thankful to be alive. By the way “MRT”, i did like your article, thank you , would like to read more from you.

  17. In the big scheme of things we may not matter, but this is my life and it matters to me. Well, I guess we all deal with our problems differently. MRT you beautifully put my issue of feeling “stuck” in prospective. Instantly put me in a good mood. Yes, you are right, my problem is small however it is still a problem for me. We are human beings and it is in our genes that we want to better ourselves. Thank you Steve for the insightful advice. At times we all need help and reaching out for help is the first step towards changing our situations.

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