Transformation Part XVII: Being Through With “Stuck”.

Transformation is not a one-off event. It is a mindset, a new way of living that is intentional and continuous. We are now up to Step#14 in Transformation – I will continuously and relentlessly reassess my situation, set new goals, embrace new experiences, abandon old and ineffective paradigms and tirelessly seek to further my understanding of life and my place in this world.

The message of this step is simple and clear. You will refuse to become stuck.

I see so many of my patients and friends who cannot move forward in life because they are stuck in the past, holding fast to some prior act or event. It is so easy to let this happen. It is seductive because it is a stance that is effortless to maintain.

I have been stuck before, holding on like grim death to my addiction to alcohol. There was no way for me to move forward in life, to advance, to evolve or to become something other as long as I was actively addicted. Changing, in my case becoming sober, took a lot of effort.

It is no different with a traumatic event like an act of violence, war, a death, a failure, a betrayal, a great financial loss, a toxic relationship. All of these can result in the individual becoming stuck unless the trauma of the event can be adequately dealt with which often requires a lot of effort and sometimes a lot of pain.

Sad to say that some can actually be taught to become stuck and stay that way. Children will emulate their parents. Even if their behavior is undesirable. I have seen generationally stuck individuals who have never felt that they have had the ability to change their circumstances. It breaks the heart.

Some people get stuck in the present. There are those that start a lot of projects but never seem to complete any of them. They lack clarity and focus. It is not that they don’t work hard, they do. But they have no plan for completion as they never complete one thing before they have moved on to something else, jumping from one project to the next.

Others that are stuck in the present are biding time for various reasons while they work at jobs that they absolutely deplore. They wait on the right break, the right moment, the right piece of luck, the right opportunity, the right idea, the right audience or for when they have enough money or enough time. I hear “when I retire…” all of the time. It never seems to happen in retirement either.

People can also become stuck in the future. These are the frenetic idea generating planner people. They love making plans, dreaming big and laying out future scenarios for their success. The only problem is they never plan to start and so they never do.

Their short term happiness is derived from the idea of becoming successful rather than from the actual work that is required. They literally get high from the brainstorming which is the nature of their addiction.

The moment they begin to think of implementing one of their plans they lose their interest buzz and sober up to reality. Then it becomes time to plan again, over and over again. They are stuck in the future.

The basis for all of these states of being stuck is fear and most often that fear is of failure. If we could only teach our children and re-teach all of our adults about the glorious gift of failure and all of the success that it will bring, we would have a much different world. The only useful fears we should harbor are the fears of not trying and of not doing.

This fourteenth step is a call to continuous intentional action to un-stick oneself and to stay that way. Staying unstuck requires a lifetime of vigilance.

Are you stuck? If so, are you stuck in the past, present or future? What are some tools you might use to become unstuck? Please return here soon for the last installment in the Transformation Series.

Written by

Clark Gaither, MD

2 Comments to “Transformation Part XVII: Being Through With “Stuck”.”

  1. Denise Dees says:

    I have enjoyed everyone of your Transformation blogs. This one really hit my heart.
    As a child I suffered from low self-image and overcautiousness. Perhaps, more accurately, I could have been called fearful and anxious. Mainly because I was fearful that I would make a mistake and not be accepted. So I kept to myself. In my heart I admired those who were poised in public and could speak articulately, and often I longed to be able to do so myself. But the more I thought about it, the greater my fear. I began to realize that my fears and anxieties were self imposed. God’s choice for me was to have power, love and self-discipline. God did not give me the spirit of fear! As God began to help me with my fearfulness, my own self image began to improve. It was obvious that God was changing me. Many years later, I can say “Thank you, Lord” for what he has done for me. I would not want to go back to the former Denise for anything in the world. And the greatest thing is that God is not finished with me yet!!! He is still teaching me to love myself and others. He can create new life, and give strength. I never need fear that I have not taken him along. Thank you for your dedication Clark in helping me see things in me that I need to change.

    • Clark Gaither, MD Clark Gaither, MD says:

      Thank you Denise for your encouraging comments. I think you are right, the biggest obstacle we often face is ourselves. Fear is such a big immobilizer for people. It is something that can be changed, though, as you have found. This week’s podcast is on the topic of FEAR. It will post on Friday at

  2. [...] Build self-awareness. Stay in touch with how you feel. Suppressing negative emotions is not adequately dealing with them. People often avoid painful feelings because, well, they’re painful. But, when you feel ready it is best to face emotional pain head on in order move on. If negative emotions aren’t dealt with adequately they will just keep reappearing and leave you stuck. [...]

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