Relationships aren’t steady things. They’re fluid and moving. They have to be, because people are always changing (in good or not-so-good ways). That should be expected, not surprising.
It feels awesome when we’re bounding forward, experiencing new things together, feeling super connected and happy. Those are good times. But it won’t stay like that forever. We get stuck in ruts, relationship groundhog days, repeating the same things over and over. That’s frustrating but at least it’s not hopeless. The really bad times are when we’ve fallen into a deep relationship hole and are stuck at the bottom.
Even in those worst moments though, there’s a way out. In my work as a relationship coach, I’ve found people get stuck in five places, and the best way to get unstuck is to take an action.
1. You’re not talking to the right people.
You have to talk about what’s going on with someone who will bear witness for you. You need a safe space to say, “Things are really bad right now.” You need someone to validate you. Most of the time, we don’t move until we feel seen and heard.
ACTION: Find an empathetic witness who will listen (and nothing more).
2. Nothing you’re trying is working.
It’s okay. We weren’t born good at relationships. It wasn’t included as part of your operating system. In fact, your past probably put you at a disadvantage – that’s pretty normal. Like everything else (health, work, parenting), we need training.
ACTION: Find a guide who can teach you what to do.
3. You’re learning but not doing.
At some point, you have to TRY the strategies you learn. People get stuck in the mental and emotional breakthrough phase, because it feels so good to finally understand what’s going on. That won’t make a darn bit of difference though, if you don’t do something. For example, let’s say you discovered you’re a teensy bit codependent. Great information to have about yourself! I bet all those podcasts, books, and youtube videos had some ideas for what to do about it, too. Try something. But whatever you do, don’t pick up another book.
ACTION: Commit to taking a step, even a small one.
4. What you tried didn’t work so you’ve given up.
Good relationships are always being edited. Try something and evaluate it. If it worked, great! Keep that. But if it didn’t, why not? What could you do next? Try something else. It’s not a failure to not get it right the first time.
ACTION: Commit to taking a new step.
5. You’re waiting for things to change.
You’ve tried everything and nothing has worked. This can happen. First, I hope you also got some professional help. Do that so you can rest peacefully knowing you did everything you could. Next, you’ve got two choices. Stay in the relationship and get comfortable with the reality you’re facing, or end it. That second option is usually pretty tough but can also be liberating.
ACTION: Make a choice to be in or out of the relationship.
Feeling stuck is one of the top reasons people end up contacting me for coaching, so if you’re feeling that way, please be gentle with yourself. It’s normal and happens to all of us.
Look through that list and identify where you’re stuck. Then, take the recommended action. You’ll start feeling better as soon as you do. Healthy action is full of hope. It’s the best remedy to feeling stuck.
If you can’t do it alone, there’s no shame in that. I, myself, have a coach to keep me moving forward. Therapy can be great too, but make sure you choose a good one. I meet too many people who get stuck in the talking and learning phases, because they aren’t pushed by their therapist to start DOING. That’s really important.
I believe in you, friend. You can do this!