Meet “Jonathan.” Mid-thirties. Military guy. Totally unfulfilling work. Comes home every night exhausted by the ennui. He dreams of working in the music industry but can’t bring himself to do anything about it. So he just continues in the same dreadful routine for years. Stuck.

Then along comes Alan. He tells Jonathan that he will help him pursue his dream. And then he actually does. A year later, Jonathan is having the time of his life. It is now 20 years later and he’s never looked back. Unstuck.

We constantly run into this malady we call “stuckness.” (Is that even a word? According to spellcheck it isn’t but we’re using it anyway.) This describes the inability to shake oneself free of unhealthy and unhappy patterns in life, and it is epidemic. Characterized by feelings of frustration, acedia, apathy and despair, it is enervating as all get out. Stuck in places and sequences that don’t renew, that feel purposeless and that we can’t seem to break out of. We want more than anything to break the cycle. We even feel very motivated to do something about it at times but…we just…can’t…pull it off. So, we settle back into our routines of life and hope that one day things will change. Yet they never do.

How do we get unstuck?

First of all, take hope. We’ve seen a lot of people get unstuck. A lot!

Second, recognize that it is nearly impossible to do by yourself. If someone has done it by their own sheer will power, we haven’t met him. Getting unstuck begins with the confession that we can’t do it alone. That should produce a huge sigh of relief. Isn’t step one in Alcoholic’s Anonymous to acknowledge that by yourself you are powerless?

Within both of our faith traditions lies the notion that all journeys of transformation begin with the recognition that we human beings are “poor in spirit.” In other words, we can’t help or save ourselves. We need help.

Third, ask for help. Those resources can come from a lot of places. We both like to think that it begins by looking upward. But there is also a horizontal component to it. We need each other. We have walked alongside people for long stretches until they could finally walk on their own. Oftentimes, that’s what it takes.

Getting unstuck means, at the very least, confessing to someone that we are stuck and we need his or her help. This could be a friend, a family member, a trusted co-worker, a doctor, a therapist, a clergyperson, etc. It must be someone who is committed to helping you and keeping you accountable.

Fourth, don’t allow fear to rule in your heart. Keep in mind an exciting visual of where you want to go and share it with those you love. Proceed with the joyful anticipation of wonderful, long-overdue change. Be forewarned: The process of becoming unstuck is very energizing and exciting.

In our field of work, we like to say, “All things are possible, if you only believe!” Go for it!!

Click here to purchase Rabbi Daniel Cohen’s book, What Will They Say About You When You Are Gone?

Related Articles