August 24


The Secret to Getting “Unstuck”

Have you ever felt stuck in a bad spot in a relationship, project, or job? Have you ever felt stuck at the same weight, fitness level, body composition? Have you ever felt stuck at the same level of stress or unhappiness in your life? Well, there’s a reason that people get stuck, and the answer to getting “unstuck” might surprise you!

The reason behind getting stuck is almost always anger, fear or guilt. We may not outwardly appear to be afraid or consciously feel guilty about something. However, there is most certainly something that we have done, experienced or been told in the past that is causing us to hold on to our current status. Deep in our mind, there is a thought process or belief that changing our current behavior is bad.

I would like to focus this article on the case where there is a recent event that we consciously remember. This can be a mistake that we have made or something that we have said or done. On the flipside, it could be that somebody else has done something to us that makes us feel angry, violated, or afraid.

I acknowledge that being stuck may not be related to a recent event but rather caused by past limiting beliefs. This article will not discuss overcoming hidden limiting beliefs. To learn more about limiting beliefs, grab a copy of my book, The Elephant and the Boy.”

If it is something that we have done, we tend to beat ourselves up over and over again. We replay the situation in our head, and tell ourselves how bad, insensitive or stupid we were. The event knocks down our self-esteem and holds us back.

If on the other hand, someone else harmed or violated us or our family, we rightfully feel angry. Unfortunately, we tend to hold on to that anger. We are mad at the other person and are perhaps afraid they might hurt us again. This fear and anger keep us stuck.

The Surprising Answer

The answer is forgiveness. That’s right. To get unstuck, we have to forgive ourselves and others. I know this seems surprising, but there is tremendous power in forgiveness. When we forgive, we let go of the negative emotions that weigh us down. We feel relieved and lighter. In some cases, we feel healed.

If we made the mistake, we need to forgive ourselves. If someone else hurt us, we need to forgive them. Perhaps, we are angry that we let the other person hurt us. In this case, we need to forgive our self and the other person. Forgive yourself for your actions and forgive others for theirs.

You may hear a voice in your head that says: “I don’t want to forgive them!” or “I can’t forgive myself for what I’ve done!” These are natural reactions. What they represent however is the fear of letting go. Staying in our current position while painful is still safe. However, holding on to these emotions keeps us stuck. By not letting go, we replay the event over and over holding ourselves back from moving forward.

When we learn more about what forgiveness is and is not, letting go becomes easier. You see, forgiveness is not about letting past events happen again. Forgiveness is not a free pass to make the same mistake. It is not a “Get Out of Jail Free Card” for the person who hurt us. Forgiveness is about letting go of the negative emotions that keep us stuck. Forgiveness is about moving forward.

3 Principles of Forgiveness

Here are three principles of forgiveness that will help in moving forward:

1. Forgiveness is for you. The benefits of forgiveness are for you and not other people. When we hold on to negative emotions such as fear, anger, guilt, and shame, they hurt us not other people. Negative emotions carry negative vibrations or frequency and prevent good things from coming into our life. The more we hold on to negative emotions of the past, the more we prevent positive experiences from happening in the future.

2. Forgiving does not mean forgetting. If someone harms us, we need to forgive them but that doesn’t mean we forget. We can remember what they have done and act accordingly in the future. The same goes for our own behavior. We can remember our mistakes and change our behavior in the future.

3. Boundaries make us feel safe. In feudal times, people built walls around their cities for protection. In the same way, setting healthy boundaries will protect us from future harm. Set boundaries with relationships, with work parameters, or environments that trigger bad behavior. The key is to set a boundary that will allow you to move forward and get back to living.

The Weight of Negative Emotions

Anger, guilt, shame, and fear serve their purpose. They are tools that help regulate our behavior. However, they are heavy tools. Just like a sledgehammer, we should use it when we need it and then put it away. Holding on to negative emotions like anger and guilt is like carrying a sledgehammer everywhere we go. All it does is wear us down and hold us back. If we want to move down the path of life or climb our next mountain, we need let go of the sledgehammer. Forgiveness is the way to do that.


Getting stuck in life is normal. Generally, this happens when we have done something bad or somebody has done something bad to us. Negative emotions such as anger, fear, shame, guilt, and regret are normal feelings that have their place. Acknowledge those feelings and then let them go. Forgiveness is the way to do that. Forgive yourself and others. Remember that forgiving is not forgetting. Use the memory of past events to change future behavior. Finally, set boundaries to protect yourself from making the same mistake or letting the same person hurt you again. This will allow you to receive the benefits of forgiveness without the worry.

Bruce Fleck, PhD

About the Bruce Fleck, PhD

I help professionals overcome a health, career, or relationship crisis and make it a turning point for building a better life.

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