On Being Stuck

Today I had lunch with a woman who asked the most heartbreaking, utterly sincere question:  “Why am I stuck?”

I probed, asking what she meant by “stuck” and she pretty much meant what it sounds like.  In spite of years and years of earnestly seeking answers and possessing the uncanny ability to criticize herself mercilessly, she continues to make choices that her intellect disagrees with on a regular basis.

I can relate.  How about you?

Lunch with her was like eating with a tape recorder stuck on “play fast”.  She reeled off stories and incidents and insults and abuses from her past that sounded like well-rehearsed lines rather than a vulnerable conversation.

Eventually I had to ask her to just sit in stillness for a minute.  She couldn’t do it.  I asked her a question.  She couldn’t answer it. The best she could manage was to pause for a second, grab a deep breath and continue with her story.  

I can relate.  How about you?

We were not connecting.  She was not present.  Her eyes were not tracking with mine.  It was like she was reading out of a well-worn book that she never enjoyed.  She is stuck in the story she has been telling herself for ages. 

How about you?  Do you have any stories that you tell and retell about things that you did, were done to you, past offenses and so on?  If these stories do not change, or if the details just get exacerbated in the retelling, this might be contributing to your sense of stuck.

Finally, I interrupted AGAIN and asked a ANOTHER question:  how long has it been since these stories have provided you with insights that helped you change your own thinking, feeling and doing?

She was flummoxed.   But she is also a woman who grew up in a very sick family and she is stuck in a very familiar, particular way.  We’re going to explore this particularity for a while - see if you recognize yourself in any of the descriptions.