Do You Feel Stuck? Perhaps a ‘Midwife of Change’ Could Help

Crossroads through deserted landscapeWe all face challenges. Some dilemmas feel pretty big and we find ourselves at a crossroads feeling overwhelmed, frozen, and stuck.

But what does it mean to be stuck, exactly?

Stuck is seeing no alternatives to your dilemma. Stuck is fear of failure. Stuck is making your plans and setting goals but postponing taking the first step. Stuck is breaking promises you made to yourself and then feeling guilty. Stuck is waiting for a catastrophe to strike before doing what you knew you should have done all along. Stuck is feeling hopeless, frustrated, angry, and trapped. Sound familiar?

It happens to all of us.

We often stay stuck by overlooking past personal successes and downplaying our inner resources. We stay stuck by mentally affirming our reasons not to change: “I tried that and it didn’t work.” “It’s genetic.”

Fear is another common stumbling block. Fear of failure, fear of pain, fear of success, fear of rejection. Fear prevents you from taking risks; it convinces you to set goals that are too low.

Another major barrier to change is all-or-nothing perfectionism—thinking if you can’t do all of this, you won’t even try. Because you want everything or nothing, nothing is what you usually get.

A variation of perfectionism is telling yourself you’ll begin as soon as the perfect time arrives. It seems that something always happens today that makes putting it off until tomorrow more attractive. It’s as if we honestly believe that at some magical point in the future we won’t have any temptation or interruptions. That day will never come! Waiting keeps you frozen and stuck. Waiting keeps you paralyzed. Moving ahead imperfectly is better than being paralyzed perfectly.

Once Impossible, Now Easy

Can we get unstuck? Yes! Is it difficult? Sometimes. Have you successfully accomplished other difficult things in your life? Sure, you have! Think about some of the things that, at one time in your life, you couldn’t do—things once impossible, now easy.

At one time in your life, you couldn’t walk, talk, or even control your bowel movements. There was a time you couldn’t tie your shoes, read, spell, or do math. At one time, you couldn’t ride a bike, swim, or drive a car. Here’s a suggestion: Make a list of some of the things that once seemed impossible and display it where you can see it. This list can serve as a powerful reminder that you have accomplished many challenging things and you can do it again.

Truth is, people pretty much change themselves. Often it’s a simple process, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy; you have to want to change. Between wanting and having, there usually has to be some doing.

Finding Your Inner Resources

Truth is, people pretty much change themselves. Often it’s a simple process, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy; you have to want to change. Between wanting and having, there usually has to be some doing. Wishing for something is not the same as deciding to do it. Simply preferring that things would turn out a certain way won’t produce the same results as making a commitment to do whatever it takes. When you want to feel something different, you have to do something different.

To do and feel something different, you have to access your inner strengths and resources and use them to help create that “better future.” Based on my personal and professional experience, I’m convinced we all possess those inner resources but sometimes need someone to reassure and remind us.

Standing at the Crossroads

People at the crossroads often feel uncertain and in a state of flux, yet they are—either by default or desire—frequently ready and willing to change. It is at this critical juncture that well-timed, appropriately delivered professional interventions can make a significant and positive difference.

Many people who feel frozen and stuck want things to change. They hope for a “better future” but aren’t exactly sure how to bring it about. Sometimes they seek professional help: they call a therapist. When they do, a major part of the therapist’s job is to create a safe, supportive climate for the change they’re seeking and to help them find their own way to that better future.

Give Birth to Change

Therapists, metaphorically speaking, often function like a midwife. They observe people experiencing the labor pains of change, recognize how vulnerable they feel, and offer gentle reassurance that not only is change possible, it’s inevitable.

In the context of a professional relationship—a relationship rooted in trust and built with rapport—they provide a therapeutic delivery room where they do their best to help people feel safe. And in that private space—filled with compassionate concern, hope, encouragement, and helpful suggestions—they are often privy to the miracle of birth: the birth of change.

If you feel it’s time to deliver the change you want, you might benefit from enlisting the help of a therapist—a midwife of change.

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The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • 12 comments
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  • Gene

    Gene

    April 16th, 2015 at 10:49 AM

    What a great analogy! I would have never thought to liken my therapist to a midwife, but now I think that it makes perfect sense!

  • Wanda

    Wanda

    April 16th, 2015 at 12:07 PM

    While it can be a huge help to have someone help to facilitate these changes, it is also good to find that strength within yourself too. Now maybe a therapist will help you to do that, be your cheer squad, but ultimately the change that you find has to begin with you.

  • gregory

    gregory

    April 17th, 2015 at 4:57 AM

    Sometimes you just need the love and encouragement from someone close to you who can help to push you along and go past these obstacles that life will inevitably throw at us. We have all had those roadblocks placed before us and there are times when those feel like they are insurmountable… but they can be overcome I promise. Now you might need some help, and that may be hard for you to accept, but ask for it, it might be the one thing that you needed to get you through this. There is no shame in it.

  • Allen

    Allen

    April 18th, 2015 at 7:27 AM

    You can be at those crossroads and know that the time for change is there and ready for the taking, and yet you can still feel confusion about the choices that have to be made. You could have known that this was coming for a very long time and still when you get there there is still anxiety and indecision about whether or not you will be making the right choice. Just know that life is full of decisions, the right ones and the wrong ones too, but you cannot let the fear stop you from taking the opportunities that are presented to you. So what if you make a bad choice every now and then. Tat just better prepares you for making a better decision the next time around.

  • Jane

    Jane

    April 18th, 2015 at 1:49 PM

    Been stuck for awhile now. Would like to get back to my art and take lessons, but feel exhausted emotionally from needy friends and an autistic son. When my meds are not working, I slip back into depression. I used to be a great student, always loved learning. Now I feel, at age 58, no amount of education would result in an interesting job. I think often about volunteer work, but am extremely sensitive and disliike the inevitable caste system of volunteer work. I am planning on taking some art lessons locally, and starting a volunteer work at a local MHA but nothing really helps my blues. I just feel that life is too complex, that people expect me to handle all conflicts for them, and I am a kind, sympathetic funny sort of person in regard to other’s needs. There is nobody but God that seems able to help me with my feelings. So, I go to the man upstairs. My husband will not accept his son as he is, and I have to deal with all these conflicts. This takes away my optimism and energy…and I never get a vacation that is worthwhile, because the same problems just go to that locationl

  • Creed

    Creed

    April 20th, 2015 at 9:23 AM

    You can’t spend all of your time waiting for the perfect time- there is never any such thing!

  • Diane

    Diane

    April 20th, 2015 at 11:46 AM

    I have also been stuck awhile, raised my 3 children alone, got thru that and then economy crashed and I lost my job and home. I am now caretaker for my 91 year old mom, have been for 9 years now. The Lord is my shepard too. I take meds too and have started an excersire routine. It has also helped my sense of well being alot. We have to be kind to ourselves too. Keep trucking.

  • Sam

    Sam

    April 21st, 2015 at 3:25 AM

    I feel very stuck in my marriage. I’ve done individual, couples, now back to individual therapy & nothing seems to work. My husband thinks that I’m the one that needs to change & now I’m just exhausted. We have a small child, so this weighs heavily as well. I just feel that I’m getting more & more stuck as time goes on.

  • jeremiah

    jeremiah

    April 21st, 2015 at 3:52 AM

    I would at least like to find someone to work with me who could get me started in the right direction.

  • Harris

    Harris

    April 21st, 2015 at 10:42 AM

    I am pretty sure that we all have these days when you feel like you have gotten so bogged down in the minutiae that it becomes difficult to see the big picture any more. I think that for me this is the one challenge that can keep me from moving forward and getting ahead. I focus way too much on the negative and generally ignore the positive. I need to somehow get on track to believe differently somehow and process things in a different way. I know that is there was a way that I could do that then I would be so much happier.

  • terra

    terra

    April 23rd, 2015 at 1:44 PM

    I love the term midwife of change!
    How many therapists do you think like that title too?

  • Timothy Storlie

    Timothy Storlie

    May 20th, 2015 at 8:42 AM

    Thanks to everyone for sharing your experiences and comments related to this topic.

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