There’s nothing quite as excruciatingly frustrating as the indefeasible paralyzation of stuckness.
In my life I’ve been “stuck” far more times that I wish were true, and each time has felt more brutal than the last. At different points I’ve been stuck in my career, in love, in friendships, and even in choosing a vacation destination (I have an inkling that was probably about something else). As a person who works actively to know herself, and stay authentic within herself, being frozen by a pure not knowing of which path to follow is not only infuriating, it’s embarrassing. The stuckness has made me feel like a brazen failure, a dope, a whiny little girl with no gumption. It’s a miserable state to surrender to, and it is also essentially impossible to escape.
As a professional tarot reader, I have found that it is this “stuckness” that brings most curious souls through my door. When there’s a profound disconnect between the soul and the mind, the flowing stream of inner truth seems to run dry, and people will try anything to get it back. But, what I’ve also learned from my own many experiences with stuckness, is that the stream is still trickling away, just swallowed by a storm of fear, self-doubt, and unreasonable self-expectations. To get unstuck is to get through the storm, sit on the bank of that little stream, and just listen again.
So, I’ve compiled the 5 most effective tools I’ve learned and adapted to get unstuck. In my experience using only one of these tools won’t have nearly as deep of an effect as using all 5, so I encourage you to test them out, see how they work for you, and then try them with all the energy you can muster. Getting unstuck often feels like it happens all at once, but it is a process of many unconscious reparations that pave the new way you will decide to take. Be steadfast and don’t give into that storm. You will unstick yourselves, my dears. I believe in you.
1. Interrogate yourself.
A lot of the time we think we are stuck over one thing, but really it is about something else entirely. (Note above vacation destination debacle.) And a lot of other times we feel stuck, but it’s not so much true stuckness as it is a form of avoidance and denial. I’ll give you a personal example. I was stuck between continuing as an actor and quitting to go back to school, for years possibly, until the world kind of smacked me upside the head and made it clear to me what I was really stuck over: I was afraid of feeling like a failure. I interrogated myself over this and realized how stupidly true it was. Once I knew that was how I really felt, the decision was a hundred times easier, and I didn’t feel so lost.
Sit alone in your room, light a candle, meditate for a couple minutes, and then begin the interrogation. Ask yourself what you’re stuck over, hear or speak the answer, and then ask again. Repeat this over and over. Keep asking the same question, “But what am I stuck over?” until you feel like you want to punch yourself in the mouth. The idea is that in your raw emotion, a truth you haven’t heard before might emerge. If talking to yourself isn’t your thing, journal it. Start a fresh page with “What am I stuck over?” and don’t stop writing until you’ve filled it—front and back—with answers.
2. Actively imagine the solution.
I am a big fan of active imagination, which is basically a form of lucid dreaming, a meditative visualization that you direct. In active imagination you drop yourself into your unconscious while awake, and notice what happens. Sometimes fascinating things will come up—people from your past or archetypal images or memories long buried.
To use this technique for unsticking yourself, you will need to get yourself very comfy and spend a moment in the silence. Quiet your mind as if you were lowering yourself into meditation, and then picture yourself in the stuckness. What does it look like? What feelings are coming up? You can make choices in active imagination, like which path to follow and who to talk to, but try hard to not build the world you are in. You are basically a player in a video game, only the player is your ego and the video game your unconscious. So actively imagine and follow the different paths that are sticking you, and note what happens in your heart.
3. Trust your body.
I once met a woman who told me if I felt stuck to just ask my body to tell me what I really wanted. Intrigued, I asked her to demonstrate. She had me outstretch my arms into a T and told me to resist her when she pushed down on my arms. She asked me a question and as I gave my answer, she’d push down to test my resistance. She began with the easy stuff, “Is your name Mariana?”, “Are you a musician?”, etc. With each response she’d push and my arm would stay straight and firm. Then she asked me if I wanted sushi for lunch. Now, a few minutes before I’d made plans to get lunch with my friend, who—as always—suggested sushi. I was still in a phase where raw fished grossed me out, but I had decided I would learn to love sushi and so agreed that that would be great. So as this woman (who knew my lunch plans) asked me if I wanted sushi, I quickly answered yes, she pushed, and my arm collapsed straight down to my side.
Of course, this is not the way to decide whether to get married or break up, to quit your job or take the promotion. But it did teach me something crucial: the body also knows who you are. If you tense up about something, note it. If you get a stomach ache when you think about a certain choice, don’t dismiss it. Start trusting that your body has a say in your future, and you might hear it speaking to you quite clearly, and that clarity may be the boost of certainty you need.
4. Try magic.
Magic is an amazing tool for getting answers, and can provide insights you’d never get one your own. As I mentioned, most of my clients come to me in a point of stuckness, because their personal methods of working through it simply haven’t worked. They need bigger answers, they need a divine energy involved. I’m proof that this method works. Right before I started grad school I got a ten minute tarot reading in a park and it changed my life. The stuckness I felt over whether I had made the right decision lifted instantly.
To get unstuck, I recommend 2 magical practices: tarot and the iChing. Both are question and answer based, and will not take you too far off-track from the stuckness. For tarot I recommend you get a professional reading, and that you make sure you are really clear about what you are asking. It’s great to read for yourself, but I can tell you from personal experience, trying to divine answers about getting unstuck from within your own stuck brain is nearly impossible. If you want to do something on your own, the iChing is definitely more beginner friendly. Drawing from a 5,000 year old Chinese tradition, the iChing is a collection of 64 hexagrams that correspond to a particular message. You will need a notebook, three pennies, and a very clear heart. A good site to use is Divination.com, you can find instructions on how to use it as well as the meanings of all the hexagrams.
5. Write yourself a letter.
In the old days, when people would feel stuck they’d write in a letter to Ask Abby and get a lovely response about what to do. I developed a similar technique very early on and totally accidentally. A creative writing project of mine somehow mutated in me writing letters to an imaginary friend, who was really me. I’d spill myself out in the letter and then come back to it in a week or two, amazed at how much perspective I had developed in just a couple weeks. This empowered me to believe that I was unsticking myself all the time, and it also clarified what was not truly important, and where I was naturally changing or leaning.
Sit down with some sad music, write “Dear Me,” and then let it flow, loves. Set an alarm to come back to it in a week, or if you like the old timey way, actually mail it to yourself. Before re-reading the letter, have a cup of tea and a few minutes of meditation, and then dive into your own heart. Read the letter as if it came from your little sister, and notice how you feel in your mind and body and heart. You might just get a flash of clarity from this alone.
Bonus! If you are not good at interpreting matters of the heart, I have an offer for you that is guaranteed to help. You can also write a letter to me, and I will not only answer it for you with counseling and some tarot wisdom, but I’ll throw in a free meditation for you to listen to to help manifest your unstuckness. Just write me a letter and check your inbox!