Do you ever get stuck on something?
Do you ever get stuck on agitation when someone forgets to replace the cap on the toothpaste?
Do you ever get stuck on frustration when there’s unexpected traffic and you’re late for work?
Do you ever get stuck on annoyance when there’s an hour-long wait at the doctor’s office?
Do you ever get stuck on fear when your child doesn’t return home on time?
Do you ever get stuck on disappointment when your boss doesn’t acknowledge your hard work?
The list is endless.
The truth is, we all get stuck at one time or another.
Why Do We Get Stuck?
Getting stuck on things is normal; it’s how humans are wired. We unconsciously and automatically respond to stimuli in our environment and then grasp onto emotions and beliefs that arise from them.
When we get stuck, we create a story in our mind and cannot see any other way of thinking or being in that moment. We can only see our viewpoint, which limits our possibilities for being truly present.
Being stuck ultimately blocks us from making our lives and relationships as rich and rewarding as they could be.
What Can We Do?
There are many techniques you can implement to help you process through your stuck situation. The S.T.U.C.K. Method is one such technique for promoting emotional well-being. It is an easy-to-remember, step-by-step guide that empowers people to function in life with more clarity by identifying the emotions they are stuck on and the beliefs that support them.
The S.T.U.C.K. Method frees people from places of narrow thinking and opens opportunities for shifts in ways of thinking.
There are five steps to the method: Stop, Tell, Uncover, Consider and OK. This article will focus on the first step, Stop.
How to Stop
Stopping, according to The S.T.U.C.K. Method, means purposefully and temporarily pausing from the stuck place you are in and redirecting your attention to anything tangible in the present moment.
Some people may call this mindfulness. I like to call it a stop because for me, the word stop connotes a halt, a physical act of immediate and purposeful pausing.
You can stop by directing your attention to any number of things, such as attending to your breath, listening to music, praying or chanting, or staring at a candle, to name a few. Most of my stops include using my breath, mainly because the breath is portable and always accessible.
I know I can use my breath as a stop anywhere, anytime. In fact, try it now in this moment. After you read the next sentence, close your eyes for a moment and bring your attention to your breath for several moments.
You may have noticed that stopping temporarily to notice your breath felt calming. In fact, you may even have realized how stopping can set the tone for beginning to process through stuck situations. Stopping has a physiologic effect, such as lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, as well as having an effect on your mental state.
Simple But Not Easy
Sometimes taking a stop can be easy, but not always. When our attention wanders, it takes time and practice to guide it back to our intended focus. It may also be very challenging to take a stop when you are in the midst of a conflict. Your mind may be relentless and encourage you to keep going—to stay stuck, the direct opposite of taking a stop.
Be patient with yourself.
Stopping takes practice, as it certainly does not come naturally; nor does it coincide with the rapid pace of life most of us are living. We are used to checking our phones, answering our emails, and responding to posts on Facebook and Twitter without hesitation.
Ding! Need to check my phone.
Ding! Need to answer an email!
We live on autopilot much of the time and just react, respond and reply. We rarely consciously choose to pause or stop in our lives.
Think about it. When was the last time you purposefully stopped? Despite the many opportunities that exist, we rarely take advantage of stopping and therefore reduce the likelihood of taking care of ourselves in emotionally challenging moments.
10 Ways to Stop
- Try out a variety of stops and determine at least one that resonates with you. You can try sitting quietly and focusing on the breath, listening to music, doing yoga, praying or chanting, to name a few.
Remember, the practice is to attend to one thing in the present moment and guide your attention back to it when it wanders. Try out a few and see what feels right for you.
- Write down the stop(s) you chose and hang this reminder in a visible location. Having a visual reminder of your stops will help support your new practice.
- Make stopping a habit. Set your alarm each day to practice. Decide in advance how much time you will allot to stopping each day and put the timer on to let you know when your scheduled stop is complete.
You can stop several times and at different times during the day.
By making stopping a habit, the practice becomes more recognizable so when you need to implement a stop in real life, the stop will be accessible to you.
- Start out small. The first time you try to stop, consider doing so for just one minute. Once you are able to implement that stop daily, slowly build up the time. It is best to start out with a short amount of time and lower your expectations with how long you think you may be able to stop. Remember, stopping is not easy!
- Make stopping dates. Making stopping a habit is not easy because stopping is indirectly related to the daily pressures and expectations of doing, producing and accomplishing. Making a regular date with a friend, spouse or co-worker helps to hold you accountable and stay committed to the stopping practice.
- Implement weekly stops with your family. Consider introducing a weekly stopping tradition with your family. It could be one evening a week or it could be for an entire day. You could choose to stop using electronic devices, including tablets, pads, smartphones and TV during meal times—or you could even consider stopping using electronic devices for an entire day.
Stopping in this way may open your family up to returning your attention to one another in ways you may miss during the otherwise regular busy work week.
My family takes such a stop from Friday sunset to Saturday sundown every week, and it opens incredible opportunities for family time, including talking with one another, reading together, playing games and going for walks in nature that we oftentimes don’t find the time to do during the week.
- Implement your stop when you don’t necessarily feel like you need it. Have you ever tried to stop before or while you eat? Consider trying it. My eating behavior drastically changes each time I bring my full attention to noticing the colors, sounds and taste of the food, as well as noticing the pace of my eating and how I am breathing.
The implications? I tend to slow down and eat less.
Transferring your stopping to other areas of your life will prove effective in waking you up to the fact that we oftentimes miss living in the present moment.
- Implement your stop during the day when you need it. The moment you become aware that you are stuck on something, stop. You can do something as simple as closing your eyes and taking one deep breath.
- Write down the effects of your stops. How did taking a stop affect you? Did it remedy a situation? Did it help prevent or heal a conflict? Did it calm you? Acknowledge yourself and your hard work by recording your efforts.
Stopping is not easy, and others may not even know you are making such efforts. The only person you can expect to acknowledge your efforts is yourself.
- Be compassionate. Stopping isn’t simple, and it certainly does not come naturally. There will be times when you miss the opportunities to implement a stop.
It’s OK. You are human.
The more you practice, the more you will remember and be able to implement stops in your life. And don’t forget, you’re not the only person in the world who gets stuck. It happens to all of us. So, if you see someone else stuck, stop and be compassionate toward that person as well.
The First Step
We all get stuck on things in life. Every day. Stopping is the first step in finding freedom from the narrow places we get stuck in. The more we wake up to the realization that being stuck does not promote health or wellness, the more we will value the act of stopping.
When we implement a stop, we begin the process of taking care of ourselves and promoting emotional well-being.
About the Author:
Shira Taylor Gura is the author of Getting unS.T.U.C.K.: Five Simple Steps to Emotional Well-Being. As a well-being coach, Shira facilitates engaging and interactive workshops and retreats promoting emotional well-being. Her belief that a more mindful, compassionate life is available to anyone, anywhere is reflected in her blog. She also write “Easing Anxiety: The Story of How One Massage Therapist Stopped.”