While attempting the other day to answer some 17,000 (okay, slight exaggeration) Ask Havi posts at once, I had to stop and hit the brakes.
It had become very apparent just how huge the lack of general knowledge and understanding about destuckifying is.
Here’s my sense at this point.
Most of the people I encounter are already familiar with at least one of the three major conventional methods out there.
At least in a casual way, even if they’re not conscious of the fact that what they’re dealing with is just that — a method.
Or that all three of these ways-of-destuckifying can be, oh, somewhat problematic.
So it kind of seemed like it might be time to a) pull back, b) add to the general knowledge base… and c) just try to give you a better sense of what these three methodologies/philosophies are.
And why they aren’t really always that good for you.
This is a general post. A very general post. It is also … full of generalizations. Ridiculously absurd generalizations. Parody, even.
We can go deeper into the subtleties in grad school. Or at least next term in Destuckification 201.
But we’ve got to start somewhere, and this is it.
Traditional methodology #1: “Pushing through the stuck”
Also known as: Fighting it.
Common phrases: Don’t take no for an answer, be strong, you can do it, stiff upper lip, fake it ’til you make it, get out of bed already!
Associated with: Motivational speakers, personal development blogs, men, the 80s.
Aesthetic (old-school): Suits.
Aesthetic (today): Site designs that are black, red or black and red. The phrase “ass-kicking”. See also: bootcamp.
The pro: Sometimes it works. It gives you that push and you do the thing and you feel motivated and inspired. Rock on.
The con: Kinda violent. It totally doesn’t meet you where you are. It relies on an underlying layer of guilt, which is actually counterproductive in the long run. Also, self-mastery is exhausting and debilitating because it means you always have to be winning. And you can’t always win.
Traditional methodology #2: “Just sit with it”
Also known as: Just sit with it. (Repeat as necessary.)
Common phrases: Just sit with it. Let it be what it is. Accept it.
(Occasionally also — when said by someone who until recently was a disciple of methodology #1 — “Just deal with it.“)
Associated with: The self-help section, trying out eastern philosophies, Yoga Journal.
Aesthetic (old-school): Robes. Neti pots.
Aesthetic (today): Pastels. Illustrations of lotus flowers. Blogspot or Typepad blogs. Either austere seclusion in a hut or expensive retreats that sometimes take place on cruise ships.
The pro: Sometimes it’s exactly what you need. It helps you just when you need it. When you’re able to sit with the stuck, the stuck will dissolve. Which is magical and beautiful.
The con: It doesn’t acknowledge the hard. It doesn’t acknowledge just how hard the hard can be. When you can’t sit with it — and there will be times when you just aren’t able to — the advice “just sit with it” is just not very compassionate.
Traditional methodology #3: “Thank your problems and kiss them for being there”
Also known as: Practicing gratitude even when you don’t feel like it.
Common phrases: Your problem is your teacher. Your problem is your healer. Your problem is a gift. Your problem is a friend. Your problem is a blessing. Embrace the hard. Smother it with kisses. Be grateful for everything. Count your blessings.
Associated with: Affirmations, meditation circles, alternative community bookstores, beads, women.
Aesthetic (old-school): Power suits.
Aesthetic (today): Pink. Green. More illustrations of lotus flowers.
The pro: It’s true. When you are meeting yourself with patience and compassion, problems are gifts and blessings. And when you are ready for that — and it’s a pretty freaking advanced practice — amazing stuff can happen.
The con: Most of us aren’t there yet. Because we need to take time to meet ourselves and our pain first. Calling something excruciatingly painful a blessing can diminish or negate the real life experience of the person whose pain it is.
It is just not compassionate to tell someone that their agony is a teacher. It’s not compassionate to tell yourself that either. Or to expect yourself to be able to practice this if you’re not there yet. Because forced compassion is not very compassionate.
So how am I supposed to work with my stuck if these methods aren’t going to (necessarily) do it for me?
There’s an element that all three of these traditional methodologies (and yes, I stereotyped like crazy because I’m a horrible person) are missing.
What they’re missing is kindness to yourself.
Destuckification is about the willingness to meet yourself where you are.
Even if where you are in that moment is not being able to get out of bed and do the thing already.
Even if where you are in that moment is not being able to sit with it.
Even if where you are in that moment is not being able to thank your pain for being there to teach you.
And if you can’t meet yourself where you are yet?
You recognize (or remind yourself) that this is okay too. That you’re practicing. That you are allowed to hate it. That you can take your time getting to the point where you’ll be able to implement some concept that you’ve learned.
You don’t have to listen to me.
If any of the methodologies I’ve talked about are what’s working for you right now, then I’m totally not going to tell you to stop doing it. Heaven forbid. Tfu tfu tfu.
I’m just pointing out that as a long-term strategy, it may cause some problems later on.
But if you are interested going deeper into the practice of destuckifying, we’re going to be talking here about what that means.
About having a conscious, active, intentional relationship with yourself. About what happens when you’re allowed to drop all the shoulds.
Including the ones that say you should be able to push through it. And the ones that say you should be able to sit with it. And the ones that say you should be more grateful.
So that you can give yourself permission to not have to be there yet.
So that you can find out what you need right now. And find ways to give it to yourself. Or at least get better at being eventually ready to receive it.
EDIT: HERE’S THE CAVEAT
I’m moving this bit (that I published seconds after the post went live) over from the comments since some people missed it.
Ha. I was just having a discussion about this with my gentleman friend and realized there’s an important bit I left out in this already long post.
It’s important to remember that any of these methodologies can be used with great effect by people who are no longer beginners at all this destuckifying stuff.
For example, my teacher is the most disciplined person I know (methodology #1). But that’s because he has so internalized all this “learning to practice kindness” stuff that he processes it automatically and goes straight to doing the thing without any guilt or pushing.
Or my wonderful friend Janet Bailey from Mindful Time Management. Janet has years and years of meditation experience, so when she says she’s going to “just sit with” something she’s feeling (methodology #2), that’s not forced.
It’s very comfortable and loving for her. And that’s awesome. It’s the advanced practice. Without the shoulds.
Or my wonderful friend Hiro Boga (the Flourishing Muse). She is completely capable of viewing hardships as blessings (methodology #3). I’ve seen her do it. Because she’s already there.
She’s already doing the deep internal clearing and processing that allows her to get to the place where she can truly see the good in something.
So in all of these cases, you might use these methodologies as an advanced practice with good effect. It’s just that I would not recommend any of these things for beginners.
And definitely not to the people writing me with things like “aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh! stuck-stuck-stuck-stuck-stuck!”. Not for them. But as methodologies? They can totally be used for good.
Hope that helps. :)