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We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.


The stuck that’s not supposed to be there anymore

There’s this moment where you look at a stuck and shake your head because you absolutely cannot believe it’s still there.

Blink. Blink. Nope. Still there.

And then you say things like this:

“But I’ve worked on this sooooooo much!”

“No, really. I have learned this lesson seventeen thousand times. There is no reason to have to learn it again.”

“Okay. How many more years of over-processing this to death is really necessary? Because I think I’m supposed to be done with this one.”

“Ow. Enough.”

You’re right. Completely frustrating.

Permission to feel hugely annoyed: granted.

Oh goodness. There are all sorts of legitimate reasons for why this situation comes up in its annoyingly familiar way.

And it’s still hard, even when you know those reasons.

What’s actually going on, not that this helps.

Well, a couple of possibilities.

You’re waiting for the last penny. You know, to drop. Or maybe the next-to-last penny.

The point is, you’re close to whatever it is that will finish rewriting the pattern.

Or it could be that you’ve downloaded whatever understanding or realization that you needed, and your mind gets it. Completely.

But for whatever reason, that sense of knowing hasn’t fully made its way to your body yet, and you’re still waiting for that visceral understanding where all of you has experienced it.

Or it could be that a current situation is reminding you so much of a past thing that it’s just kind of knocked you out of right now, and you’re reliving old patterns.

Either way, it’s still a horribly uncomfortable sensation and I’m sorry.


I know that when this happens to me*, I feel vulnerable and confused and irritated.

And disoriented, because I need to know that this stuff makes sense on some level, even if I can’t figure out all the details yet.

* That would be right now, since yeah, I’m writing about it.

Looking at my stuck. Hello stuck. I have a stuck.

Oh, the stucknesses, they are many. But this particular one is about not being able to practice something I know to be true.

What I know is that the less I work, the better I work. Or: the more time that gets built-in for rest and recovery, the more I get accomplished.

And there’s significantly more flow, ease and general fabulousness in my business. And in the rest of my life too, obviously.

I have seen other biggified people go through this process.

Better still, I’ve experienced it myself. I have written about the magic of emergency vacation, about taking time to make time, about practicing this, and how when you’re working on your stuff, there’s time, period.

And yet … I know it and I can’t live it. That’s where I am.

What I know about my stuck.

The thing I know to be true — that doing less creates more — is ridiculously counter-intuitive.

So it doesn’t really matter that I’ve experienced the truth of it or that I believe it in my mind. My body rebels.

I have pain around past experiences of not-doing that were unstructured and didn’t involve any kind of personal intention or whatever.

If I am going to create an environment where there is safety in doing less, we’re going to need structures that support me.

Some of these structures are going to exist in theory or in spirit or in energy, like my canopy of peace. And some of them are going to have to be very grounded in reality and have tangible elements that I can tug on.

What I know about stuck in general.

It always helps to give it legitimacy.

“Even though I’m not sure why this insists on staying stuckified, there’s probably a reason for it still being around.”

It always helps to give it permission to exist.

“You are my stuck. You’re allowed to be here. For now. Even though I don’t know how to be done with you yet, at least I’m interacting with you in some sort of semi-aware way, so hey, progress.”

It always helps to remember that it isn’t me.

“Even though this particular piece of stuck feels so familiar, and I’m positive that it’s this integral part of who I am as a person, I’m trying to remember that it’s not.

“It’s a temporary part of what I’m going through right now.”

It always helps to give it time.

“I do not have to resolve this thing right this second. I get to take whatever steps I need, at whatever pace feels right.

“Oh, and I don’t have to like this part.”

It always helps to have next steps.

“What are my next steps? Is there a way I can build in tiny pieces of what I want? Can I create small experiences (ten and fifteen minute chunks) of restorative time?

If “isolation is the dream-killer”, who are my helper mice?*

“Can I use the Deguiltified Chicken Board at the Kitchen Table?

“Is there someone at the Twitter Bar for me to check in with as I experiment?”

* “Isolation is the dream-killer” is a Barbara Sher-ism. And helper mice are people who like helping. I can’t believe I didn’t put that in the glossary.

How I’m trying to reassure myself.

By meeting myself where I am. This is where I am right now. Talking to a stuck.

By being all whooooooo scientific method about it. Obviously we’ve tried it the old way in a million different iterations. Can we try it this new way? Is there a structure for experimentation? Can we track this thing as we try new stuff?

By spending some time with my duck.

By using a negotiator to help me talk to walls. And the fog.

That’s what I’ve got for now.

For me, the most useful aspect of all of this is just remembering that the stuck is something I can interact with.

I might not be done with it today — or even for a while — but at least I have things I can experiment with. Me and my stuck. Not me being stuck.

We’re in some sort of relationship with each other, instead of me just tripping over being me all the time. Which I find weirdly reassuring, at least some of the time.

Comment zen for today …

We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff.

And, operating under that assumption, we try to give other people room to have their stuff, without thinking that it says anything about us. If we can. Or rephrase that in whatever way works for you (you don’t have to sound like a yoga teacher). See you in the comments. Or tomorrow for the Chicken!

25 Responses to The stuck that’s not supposed to be there anymore

  1. Amna (@Germinational)
    Twitter: Germinational

    Hmm, interesting. Everything you could say to yourself about your stuck also applies to a big stuck I gripple with all the time – my dissertation, and how it refuses to magically be finished.

    It insists on staying stuckified like nobody’s business. And I have a, shall we say, *tense relationship* with the thing.

    This business of giving your stuck legitimacy, meeting yourself wherever you are, is so, so difficult for me, and so key. And likely the thing that would let my particular stuck start to shift a teeny bit.

    And also probably the single biggest thing I have learned from hanging around here.
    .-= Amna (@Germinational)´s last post … Germinational: @LucySweetman I know! Bloody show-offs. ;) =-.

  2. creativevoyage
    Twitter: creativevoyage

    I realised that your work reminds me of Robyn Posin’s work http://www.forthelittleonesinside.com She has a maddening site made with frames but if yo go to ‘musing archives’ then to ‘stuck’ – she has some wonderful stuff to say about noticing patterns of stuckness.
    .-= creativevoyage´s last post … everything =-.

  3. Heather Freeman
    Twitter: livingartist


    And I then fight with the secondary pattern of self-flagellation because I think I should know this stuff by now, like I’m failing an exam over and over again.

    But it’s just me. My stuff is hard, and it’s okay for it to be hard, and the fact that it’s hard for me means it’s okay for it to be hard. (Am I making any sense?)

    Anyway, you inspired me to write my own post, listing reminders for myself of some of the things I know but can’t put into living practice. Yet. I hope.
    .-= Heather Freeman´s last post … Reminders =-.

  4. Briana
    Twitter: brianaaldrich

    Oh your timing is always amazing. I’m sorry for your stuck spot, geez this can be frustrating. This morning I actually went through the questions you offered in an Ask Havi post about “no idea why I do this” because of an old stuck that I so thought had finally flown the coop. But clearly has not. Or wanted to pay me a little holiday visit or something. So thanks for this.
    .-= Briana´s last post … Tired *and* happy? Impossible! =-.

  5. ilikered
    Twitter: carriemoore

    It always helps to remember that it isn’t me.

    “Even though this particular piece of stuck feels so familiar, and I’m positive that it’s this integral part of who I am as a person, I’m trying to remember that it’s not.

    “It’s a temporary part of what I’m going through right now.”

    yep. thats me. that is the toughest part of working on all my various stucknesses. I think having an idea of ‘next steps’ and things I can be DOING to actively engage with my stuck would help externalize it and let it become a thing I am working on… hmmmmm thinking thinking thinking thinking

  6. Hey lovely Havi

    I have a stuck that persists – in fact, many times (not *every* time – yay progress!) I experience anything in the field of this, I get the reaction again – panic, etc.

    And having read you talking about legitimacy, I just realised that it helps me to remember that this was totally significant for me and traumatic and major, so no wonder the alarms are still pretty sensitive.

    Something else that is helping me currently is from my current Buddhist-nun-crush Pema Chödrön.

    She talks about how the wheel keeps on turning, even when we’ve stopped spinning it.

    Even LONG after.

    Watching the wheel but not, like, holding on and spinning around with it… that’s *my* challenge with this.

    Thanks. Again.
    .-= Andrew Lightheart @alightheart´s last post … Blogging rhythm and blues =-.

  7. Josiane
    Twitter: kimianak

    Oh, my biggest stucknesses are totally of the “cannot work they’re still there, even though I’ve worked on them so much” variety! So I really thank you for this post: it will be a great resource to refer to when the annoyance and the discouragement show up.

    Also: “Me and my stuck. Not me *being* stuck.” – what a fabulous, and hugely helpful, way to reframe it! According to the part of my mind that went “ding!” when I read that bit, it was much needed… :)
    .-= Josiane´s last post … Noticing – the dragonfly edition =-.

  8. Danielle
    Twitter: somaphile


    I love you.

    That is all.

    Well, and Roller Derby.



  9. Carina (@chalcara)
    Twitter: chalcara

    Oh yes, stuck has a habbit to resurface, doesn’t it? I’m sorry you have to deal with this, Havi.

    Lots of stuck in many areas here, too, but trying to give it legitimacy might help. I’ll try it out. Thank you.

    And barbara is soo right with that isolation quote, but I do not have any helper mice. Everyone I turned to (and that’s been nearly everyone of my social circle) has either ridiculed me, told me to “man up” (“What are you crying NOW for?! Are you stupid?”) or to shut up because I confuse them, or just dropped off the earth and never bothered to reconnect.

    .-= Carina (@chalcara)´s last post … A ToDo List =-.

  10. Victoria Brouhard
    Twitter: victoriashmoria

    Oh my goodness…this is like the perfect stuckness-interaction cheat-sheet.

    I love these kinds of posts because I always feel like it leads to a whole new level of integrating these techniques.
    .-= Victoria Brouhard´s last post … It Starts with a Choice =-.

  11. Amy Crook
    Twitter: amysnotdeadyet

    This is so wonderfully timely, since I just downloaded the Procrastination Dissolve-o-Matic — I love that there’s always Stuck 101 here to provide reminders and encouragement.

    To remember that it’s hard, but it’s worth the work. That we are not our Stuck or our Stuff. That people will like us, stuck or not — because they already do!

    Okay, you didn’t say that last one, but the comments show it so clearly that I’m reminded anyway. ;)

    Thanks, Havi!

    (Mom says hi)
    .-= Amy Crook´s last post … Decorated! =-.

  12. andrea says:


    I am so in the same exact spot as you. Dissertation dissertation dissertation. Where’s the magic when you need it? Geez Louise…

    And it’s so much harder to snuggle up with the stuck and give it some lovin’ when it’s the end of the semester and people need to see that you ain’t stuck.

    Tomorrow is dissertation day and I hope me and my stuck can make amends.

    Wishing you the same!

  13. Sherron
    Twitter: sherronann

    I am struck by how compassionate you are with your stuck. I tend to be a compassionate person, but not with myself, unfortunately. Self-flagellation? Oh yeah, I know an awful lot about that! Even in the midst of it, I know it’s not helping, and is, in fact, making things worse because afterwards, I just want to curl up in a ball and hide from the entire world.

    I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to be kind to myself. Maybe it’s a permission thing. In general, I have a hard time keeping my word to myself, although I’ll move heaven and earth to do whatever I’ve told someone else I’ll do for them.

    I’m trying to be kinder to myself. Perhaps my poor, brow-beaten stuck just needs a little TLC.

  14. Amber
    Twitter: AmberStrocel

    Reading this, I actually opened a dialogue with my stuck for the first time. And, blammo, epiphanies. All over the place. Spilling onto the floor.

    I think I need to go find some helper mice, and pronto.
    .-= Amber´s last post … Work at Home Mom =-.

  15. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi

    hey guys! hi! kisses!

    @Amber – that’s amazing. Wow. Well, let us know if there’s stuff any of us can do. Maybe this will generate a Very Personal Ad or something …

    @Amy – man, you are so right. That’s really true. People (the right ones, that is) will totally like us anyway, with our stuck. Good reminder.

    @Carina – wow, that sucks. I’m sorry to hear it. It really is that much harder when people around us can’t meet us in the hard. I know I’m all about the VPA today, but maybe a very personal ad for some new people in your life …?

    And other than that, the thing I keep working on is trying to find ways to give myself what I need, in the hopes that I’ll get used to being the kind of person who knows what it’s like to get what she needs. Sigh.

    @Heather – ohmygod I love your post. Totally Item!izing it for Wednesday.

  16. Kristine
    Twitter: rainkatt13

    Hi! I just found you, and this post hit me right between the eyes. That’s good, I promise. I’m in the middle of a pile of stucknesses, and one very old one (that I thought was GONE) woke me up this morning and nearly froze me solid; I read your post and spent my afternoon in tears (also good) and talking to a friend who loves me No Matter What, and now I’m going to see whether I can chat with the stuck. Or at least stop trying to fight it (them?) all.

    I’m all kinds of broke right now, so no purchases at the moment, but I’m reading my way through this site–you have given me hope that I can do things my way (if I can figure that out), instead of going to another horrible networking group.

    I’m so glad I found you! And Selma.

  17. […] (Have you not clicked over to Havi’s blog yet?  Seriously what are you waiting for?  There is a whole post today about Interacting With A Stuck!) […]

  18. Alicia says:

    @ Carina Warm, cozy, supportive Hug.

    @ Dissertation people (hi Amna!) The thing that finally helped me finish mine (after 3 years of working on the blasted thing) was to let go of the feeling that I should be done now. Because otherwise the thought of it alone was such a punishment…It also helped that I had just Had It – nothing like having Had It to focus the mind. And the thing I realized afterward was that it was really just another scientific paper – the term “dissertation” had so much baggage that made it seem impossible. Because it is the Document That Proves Your Intellectual Worth For All Time. Which you never want to read again :)

    It’s reassuring to know that I’m not supposed to have everything fixed after the first, second or 40th iteration – as a recovering achiever, that’s something I get to go process now :)

  19. Kate T.W.
    Twitter: Kate_TW

    I so appreciate this post and all the comments! Been getting frustrated w/ my stuck & decided this morning to just listen to it/be with it/ surrender to the fact that it still exists, at least for today. So reading this for me is like a big metaphysical highlighter. Saved this in my bookmarks. Will read again tomorrow. I also love Heather Freeman’s reminder post. Great post & idea.
    .-= Kate T.W.´s last post … Instant Eternal: 5 Peace Band =-.

  20. andrea says:

    @ Alicia. Can you clarify “Had It”? Oh wait, you mean like, “I’ve Had It!” Like, up to here, dammit. Yeah. I’m not quite there yet, but starting to sense it.

    Unfortunately, there’s little that’s scientific about my paper. It’s all philosophical gobbledy-gook (welcome to the world of musicology/music theory/composition!). My problem is that I always feel like I could be writing music (yay!) instead of writing about music (boo!). I think I’m bored. Not only do I feel like I should be done by now (6 years of sporadic writing), but I wanted it to be over with a long time ago. When I have time to work, it’s the last thing I want to do. Otherwise, I’m a busy bee who is easily distracted by more desirable things. Buzz buzz.

    But I’ll think about letting go of the done-by-now, because that’s only making me and my stuck feel yucky, it’s true.

  21. Nenah-Cherry-Rocked-The-House
    Twitter: LeilaLEvelyn

    Yeyy to practising sticking-unsticking right before our very eyes and helping us to speak kindly to ourselves when it is really, really hard to. Urghh when it’s hard it’s hard. But so useful to see your process and dialogue with yourself. Really good. Thank you!

    Also my partner bought me a purple duck.
    I don’t really know why. He didn’t even know about you, Selma that is, he didn’t even know about you and he went ahead and bought me one. It made me smile a lot.
    It’s so very cute and made me think of you too.Although my duck is nameless at the moment -sad I know. Plus it has West Ham United emblazoned on it and it’s purple. I love that it is purple with a big, smiley yellow beak/ I’ll have a chat soon with purple ducky and find out what it’s name is.
    No dissing of ducks allowed.

    I threw a few shoes this week. Plus someone threw what felt like a bomb in response to me badly, clumsily asking for more space, which was me throwing a damn shoe. My stuck came up and it was so huge and so awful it nearly sunk the bloody ship. My ship that is.

    Much better now though. Phew!

    Hugs and thanks to all and this wonderful space and some brillaint pearls of wisdom.

  22. Sarah Marie Lacy
    Twitter: smlacy

    Oh my gosh, I just had a conversation with myself about this very thing.

    Except I realized that I’d *pretended* to resolve my stuck so that everyone else would get off my case about it. When in reality, it just went behind the scenes and has been sneakily stuckifying a lot of things instead and confusing me incredibly.

    On the bright side, it’s like a fog has cleared up and suddenly a lot of things make a lot more sense.

    Yay sense!

  23. Hi!

    So I totally don’t know you, except that because of your amazing blog, I feel I a little bit do. I’m new to finding you, less than two weeks, and already I look forward to the daily email (and ha, I just discovered if I GO to your SITE, there might already be a post UP! it’s like finding dark chocolate unexpectedly!).

    In addition to your amazing, entertaining, plain ole stupendous writing style, you have SO. MUCH. WISE. And you’re sharing it. And it’s wonderful. And I’m trying hard not to gush so I’ll stop with the compliments, I think you have zillions of those (yay).

    What I’m trying to say, what I was thinking about in the shower (genesis of all good ideas), is that … while I wouldn’t wish stuckness on you in a trillion years, it IS awesome that you’re as in the trenches with it as we all are. Which, sure, is true for every being, I suppose. But, you’re so NOT wise-sage-sitting-lotused-on-a-mountaintop-dispensing-wisdom. I mean, of course you’re not, you never would, I’m not saying this well. It’s that you’re living it, just as we all are, or are sure trying to. Living it, breathing it, destuckifying it, right alongside us. If you were never stuck, you wouldn’t innovate, learn, be next to us in the trenches (or not in the same way, at least). Or, over time, there might be a distancing … you might float off into clouds of bliss and who would feed Selma? (Hey Selma, quack)

    OK, I’m TRYing not to essay, but essay is what I always do – just 1 more thought – driving to yoga, the thought came: it’s like what we as writers are always told – SHOW people, don’t TELL them – more effect, more impact, more connection, just more better. And you’re showing us – you’re so authentically living it.

    I’m sure saying a lot to someone I totally don’t know. Hope none out of line. Really, it’s all essentially a thank you.
    .-= Shana McGough´s last post … It’s the simple things =-.

  24. Qrystal
    Twitter: Qrystal

    “…the stuck is something I can interact with.” I sure hope this helps, because I’m getting pretty frustrated and maybe my stuck is too.

    To the dissertation writers: I’m working on mine too, but I call it thesis because it’s shorter. For awhile, I kept writing it in all capital letters, because that’s how big it felt in my head. Now I don’t let it shout at me anymore. I’m still all flavours of stuck about it though…

    @Amna: I too am finding the “meeting myself where I am” as the most difficult part. I came to a realization yesterday that I have to accept that this is difficult for me, and that it’s okay for me to be not yet ready to meet myself where I am. So (muhaha!) I’m meeting myself at “not ready to meet myself where I am”, wrapping myself in a delicious paradox that I’m hoping will dissolve itself with time.

    @Alicia: It’s hard to let go of the feeling that I should be done now, but I do keep trying. And you nailed it with the big scary phrase “Document That Proves Your Intellectual Worth For All Time”; no wonder we worry ourselves into a tizzy, eh? But alas, I’ve been trying to let go of this one for awhile, and it’s tough. I guess that’s why I’m reading an article about how to deal with stucks that aren’t supposed to be there anymore…

    @Andrea: I just want to say that I’m also six years in, which I know makes it really hard to drop the “should be done” feeling. I’m finding that my own encouragement seems to be causing me to resist moving forward, like I’m trying to push a cat to do something it was probably going to do on its own anyways, eventually. Hey, maybe it’s the “should be done” that’s pushing me to encourage myself…

    Since I’m here at a time when I really did intend to be working on my thesis, perhaps now is a good time to meet my stuck for tea. I think I’ll try a Havi-style conversation with it, even though I think I keep pretending I’ve found solutions when I do this. Deceptive, my stuck is!
    .-= Qrystal´s last post … Resolving to Overcome My Stuckness =-.

  25. Havi,

    You are awesome!


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