It's the awareness,
the full experience
of how you are stuck,
that makes you recover.
~ Fritz Perls
Often in psychotherapy, clients will ask me "what should I do?" They want a course of action, something to DO, to stop feeling stuck. This question usually comes after they have talked about a situation they are in, or an ongoing feeling that they don't know how to change. We may have explored how this situation is familiar, of what childhood situation it may be a repetition, they may have arrived at an understanding about it but they still feel stuck. An intellectual understanding of what is going on is an important first step.
Yet the path out of being stuck is paradoxically fully experiencing the stuckness! It's bringing your awareness to every nuance of how you are stuck.: exploring all aspects of the experience including how it feels in your body, images, thoughts, feelings. Bringing attention, curiosity and interest to the complexity and multiple layers of the experience of feeling stuck, rather than impatience and judgment. Going into the stuckness rather than turning away from it, will eventually lead you to a new way of perceiving things, to a new course of action, to a new path. It is a transformative experience that may feel quite mysterious because much of it is taking place outside of conscious awareness, outside of how the mind is used to approaching problems.
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Peggy Handler, MFT, is a psychotherapist in San Francisco's Noe Valley