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  • Many of us spend a large a part of our lives, in one way or another, feeling stuck, that

  • is in a state where a strong desire to move forward on an issue meets with an equally

  • strong compulsion to stay fixed where one is. For example, we might at one level powerfully

  • want to leave a job in finance in order to retrain in architecturebut at the same

  • time, remain blocked by a range of doubts, hesitations, counter-arguments and guilty

  • feelings. Or we might be impelled to leave our marriagewhile simultaneously unable

  • to imagine any realistic life outside it. To act feels horrific, but doing nothing is

  • killing us as well. Every avenue appears shut off. And so one ruminates, turns over the

  • question late at night, tries the patience of therapistsand watches life go by with

  • mounting anxiety and self-disgust.

  • As an outsider, one might be tempted to ask questions to move things on: Why don't you

  • try to enrol on a course to see if you might like a new area of work? Why don't you discuss

  • your dissatisfactions with your partner? Why don't you go to counselling? What about

  • splitting up? But we're likely to find that our friend can't make any progress, whatever

  • we say. It seems as if they are subject to a law disbarring them from progressing, not

  • a law you'd find in the statutes of the country they live in, but some sort of personal

  • law – a law that might go like this: Make sure you don't achieve satisfaction in your

  • career; Make sure your relationship has no life in it but cannot be abandoned; Make sure

  • you aren't happy in the place you live in. In order to understand the origin of these

  • laws, we have to look backwards. Difficult childhoods and the complicated families they

  • unfold in are the originators of a lot of these restrictive unspoken laws, whose impact

  • echoes across our lives. Some of these laws might go like this: 'Make sure you never

  • shine, it would upset your little sister'. 'You have to be cheerful not to let my depression

  • break through.' 'Never be creatively fulfilled because it would remind me of my envy';

  • 'Reassure us that we are clever by winning all the prizes at school'; 'We need you

  • to achieve to make us feel OK about ourselves'. 'You would disappoint me if you became boisterous

  • and one day sexual'. Of course, no one ever directly says such

  • things in a family (laws couldn't operate if they could so easily be seen), but the

  • laws are there nevertheless, holding us into a particular position as we grow up and then,

  • once we have left home, continuing to surreptitiously distort our personalities away from the path

  • of their legitimate growth. It can be hard to draw any connection between adult stuck

  • situations and any childhood laws. We may miss the link between our reluctance to act

  • at work and a situation with dad at home thirty years before. But we can hazard a principle

  • nevertheless: any long-term stuckness is likely to be the result of butting into some sort

  • of law inherited unknowingly from childhood. We are stuck because we are being overly loyal

  • to an idea of something being impossible generated in the distant past, impossible because it

  • was threatening to someone we cared for or depended on.

  • Therefore one of the main paths to liberation lies in coming to 'see' that the law exists

  • and then unpicking its warped and unnecessary logic. We can start by asking whether, beneath

  • our practical dilemma, there may be a childhood law at work, encouraging us to stay where

  • we are. We can dig beneath the surface problem in search of the emotional structure that

  • might be being engaged (in the unconscious, architecture = the creativity dad never enjoyed,

  • sexual fulfilment = what hurt my loveable mum). We may discover that some of the reason

  • we can't give up on finance and take up a more imaginative role is because throughout

  • childhood, we had to accept a law that we couldn't be both creatively fulfilled and

  • make moneyin order to protect our volatile father from his own envy and inadequacy. Or

  • we can't leave our marriage because, unconsciously, we're coming up against a law from childhood

  • that tells us that being a good child means renouncing one's more bodily and visceral

  • sides. The specifics will differ but the principle

  • of a hidden law from childhood explains a huge number of adult stucknesses. The way

  • forward is, first and foremost, hence to realise that there might be a law in operation when

  • we get stuck, that we aren't merely being cowardly or slow in not progressing; and that

  • we feel trapped because we are, in our faulty minds, back in a cage formed in childhood,

  • which we have to be able to see, think about and then patiently dismantle. We can along

  • the way accept that we are now adults, which means that the original family drama no longer

  • has to apply. We don't have to worry about upsetting parental figures; their taboos were

  • set up to protect them but they are making us ill; we can feel sad for the laws that

  • these damaged figures imposed on us (often with no active malevolence) but can recognise

  • that our imperative is move them aside and act with the emotional freedom that has always

  • been our birthright. We may need to be disloyal to a way of being that protected someone we

  • cared about or depended onin order to be loyal to a more important someone still:

  • ourselves.

  • Our Decision Dice are a tool to help you make wiser decisions in work, love and the rest of your life.

Many of us spend a large a part of our lives, in one way or another, feeling stuck, that

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B1 childhood stuck progressing creatively envy fulfilled

On Feeling Stuck

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    Summer posted on 2020/10/08
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