Being Stuck, Getting Free
Like most people, you probably want your life to flow, to enjoy success in all areas of your life. Yet, at times, you may become ensnared – embroiled in limiting beliefs, perceptions and patterns of behavior.
“No one likes me” (limiting belief – too extreme – highly unlikely);
“That person doesn’t like me” (perception – might be true or false, and quite possibly your relationship could be improved);
“I’ll better avoid them [or resist them, or keep them at a distance]” (limiting behavior pattern, when overused).
When you’re ensnared, your challenge is to gain (or tap into) the clarity, courage and skills to free yourself. If you’re bold and confident, you may try to do this on your own. Yet it’s often surprisingly difficult. Many people struggle for years to free themselves. What makes this so challenging?
1. Excessively rigid beliefs and rules from your family, community or (in some cases) religion can act like glue. They tend to keep you stuck.
“You can’t trust anyone.” (too extreme, in most situations)
“You’re better than them.” (CAREFUL!! in essence, we’re all equal)
“You’re worthless.” (NOT TRUE!!!)
Example of a rigid, dysfunctional rule:
“Never speak up for yourself.” (Bad idea!)
These beliefs and rules are typically loaded with emotion – anger, resentment, fear of rejection or vulnerability, longing for acceptance or fierce independence.
In some ways, old beliefs, rules and patterns of behavior can help us feel safe. They give us guidelines for our lives. Maintaining old beliefs and patterns can help us feel protected, righteous, or connected with important people in our lives. These “perks” can be conscious or unconscious. Either way, we pay a high price.
2. Intense, stressful emotions — often arising from traumatic experiences — can also seem to bind you to limiting patterns. You might hold onto old patterns out of fear, an angry striving for justice, or a desperate hope that your familiar actions will finally be rewarded. Again, these motives may be conscious or unconscious.
In repeating old behavior, you are probably striving to master a situation which has caused you pain or frustration. You may be seeking respect, love, safety, validation, a sense of self-worth. Yet you could be looking in the wrong places or using ineffective strategies due to your blind spots.
For instance, you could repeatedly be drawn to people who disrespect you. Or perhaps you try to connect with people by impressing them with how brilliant, tough, cool or sophisticated you are. Yet it’s difficult to connect when you’re busy playing a role, perhaps afraid to show more of who you are. Or maybe you depend too much on others to give you the support, love or validation you need to give yourself.
* * * * * * *
Seeing beyond your old, dysfunctional beliefs is challenging. Beliefs can act like blinders, blocking the bigger picture of your life. This is especially true when these beliefs are wrapped up in strong emotions such as resentment, fear and despair.
Like most people, through your natural efforts to cope, you may eventually numb yourself to these painful feelings. You might feel a little better, but numbing yourself is like laying concrete on top of the problem. The problem needs to be exposed so you can resolve it and free yourself.
What to Do
Self-help books, articles and techniques provide tools to help you in this process. Numerous methods can be used on your own, and may be genuinely helpful.
For many problems, self-help is most useful when used in addition to therapy or counseling. For difficult problems, I don’t recommend doing all the work by yourself.
As I explained above, seeing through your own blind spots can be very difficult. A clear perspective is typically thwarted by deeply held assumptions about life or who you are. Many people go in circles for years. Also, in many cases, compassionate support from another human being is a powerful catalyst for deep emotional healing.
An empathic therapist with diverse skills and training is in an ideal position to assist you. For a quick summary of how this can work (using the example of myself as the therapist), see my home page,
To schedule a session with Dr. Laurie Greenberg in New York City or online, please contact me directly:
– or –
+1 (212) 501-3707 (past-life regression)
+1 (212) 501-4647 (other methods)
Alternatively, to find a therapist near you, see the Links page on this website.