Stuck in a Rut? 5 Things to Think About First

There’s a big difference between being stuck in a rut, and being depressed. The latter is chronic, the former is temporary. We all get stuck in ruts from time to time. We can’t always bring our ‘A’ game to everything we do. Our biorhythms, our lives, our minds: everything is cyclical. One day we’re flying, and another day feeling a little unmotivated and sluggish.

Popular culture professes to have many instant cures for feeling stuck in a rut, and this blog post is not one of them. Let’s talk a little more about what being in a rut might mean:

  • You simply don’t want to do whatever it is, say go to work, take care of yourself, stop drinking, etc.
  • Some outside entity forces you to change: girlfriend, paying your mortgage, getting to work to pay that mortgage
  • We lack the creative “spark” or energy to invest in whatever task or activity we will do – we’re simply not inspired
  • There’s a “should” or “must” attached to it; rule number one about humans is that we create an opposite reaction to forces telling us what to do. The energy is there – it’s just pent up and going the opposite direction. If we “have to do something,” it’s more likely we’ll drag our feet, or simply not do it altogether.
  • We’re not in touch with what flows, or what’s fun. Our sense of play has diminished, and our sense of obligation overrides what we really want to do.

Here’s some ways to remedy that sense of being stuck in a rut.

  • Start communicating with yourself. Ask pertinent questions like, “Why am I wanting to do this? What do I get out of doing it? What would I rather be doing, and could I be doing it that way?”
  • Try not to “push” yourself through to the other side, and make yourself unstuck. This tends to create a behavioral pattern over time, which encourages chronic “stuckness” over the long term.
  • Take time out, and brainstorm your values. If you don’t know what your values are, take some time to come up with them. Write down values like, “exercise” or “personal time” or “time with my family/wife/girlfriend”. Try create ones like “creative time” or “do-nothing on purpose time”. When you get to the root of what you’re about – your values – and you’re doing activities that align with those personal values, you help yourself de-rut.
  • Identify the areas where you’re stuck, such as relationship, work, personal life, money, mind. Create an action plan to work towards solutions to address those specific area. Watch for overwhelming yourself by thinking in a ‘black or white’ mentality, and lumping everything together as a problem. You’ll overload yourself, and stay stuck. Maybe this is what got you into the rut in the first place.

Activating ourselves from the inside is most important, because others – whether they be our wives, girlfriends, bosses, or personal trainers – can only motivate us from the outside so much. Taking ownership for our situation, and making a commitment to ourselves to change is tough, but ultimately much more rewarding.


About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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