Getting Unstuck

January 10 2022 | by

DEAR DR. POPCAK: I’ve been really struggling recently as everyone this time of year is talking about change… making change, being excited about change, and setting new goals. Meanwhile I just feel very stuck. It feels like there are a lot of things I want to change in my life – I’m not happy in my job, I know there are improvements that could be made in my relationship – and it’s really impacting my overall happiness. But because there are so many changes, and seemingly big changes, I want and need to make, I’m just feeling completely stuck. And this seasonal discussion of change has been really making it harder lately. What can I do to start to get unstuck?


It sounds as though the changes you are describing are changes that you have been wanting to make for some time, but they are really being highlighted at this moment, which is adding to the pressure you are feeling.

Let me first say that, when we feel stuck, it’s often because we can’t think of the “one big thing” we can do to resolve something once and for all. Most complicated problems can’t be solved that way. The good news is that we don’t have to be able to solve these big problems in one fell swoop in order for them to get resolved. All we have to do is identify the next graceful step we can take. Remember that just as Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish he can multiply our tiniest efforts to create the changes we are seeking. Leave the big picture to God. For now, just ask yourself, “What is one small, positive, graceful change I make with the part of the problem that is in front of me today?” Put all your energy into making that change, then the next one and the next, and trust that God will lead you, step by step, to the freedom from this challenge you are seeking. 

Sometimes this can feel difficult, however, when we feel that we don’t know what to do. We’re afraid to do the “wrong thing.” Assuming we are praying about our situation and doing our best to work for the good of the people involved, there is no wrong answer. Trust in God’s mercy and act. Even if we somehow get it wrong, or if things don’t turn out the way you hoped, trust that God will honor your efforts to be open to his grace and that, in his mercy, he will get you back on track. It’s easy to steer a car when it’s in motion, and even a wrong turn can be corrected if you keep moving. Gather your information, pray, do your best to work for the good of all involved, then act and leave the rest to God. You’ll be amazed at how quickly things can change when you stop aiming for the ‘guaranteed perfect answer’ and, instead, aim for ‘placing yourself in God’s merciful hands’.

If you take these steps and still feel stuck, practice humility and ask for help. Find a mentor, seek out new information, consult a professional. Ask God to help you find the best information and the best people to support you. We were never meant to figure everything out on our own. If we are genuinely stuck, that is often the voice of the Holy Spirit saying, “I want to introduce you to someone new who can help you.” Stop thinking you have to do it all by yourself and ask others to share their gifts, knowledge, and resources with you.

Updated on December 09 2021