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Get Unstuck-Changing Words Changes Your Thinking

By Linda S. Pucci, Ph.D.

I’ve been noticing lately that a large number of people feel “stuck” in their lives. They aren’t where they had hoped. Sometimes the distance between where they are and where they want to be seems insurmountable.

Actually the feeling of being “stuck” is all about the lack of movement. If you are one of the people who is feeling stuck, here is an easy way to move forward again.

Look at how you are thinking about whatever is challenging you. If you are defining it as “a problem,” that is one way to keep yourself stuck.

When you call something “a problem” you are defining it as an obstacle and giving it form and boundaries. You are solidifying it, instead of keeping it as a process which is just part of the challenge of living.

Life tends to move and flow around us, and when we try to capture what is happening, it is like putting your hand in a running brook. Your hand gets wet, and the water flows around it. While you can “capture” some small amount of water, it isn’t really the whole stream.

The same is true of our lives. When we stop the process of living and label something a problem or an obstacle, it changes the whole picture. It STOPS us. It keeps us stuck.

If we can keep what we’re experiencing in our lives as an active process, it can keep us from getting stuck. I often ask “What is challenging you right now?” Although it might be something my client perceives as a “problem,” I know that by defining it as a challenge to be met, it will keep the process active–a challenge is met, and then you move on.

Our language is critical in determining how we think about things and what happens. For example: What would happen if you said “I’m stressing myself about this situation” instead of “This situation has too much stress?” If you change what you thought of as a problem into a verb, it gives it movement. And by having movement you can keep from getting stuck.

Think about when your car is at risk of being stuck in the mud. Often if you can KEEP MOVING–slowly and steadily–you can avoid getting stuck. The same is true for your LIFE!

Here’s a tip for getting unstuck:

Identify something you’ve been thinking about as a “problem.” Do you think of yourself as being limited by that? Does that keep you stuck in any way? If so, reword how you talk about it. Turn it into an active verb by adding ING.

For instance, you might say “I’ve been depressing over the breakup of my marriage” instead of “I am depressed over the breakup of my marriage.” (Although the first might not be great grammar, it changes the meaning subtly enough that it makes a difference).

Changing how you think about the challenges you face in life can keep you from getting stuck. Your words are powerful. Using verbs to describe your dilemma keeps you moving.

© 2012 Linda S. Pucci, Ph.D.

Linda Pucci, Ph.D. is a life coach, trainer and owner of Inner Resource Center, LLC in Maryville, TN. She has over 34 years of experience helping people overcome obstacles and self-sabotage by using her solution focused approach. She is dedicated to helping people find the resources they need to transform their lives. For more information and free resources including her monthly coaching challenge Inner Resources, go to and sign up in the box on the right .