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As a professional psychotherapist, I have the wonderful opportunity to meet a broad cross section of individuals who are seeking support, encouragement, validation, or just a safe place to open up. Those individuals seek the support of counseling for a plethora or reasons. One of the most common complaints that I have heard in my practice is "I feel stuck". While it is not always stated this directly, it is indeed one of the most common complaints and presenting problems for my clients.
So, it has become increasing more interesting to me over the years as to what this state of "feeling stuck" is really about. Recently, a client was again referrencing this feeling and we began to explore the experience and the feelings (or lack there of) that accompany this state. Others have endorsed feelings of numbness and even frustration. Further discussion with these clients usually reveals that they historically and typically use emotional suppression as their primary coping. "I try not to feel", "I avoid painful feelings", or "I just don't like feelings" are common responses.
So, I have spent many sessions trying to educate my clients that the state of "feeling stuck" is often as a result of chronic emotional suppression. I explain that our emotions are physical indicators of our internal state and they help to illuminate our experiences and guide and direct us in how to proceed in our lives. We should not become a slave to our feelings certainly, yet they function like indicator lights on a car dashboard. To repeatedly and chronically supress and avoid them is akin to covering the dashboard indicator panel in your vehicle with tape. So if your check engine light becomes illuminated, you simply cover it up and pretend that its not. I know first hand how that will end up with you and your vehicle broken down on the side of the highway.
Many of us have learned to live our lives this way, and wonder why we feel so chronically stuck and lost in our lives. It's time to peel the tape off, and learn how to be more mindful and aware of our internal feeling states, so we can ge unstuck and back on the highway of life.
Kimberly Gist Miller, MS, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
© Copyright 2013 by Harmony Counseling Services, therapist in Frisco, Texas. All rights reserved.