So, here in the Northeast where I live and work it has just been weather, weather, weather, and I know that is true for most of you no matter where you live.

It is part of the topic that most of my clients start with – how they are coping ( or not), how they feel about this, and wondering how to survive the season.

The word I keep hearing is “stuck.” My clients feel stuck with this time of the year, with events in their lives, with their illness, with all kinds of life stuff.

One of the things I have been doing is helping them distinguish between the kinds of “stuckness” and the different responses we can make.

One classic pattern is, “I don’t like the way my life is going and I decide to change it.” This is the “dead end “ pattern. We have reached a dead end for this way of life. We don’t want to live where we live, do the job we’re doing, be in the relationship. We move, we break up, we start something new like school, or a business, or join the gym. Sometimes we get a new doctor or take a different medication. All of these changes get us “unstuck” and out of the dead end.

But there is a second classic situation – we can’t change what is. The diagnosis won’t go away. We made a commitment to a person. Our house or apartment can’t be sold at this time. It is not possible to change our external circumstances. In this pattern, “immoveable realities”, we have to grow out and beyond. There must be other perspectives, adjustments and enhancements we make to life. We add some supports – we go to therapy, we meditate, go on retreat, join a support group. We grow out from where we are by trying different kinds of physical healing. Maybe we add hobbies or pets, and practice the emotional yoga of letting go. This way of getting unstuck usually takes more time and a different kind of effort.

The third pattern is a portal to transformation. In this pattern, over time, we begin to relate to our stuck place. Maybe we get an image of it, or we find a way to “speak” to it. One of my clients saw her situation – as a mother with young children, living with RA – as a “swamp.” The swamp of her life was filled with unknowables, and danger. She detested being lost in it. We began to talk about how she could relate to the “swamp.” Was it possible to find or create a place of stability? Could she imagine some solid footing or a boat that could carry her through? Over time, she wrestled with how stuck she felt, how deeply captive she felt to this swamp, but she also began to imagine some new paths.

This third pattern requires a willingness to submit to the fact that there is no known way out of the stuckness. It is not going to change. It is an impossible situation. Yet, there are surprises – people emerge unexpectedly, possibilities are offered. Another mother, new to the community, became a friend to my client. This new friend was able to stand beside her in ways she could not have predicted. A job offer came – “out of the blue” – and she found a way to contribute.

All three patterns of being stuck emerge in our lives. There are times when we must gather the strength and courage to change, to move on. There are times when we find the tenacity to live with “what is” and build beauty and meaning into our lives. And there are times when we wrestle with our situation until a blessing and a new way appear.

As you work with the difficult places in your life, I trust that you will find the methods that are best for you.