What Keeps Us Stuck

It's what used to work

What keeps us stuck most of all is past success that no longer works now. Why do people go into futile road rage? Because, at some time early in life, when they cried and stamped their foot, they got their way. If that happened with some regularity, it became a habit and now when they feel the anger they felt as a frustrated child, they do what they did as a child.

It's more complicated than that. We usually concoct a story line - some kind of narrative-to go along with that. You hear people say when something goes wrong, "Oh, expletive, that's the story of my life!" They don't realize they are literally correct. They have a recurring loop and when external events remind them of that loop, they recognize it as the story they tell themselves about themselves. I grin inside every time I heard the recent phrase, "That's my story and I'm sticking to it." That's right. And what is painful is that we stick to our story even when the facts are at considerable variance. "Nobody likes me," is not correct if one or two people fail to recognize your superior qualities.

What marks our story, defines our style and ruins our ability to be present to the moment is a certain rigidity in the way we perceive things and the way we habitually respond to them. When mental health professionals remind us that if we keep doing what we're doing, we're going to keep getting what we're getting, they are telling us how destructive rigidity is. People think they have ten years of experience, but if they are rigid in their habits, they will have the same experience ten years in a row. That's the point of my article on our style being like a fast food emporium.

In short, healthy people do what works. Stuck people do what used to work.