Don't believe me? We even have different names for it: stuck in rut, stuck between a rock and hard place, stuck in the middle, stuck on you. Okay so that last doesn’t quite have the effect as the others, but you get the point. And when we say we’re stuck, almost every time, it’s not a good thing.
Depending on the composition of the sentence, the Hawaiian word for stuck – pa‘a – doesn’t just mean stuck. It can also mean firm, solid, tight, and secure.
So, as I sat here thinking of what to write my next blog post about – stuck in a writer’s block and frustrated – I thought of how one word can mean so many things in Hawaiian. I thought about how maybe I, too, should think about stuck in a different light. Stuck doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
A block is one of the worst things a writer can face. It can paralyze you staring down that fast-approaching deadline. When you’re on a stage about to perform and you blank, a different form of stuck but a similar block, it’s similarly paralyzing. In these kinds of moments, fear is often the first feeling to rise up.
Fear isn’t always a bad thing. That fear can push you to write through a block. It can make you move onto the next word in a song. But what happens when fear of staying stuck can be paralyzing? One thing that’s helped me for a long time is to find a good mantra and accept the stuck.
Finding a Mantra
You need to find a mantra that works for you in that particular situation. Sometimes it’s the same as in other situations. Other times, it’s not. I suggest you compile a set of them to pull out of your tool belt at the right moment. Here are some of my favorite stuck-in-a-rut mantras:
- You’re okay.
- You don’t build the courage to do something; you do something to build the courage to do it again.
- You’re a good person.
It’s not just about having a good attitude all the time though. It’s about being able to handle challenges. When you can approach a challenge with optimism, you have a higher likelihood, not just of success, but of the ability to thrive.
Find something that works for you, though. Using others as guides can be a start. I’ve found that my mantras are whatever they need to be at the time. Just remember to keep it positive.
What to Do Once You Have a Mantra
There a couple routes you can take depending on what kind of stuck you are. If this is a single occurrence, such as writer’s block for this blog, try closing your eyes, taking deep breaths, and repeating the mantra either out loud or in your head. Repeat it at least three times.
However, if you’re getting a broader feeling of being stuck, say in life in general, you might want to commit to a daily routine. When my husband and/or I are having a rough spell in work or personal life, it’s not uncommon for us to take 5 minutes in the morning doing different mantras or exercises. It can feel really silly or awkward. But, trust me the only logical outcome to putting out positivity is to feel positively. If you’re feeling social pressure, just lock yourself in the bathroom, close your eyes, and run through the mantras in your head.
I’m a strong believer in mantras. I’m an even stronger believer that positivity breeds positivity. I’m also a strong believer that tough things and hard times are a part of life. A mantra might get you through a difficult moment, but it might not get you immediately out of the rut if the rut is a poorly fitted job or a toxic relationship.
In these circumstances, I try my best to go back to that Hawaiian word: pa‘a. Sometimes when I’m stuck, I may not be meant to get unstuck right away. I may be meant to take the time to be firm and to hold tight. And, it might surprise you that perhaps life is giving you this challenge because you are pa‘a. Just because you’re stuck doesn’t mean you’re any less secure or firm in yourself. Let’s not forget Queen Lili‘u’s motto was ‘onipa‘a – steadfast and resolute.