• Learning to embrace your feelings can help if you're feeling stuck

  • Psychotherapist Tina Gilbertson explains more with this TRUTH exercise

  • If you are looking for a therapist, you can find one here

As a psychotherapist, I meet people all the time who are feeling stuck. Motivation and interest elude them and they're unhappy.

I wanted to help people get back on their feet, not just to survive, but to thrive.

Life gives us an opportunity to become the person we're meant to be by fulfilling our unique purpose. But many people feel out of touch with their purpose. Instead of moving forward with energy and joy, it's as though they're caught in an eddy. Even if they knew how to get moving again, they wouldn't know which direction to go. Somewhere along the way, they lost their internal compass.

This may seem paradoxical, but when you're feeling stuck you can often get back on track faster by moving toward that stuck-ness. Pay attention to your feelings. Say to yourself, “I feel lost right now," or “I'm lonely" or “I'm tired of trying" -- whatever is true for you.

There's no danger in acknowledging these truths; emotions don't do damage (they're a response to damage) and by being honest with yourself you'll get your engine and rudder back so you can move forward again.

Try using the T-R-U-T-H Technique to get un-stuck:

T=Tell yourself the situation

Focus your thoughts by saying a few words about what's bothering you. It might be as vague as “I feel blue and I'm not sure why" or as specific as “I spent a lot of money for something that I now realize I don't like." Keep it simple, and don't spend too much time on this part.

R=Realize what you're feeling

Use a list of feeling words if you need inspiration. You can find one on the Internet by doing a simple search. In the case of feeling blue, what shade of blue do you feel? Despair? Loneliness? Regret? Insecurity? Resentment?

U=Uncover self-criticism

This is where you catch yourself taking everyone's side but your own. In the context of constructive wallowing, “I need to get my act together" is an example of a self-critical thought. It's not that getting your act together is a bad thing per se, it's just that you're kicking yourself when you're down, which isn't helpful. Wallowing is only effective when guided by self-compassion.

T=Try to understand yourself

Whatever you feel, there's a reason. Don't look for evidence or justification; look for understanding. Why would someone feel the way you do? Put a stranger in your shoes. Take your own side and find a way that your emotions make sense.

H=Have the feeling

Once you've named a feeling and avoided criticising or judging yourself for it, the only decision left is whether to let yourself feel the way you do, or to try to distract yourself from your own experience.

Since avoiding this type of emotional experience is how one gets stuck in the first place, try just immersing yourself in your emotions. If you do this whole-heartedly in the privacy of your own thoughts you'll discover that the feelings themselves only last a minute or two before naturally subsiding.

When they're through you'll find that they left a gift behind: You've reclaimed the part of yourself that felt that way. Choosing to pay attention to negative feelings will keep you in touch with yourself and make you whole again. From a place of wholeness you can move toward the self-actualisation your heart longs for.

Remember the old saying: You've got to feel it to heal it. 

Tina Gilbertson is the author of Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them

Further reading

Why do we become stuck in life?

How to manage feeling sad

Self-care for when you're feeling overwhelmed

How therapy helped me understand my fear of rejection