You can spend precious time going over and over disturbing events you’ve encountered in your head analyzing what was right and wrong and what was good or bad. Whether it was a disappointing job interview that didn’t result in an offer, a difficult conversation with a boss, a negative feedback regarding a part in a project or rejection by a personal relationship — you’re stuck in the “story” and have difficulty moving forward.

You tell others how you’ve been wronged and treated unfairly:

  • It shouldn’t have happened. It’s not fair.
  • Why did he/she say that? I’ve never been treated like that before.
  • I’m not understood.
  • If only, this or that would have happened.
  • He/she should have said it differently.

The incident can be chewed on for days with embellishment of more memories from similar times and sometimes from long ago that deepen the disturbing aspects.

You get the drift.

And by the way you may be right.

  • It shouldn’t have happened and it wasn’t fair.
  • You weren’t understood.
  • He or she said or did things that shouldn’t have been said or done.
  • You may have been treated similarly in the past.

And you’re stuck in the discomfort. You’re stuck and ready to be freed and don’t know how.

In this article, you will get the secret and next steps to getting free and unstuck from negative encounters/incidents you are suffering.

And believe me, I know when you are there it is angering, hurtful, sad and sometimes shaming.

It’s like being swept into the ferocity of a tornado that grows in intensity. Remember Dorothy spinning around inside the tornado in the classic, The Wizard of Oz?  Like Dorothy, you’re spinning and spinning, with all the other negative chatter and interpretations captured in the tornado swirling all around you.

So, here’s the secret to getting free and unstuck each and every time:

Surrender to reality. Yep, that easy

But what is easy to do is easy not to do.

Accept the reality. Surrender to it. You don’t have to like the reality. You don’t have to agree with the reality. Surrender. Yield to the reality. Debating the reality is a waste of time. Surrender.

Then notice if more energy becomes available. If so, there is freedom to make choices.  You’re free then to use the energy to focus on your next steps toward problem solving and moving forward.

Take these 3 steps:

Step 1: Describe your disturbing event.

Here’s Joan, a relatively new employee at the law firm, but a seasoned worker. Joan describes her disturbing event:

I have a supervisor who just finished giving me feedback on my work that I had felt pretty good about BEFORE I met with her and NOW:

  • I’m feeling discounted and unappreciated.
  • I’m defeated and fearful that my work isn’t good enough.
  • I worry that I won’t earn the bonus I’ve been working all year to get.
  • I’m stuck in negativity and fear.
  • Actually, I’m almost paralyzed.
  • Thinking it over I get more upset and think about the unfairness and wrongful treatment.
  • So, there were some good points that I should have recognized and corrected.
  • However, how dare she talk to me that way and not say more about what was RIGHT about my project, etc.
  • All I’m thinking about is how I’m failing. I’m feeling disappointed with myself and her.

For Joan, this incident has become a tornado of negativity and is swirling faster and faster, catching all kinds of fearful feelings.  Her what-if-this or that scenarios has her stuck in the negative parts of the story.

Step 2: Objectively review the disturbing event and identify the facts.

When Joan practices a surrender to reality she lists the aspects of the incident from an objective stance, including her thoughts and emotions. She is less emotional and focused on the task.

  • The work errors existed. They were bluntly pointed out and I didn’t like that.
  • I understand the errors, but don’t like what felt like the harsh delivery.
  • It’s challenging to speak up when I’m in these kind of meetings and I chose to be careful vs. reactive as I was aware of feeling overwhelmed.
  • I did ask for more clarification about some of the supervisor’s critique. That helped.
  • I hate this part of my work relationship.  But I admire the work of the firm, the supervisor’s reputation and want the association.          

Step 3: Ask yourself: What’s available now?

Now Joan considers what’s possible because she has cleared the path. The tornado dissipates and she looks up. There’s a door. She opens it and the colors are lovely. It’s like Dorothy opening the door to OZ!

So, surrendering to reality and  breathing in the possibilities Joan says:

  • I can enjoy the learning because my supervisor is top in her field. She’s a good person. I respect her. She respects me as well.
  • I already know her style is on the abrupt side, so I can prepare myself in advance of our meetings to her style which isn’t personal to me.
  • I can share my own critique with my supervisor vs. wait for the supervisor’s comments. I accept she will probably come across harsh to me due to her direct, blunt style. It’s her style.
  • Prepared with questions and an openness to learn, I can be the chooser of where I focus rather than the reactor. 
  • Who knows? An opportunity to acknowledge the mental gymnastics I successfully practice may happen someday with my supervisor. 

Joan already has her ruby-red slippers on and because she has surrendered already, she just taps them and she’s home. She’s home with her resources to problem solve and can take those steps needed to find her way in what has become a rainbow of possibilities. She is free to focus her energy on helpful actions today rather than debating the past.

You can too.

Your takeaway:

When you are stuck on that yellow brick road toward your dreams, surrender to the reality, accept what is and notice that you are home, free with the refreshing energy to focus your efforts on what’s useful.

And like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, you always have your ruby-red slippers to transport you home. Empower yourself. You can free yourself, get unstuck and focus your next steps by surrendering to reality.

Psssst- you now know the secret: surrender to reality.

(It’s ok to share.)

For more ideas to help your self-care efforts, download the Say NO Checklist too.

I’d like to ask: How do you experience being stuck?  What strategies help you get unstuck?

I’d love to hear from you. Comment below.


Mary Franz LCSW, PCC  is a couple’s therapist, critical incident responder, and personal strategy coach. Need to talk about a personal or business relationship challenge? Visit her website and ask for a complimentary strategy session.