Even if you’re not a science geek, you might have heard the following in one form or another:
An object at rest tends to stay at rest, and an object in motion
tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force.
- Sir Isaac Newton
This is known as the Law of Inertia. Inertia means something remains unchanged. According to this law, intervention is required to cause an immobile object to begin moving or to cause a moving object to change course. We are human beings – not objects – however, there is some truth in the Law of Inertia that can be applied to help us get un-stuck or make a change of direction.
If we’ve lived long enough, most of us occasionally find ourselves overwhelmed and stuck -- whether for a day or a season. Unfortunately, some people find themselves stuck for decades.
But take heart! Being stuck can be a detour; it does not have to be a destination.
The catalyst for change can begin with a simple shift in the way we think of things. Often, we believe that if circumstances would just change or other people would comply with our way of seeing things that things would be better – that I would be un-stuck. Well, that might feel true. But where does the power lie with those perspectives?
Other people, not me, have the power in that kind of thinking. How much power do we have over how other people think, behave, and treat us? That’s right – ZERO! We are often powerless over external circumstances. Does that leave us essentially stuck? No!
Anxiety tells us that if we can’t forecast tomorrow, assure the outcome with absolute certainty, and control the situation it’s going to be catastrophic. (Anxiety is a stinking liar, by the way). But what a terrifying perspective, right? Because if it’s going to be catastrophic, all of my energy – and potentially a lot of my should-be sleep time – gets dedicated to ruminating over how I will predict all possible eventualities, develop a plan for each and every one of them, control how others will play their parts and react, and fret over it all going absolutely perfectly. The result: exhaustion, frustration, and more anxiety OR we begin to avoid everything because we recognize our inability to actually control any of it. Guess who wins? Yeah, anxiety wins. Every time.
Depression tells us that the current situation is hopeless, and things will never change. That life as I know it is over and it will never get better. And if it’s never getting better, who cares, why try, and I might as well just eat a gallon of ice cream, binge on television, or sleep 20 hours a day. When I do those things, my fears are confirmed. Nothing has changed, it still looks hopeless, my friends are out having a good time, and nobody seems to even notice that I’m not ok. The result? Depression and acting depressed lead to – wait for it – deeper depression.
Marriage difficulties are tough because there are two people acting and reacting to each other, each usually believing that “not me” is the entire problem in the relationship. Typically, each partner walks into the office pointing a finger at the other hoping that the therapist can just change their spouse so everything will be ok. The reality is that both people have contributed to the relationship problems, and both need to work on themselves being a better partner.
For sure, inertia has set in when we are stuck in anxiety, depression, or marital discord. Someone wise once told me, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying”. I’ve come to believe that’s true – there’s no standing still. We are not objects, so Inertia results in deterioration. If we are not working intentionally on growing, we are regressing. So, if any of those sound like where you are today, it’s time to make some choices to get un-stuck. Or maybe you’re moving in the wrong direction and need to make a course correction.
Decide to think differently, tell anxiety to shut up, stop acting depressed, call a friend or family member to talk about it, decide to move your body rather than binge on ice cream and tv, and figure out what it takes to be a great spouse. If you’ve exhausted all of your ideas and resources, or have been struggling for a while, reach out for help.
You most definitely can get un-stuck. And help is just a phone call away.