I get a lot of questions and concerns from people when they feel stuck. In these instances, feeling stuck feels bad to the individual. But there are times when people like being stuck. They like it because they have gotten something in life that they really want, and they want to hold onto that. When this happens, the spiritual path can be viewed as a threat to this thing, relationship, or situation that has come into their life. At which point, the individual may stop their spiritual practice and otherwise halt any kind of inner inquiry.

Given what society teaches and the depths of those unconscious teachings, a lot of ego ideas ensnare people, and that goes on for a long time on the spiritual path. A person has to connect with a lot of freedom and transcend a lot of inner issues before they see just how trapped they are. Thus, it is very easy for most spiritual seekers to find a reason to stop especially if growth is appearing to be harder and asking them to give up more things.

For those who have awakened, they may be exhausted. Because spiritual awakening tends to choose you instead of the other way around, many people feel forced onto the spiritual path, and as such, many who awaken have just been waiting for an exit to appear on this spiritual freeway. When they see it, they accelerate for the off-ramp as soon as they can.

Clearly, I am interested in people being completely free. But don’t assume that I hold it against anyone for liking a sticking point. Especially for those who awaken and slog through intense inner trauma, it is completely human to want to stop dealing with so much pain. It’s hard. That’s just how inner healing and growth tend to be even if there isn’t trauma. So today, I wanted to offer some compassion for those who prefer to be stuck as well as encouragement–and you knew this was coming–for continuing in your spiritual work.

Finally, a Pause in the Spiritual Storm

If you had a spontaneous spiritual awakening–and as far as I know all awakenings are spontaneous–then you got thrown into a whole world you may not have even known had existed. I repeatedly encourage anyone who has this gift given to them to see it as a gift and to embrace it. There is so much needless pain and suffering people live in, and we live in it with no idea of how badly things are going for us. This is in part because we have become masters of delusion. We delude ourselves into thinking we’re happy, and we numb ourselves to avoid any kind of upset feeling from disturbing our delusion. So when that delusion is ripped away and the old self-numbing practices stop working, you are thrust in the midst of an amazingly uncomfortable inner shit storm.

It’s not fun.

This, of course, leads the individual to make a choice to embrace this change or to avoid it. Naturally, many people try to do the one foot in and one foot out method of trying to embrace things that they think benefit them and avoid those that don’t. This tends to lead to all kinds of issues because it’s like holding onto two horses galloping in opposite directions. It can lead to all kinds of those spiritual awakening symptoms that get discussed a lot on other websites. Apathy, loss of energy, and others that are often common anyway are made ten times worse. This is partially because the individual can’t settle at a new level of understanding when a part of them is still holding back. But after all these shifts and changes, a pause in the spiritual storm does tend to come. At which point, the individual may decide that they’ve made it; they’re done with it; or they can finally escape it.

And who can blame them?

Fear Still Clouding the Mind

The mind is a very powerful force. We’ve done amazing things with our minds and learned to create all kinds of things in this world. But a mind clouded by fear is a dangerous one. It’s decision-making capabilities are impaired. In many respects, fear is its own kind of mind-altering drug–partially because fear is a bunch of hormones and neurotransmitters in our bodies. When we’re fear-impaired, we don’t think well, and when we aren’t seeing life clearly, we make decisions based on ignorance.

Since all kinds of fear is ignited and brought to the surface in awakening for a variety of reasons, choosing to want to stay stuck is not coming from a place of clarity. It is typically coming from an idea that you are losing something or are being hurt in some way. As I’ve mentioned plenty of times before, there can be a lot of discomfort in healing. Breaking a bone that has been set wrong is a tough time, and there are lots of people who have been hurt and healed improperly. What do I mean by this? Well, sometimes, healing ends up being a form of masking the deeper pain or a person continues to be angry at the situation or person who caused them a lot of pain initially. They may act out in unhealthy ways and do more the self-numbing that I’ve mentioned. In these instances, it is clear that there are wounds that have not healed properly if at all. So awakening and the energy that is unleashed breaks through these outer ideas and scabs to cut straight to the bone.

Once healed, people can see how helpful all of this is, but the earlier in the healing process someone is, the more ready they are to stop if things intensify. So, stopping whenever a break seems possible becomes the “logical” conclusion to the unconscious ego mind because it can’t see clearly how you are being helped.

Here’s some more on the topic of sabotaging healing:

Sabotaging the Healing Process and Running When It Gets Tough

Getting What You Think You Want

Another aspect of why people want to stay stuck is that they got something that they thought they really wanted. I say it as “they thought they really wanted” because most of our ideas are taught to us. They may not be what we truly want. But when society is telling you over and over again that you are supposed to go to college, get a good job, get a spouse, start a family, raise a family, retire, and die, then hitting one of those big milestones seems like success (with the notable exception of the last).

For instance, you meet someone whom you consider to be a soulmate, the tendency is to hold on for dear life.

“Ah ha! Yes! I’ve found the one for me!”

This is all social programming. Perhaps this person will stay with you for a long time, but all relationships end. And all relationships should evolve. But the unconscious ego wants to hold onto most things like a drowning victim clutches anything floating in the sea. So if a soulmate is meant to be in your life for a few months to help you grow, then this individual will cling to the other person when s/he should be letting go. This can certainly be true of your partner too, so here are two people holding on to each other instead of growing. They are committed to the idea that they have what they want, and people are amazingly good at convincing themselves that they are in “love.” This is another level of ignorance as most romantic love is very juvenile and is based on a few fun experiences and sex. Love is so much more profound, and that is often the lesson a soulmate brings to you. Part of that lesson is often about letting go, but most egos won’t see that.

There are other things that people think they should have including a good job, a dream job, or maybe just a job, depending on the person. Holding on is one of the primary ways many people get stuck.

Inability to Commit to the Next Step

Conversely, instead of holding on, some people can’t commit to the next step. It may look too big and too scary to do, and the current situation in their life seems “safe” enough. So these people avoid the “scary” decisions, even when some of those decisions really aren’t that monumental. The unconscious ego can make a lot of things seem a lot bigger than they are, and if something is placed in the “scary” box, then the person feels unsafe. And feeling safe is one of the primary goals of the unconscious ego.

In its essence, safety is often just familiarity. Only when we understand that our ideas of safety are illusory can we begin to transcend the thousands of ways we seek safety. Thus, sometimes the next phase of inner growth looks like climbing a mountain, and maybe you do have a big inner mountain to climb. But the trap of safety and/or the inability to commit to yourself deprives you of a so much more expansive life. People truly don’t know how much wonder, joy, love, and truth resides within them. This preference for familiarity is an all too common trap and way people decide that being stuck is preferable to forging out into the unknown of inner growth.

Stuck Is Different Than a Lull in Shifts

I do want to emphasize that choosing to be stuck is different than experiencing a lull in spiritual shifts. There are times when the inner intensity lessons. There are times when you move into more gentle shifts and lulls, but all of this comes from an ongoing space of flow. There is no resistance to the current moment. There is no preference to stay in some particular way, relationship, or situation. You are still very much alive, shifting, and changing. You are open to the life within you and around you.

On the opposite side, choosing to be stuck requires effort, avoidance, and/or negligence to what you know about yourself. While anything is possible as far as how much someone can delude themselves, I think most people know where their growth lies. They know when they’re resisting the next step or some new phase. They know when they’re holding onto a job, relationship, living situation, or something else that no longer serves them. And it’s this self-honesty that is key to getting unstuck.

Embracing Discomfort and the Unknown

I don’t know that I can emphasize it anymore than I have done already on this spiritual blog. To grow and to change often means embracing discomfort. That’s often the only way to break through old mental patterns, emotional patterns, and behavioral patterns. On the other side of it–as many of you know–is increased freedom. So holding on and choosing to stop growing is a kind of slavery. It’s a slavery to ideas you may not fully understand. It is a slavery to your pain. It is a denial of the life force inside of you that is trying to help you grow and to flower in this life time. This is what it ultimately means to choose to be stuck.

Spiritual Healing Techniques for Moments of Intense Discomfort

But as I said before, I understand. I understand that crawling on your hands and knees through the glass and rusty nails of your unconscious ego is not fun. It is not in the top 100 list of things that anyone wants to do. But it is rewarding. The life of an open-hearted and open soul person is phenomenal. It is not easy in the way the unconscious ego thinks it wants your life to be.

Life isn’t about easiness. It’s about living.

The more you can distinguish those two things–ease and aliveness–the more you may realize what choice best serves you. The more you understand this, the more you may see that being alive is a short ride anyway and that ease reduces your aliveness. Choosing the easy path often deadens you to the wonders within and around you. And perhaps in realizing all of this, you will be ready to move past this spiritual sticking point and whatever you are holding on to embrace this next phase in your spiritual growth.


I'm a spiritual teacher who helps people find freedom from suffering.


  1. Thank you. I'm the one that commented on the fear of letting go about a "traumatic" experience. It seemed that way at the time but it was just really difficult. Far more difficult than hurdle I've overcome in life. I'm going to read your spiritual healing techniques for moments of intense discomfort now. I'm glad. I can get through this, slowly, but I can get through this. I feel empty about the world around me. I dont know if I should be scared or excited, but I know I have a whole lot of work to do. Thank you so so so much for all of your help. I don't know what I would be thinking or feeling without reading your blogposts for guidance. I make it a point to take everything I read with a grain of salt so when I say guidance I'm really just thanking you for pointing me in a direction. Now I have to take the steps myself. Looking forward (my ego certainly won't be) to moving on. God bless 🙏

  2. You're welcome. Regular meditation, mindful breathing, and journaling are important steps to take, and as I mentioned in a previous comment, asking for help from a counselor/therapist feels important for you right now. They can help you understand the ego at the level of the mind. That'll prepare you for more deeply understanding your ego at the levels of heart, body, and subtle energy/spirit.

  3. Ah so helpful, thank you Jim. This helps me remember to lean into whatever the present is bringing including the pain that my ego wants to avoid. It reminds me that flow is preferable to stuckness and being alive is preferable to ease. It comforts me to keep going, keep opening, keep 'just being'.

    And it helps me understand more and with more compassion, when others (or my past self) have chosen to stay stuck.

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