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Jan 12, 2023

In this episode of the Beyond Theory podcast by Meadows Behavioral Healthcare, host Dominic Lawson interviews therapist and author Britt Frank about the pervasive experience of feeling stuck in life. Whether in the context of unfulfilling careers, toxic relationships, or cycles of addiction, feeling stuck is a phenomenon that affects many individuals. Frank shares insights from her book, "The Science of Stuck: Breaking Through Inertia to Find Your Path Forward," emphasizing that stuck points often stem from nervous system dysregulation rather than personal failings.


Frank explains that fight, flight, or freeze responses can manifest as procrastination, lack of motivation, or a sense of paralysis. She advises listeners to validate their stuck state as a first step, rather than shaming themselves. Making small choices to improve one's immediate experience can begin to shift the nervous system out of survival mode. Frank cautions against asking "why" questions when stuck, as this requires higher-order thinking that may be inaccessible. Instead, she recommends focusing on "what" questions - what small actions could help regulate the nervous system in the moment.


The conversation also touches on the role of anxiety as an uncomfortable but important signal, akin to a check engine light in a car. Frank advises against numbing anxiety, as this cuts off a vital feedback system alerting us to problems that need attention. The discussion also delves into the impact of toxic relationships, whether with intimate partners, family members, or in the workplace, in keeping individuals stuck. Frank emphasizes the importance of understanding the underlying needs these dynamics may be meeting in order to begin shifting them.


Throughout the episode, Frank returns to the idea that everyone's challenges make sense in context. She encourages listeners to remind themselves, "I'm not crazy, my stuff makes sense," as a powerful reframe. Lawson and Frank also discuss the transformative work being done at The Meadows, a world-renowned behavioral health treatment center. Frank, an alumna of The Meadows program, credits it with saving her life and informing much of her current work as a therapist.



Key Takeaways:


1. Feeling stuck in life, whether in relationships, career, or addiction, often stems from nervous system dysregulation rather than personal character flaws.


2. Validating one's stuck state is a crucial first step in getting unstuck, rather than engaging in self-shame or blame.


3. Making small, manageable choices to feel slightly better in the moment can help shift the nervous system out of survival mode and promote progress.


4. Focusing on "what" questions, rather than "why" questions, is more effective when feeling stuck, as it engages the present moment rather than requiring inaccessible higher-order thinking.


5. Anxiety, while uncomfortable, serves as an important signal alerting us to problems that need attention, similar to a check engine light in a car. Numbing anxiety removes this vital feedback system.


6. Toxic relationships, whether with intimate partners, family, or in the workplace, can contribute to feeling stuck. Understanding the underlying needs these dynamics meet is key to creating change.


7. Reframing one's challenges as making sense in context, rather than as evidence of being "crazy," is a powerful cognitive shift that promotes self-understanding and compassion.


8. The Meadows behavioral health treatment center offers transformative, holistic care that addresses root causes and helps individuals get unstuck from mental health and addiction challenges.


This episode of Beyond Theory offers a compassionate and scientifically-grounded perspective on the common human experience of feeling stuck. It provides validation, practical strategies, and a message of hope for those struggling with mental health challenges, addiction, or feelings of stagnation in their lives. By sharing insights from both personal and clinical experience, Britt Frank and Dominic Lawson offer a valuable resource for anyone seeking to break free from cycles of inertia and move forward on their path.