Parenting Through Stuck Spots

Every parent has them. In fact, every *person* has them:

Stuck spots. 

You know, those difficult things that, try as you might, they just don’t get better…?

The spot might be reducing your weight, improving your finances, or some tricky thing about your health. Or maybe it’s related to parenting: perhaps it’s the bedtime struggle (why can’t they just brush their teeth already??),  after school grumpiness, or perhaps the worst of all: when they won’t sleep.

Spots like these seem to taunt us, nearly drive us mad.

And perhaps the stuckness feels so big it can’t honestly be called a “spot.” Sometimes the whole landscape of life feels like dried concrete. Usually our thoughts spiral into bad neighborhoods when it’s like that. “What’s wrong with me??” or “What’s wrong with them?? This will *never* change!!”

So, this is what I know about stuckness (and believe me, I know a lot about it!).

Stuckness never really gets into a state of “flow” or ease by attempts to push harder, try more, or becoming “better.” Not when the stuck spot is bedtime or toothbrushing, and not when the stuckness is  your relationship with your mother-in-law. Strain never improves stuckness. It’s like a fundamental law of the universe, or something.

The experience of stuckness itself requires some amount of attention, acceptance even, before anything new can happen.

And if my just saying this ticks you off (“How the heck am I supposed to *accept* this gawdawful behavior???????”) you are on the right track. Be pissed, be very f*cking pissed. Outwardly, that is.

We sometimes have to vent like crazy about how nothing ever works, how we’ve tried everything, and it’s totally hopeless, before we have any hope of a new approach making its way in to the stuck rut that has become our thinking/feeling state regarding the stuck matter. But in order to make sure you aren’t just digging the “nothing works” rut deeper, you have to really move the energy of it.

Did you just get all California on me and talk about moving energy? Yes, yes I did. Go ahead. Roll those eyes, but then do this:

Vent. Loudly, crudely, outlandishly. Vent till you are sweaty. Vent till you are in tears. Vent till you rattle the windows of the house (I actually did that once; you should have seen my neighbors face when I walked out to the car later!). But if you can’t vent loud, for whatever reason–either it feels fake, or you aren’t ready to shock the neighbors–at least tap while you vent. Because your body needs to get some energy moving around that “nothing works” spot or you will just dig the groove deeper.

Let me say here, though: please please please don’t vent to your kids!! Don’t even vent near them. (But if you accidentally do, (and we’ve all been there), please watch this video I made called Art of Apology about how to do the emotional clean up afterward).

Ultimately, the place we want to get to with stuck spots is a place of having spaciousness around the stuckness. Things *do* get stuck. But nothing *remains* stuck in place–not even entire Empires, defended by armies and self-promoting propagandas, not even they remain stuck. Stuck things move. When we are ready to sit down in the seat of the self and just gaze at that stuckness for a bit with an attitude of welcome, that’s the beginning of something new and even surprising happening.

Go ahead, cozy up to your stuck spots and make friends with them. I can tell you that the most entrenched stuck spots can become doors to a new wonderful land of possibility right on the other side.

Yes, even with toothbrushing at bedtime.

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