self love, self-love, get unstuck, heal,

How to Get Unstuck

Sometimes we work so hard and keep showing up and still aren’t where we want to be.

Take my client, Grace, for instance.

She’s been sick for twenty-five years, mostly without a diagnosis. (And, to be fair, we still don’t have “a diagnosis,” we’ve got a chronic problem that’s created a wide path of destruction—it’s no longer “a diagnosis” but a constellation of dysfunctions, all needing our attention to heal).

We’ve worked hard and taken solid steps forward. Then always seem to slide back a few. Like we’ve made no progress.

But I’ve learned from years of experience never to judge what things look like on the surface. Often there’s very real, deep progress that we just can’t feel yet. Or there’s deep emotional or spiritual progress that was needed before the physical changes can occur.

Grace and I spoke recently. Most observers would say we’re stuck in a big ‘ol rut. She feels terrible. She’s been too tired and hopeless to prepare even minimally decent food and barely manages her most basic needs. Her life has been focused on chasing pain, exhaustion, and demoralization. Doing the best she can.

I could see a path. A way out of pain and exhaustion.

But it wasn’t hers. It could work, but it’s not my work to do.

We spoke of her pain, exhaustion, and current circumstances. It felt like one big standstill with a series of impossible roadblocks.

Then I remembered: “stuck” is always a story.

I wouldn’t let it be my story—I know there’s always a way, even when I can’t see it.

I felt resolved in that moment to help her find her story—a new healing story. Without a healing story to show her what’s possible, she’d stay stuck in pain, exhaustion, and hopelessness.

But we had to keep this simple. Something she could manage.

And most important: the story had to be hers. We had to access her inner wisdom.

I suggested we set aside the to-do list we’d come up with in our previous discussions—to-do lists she couldn’t accomplish.

Instead, I taught her a simple heart-centered meditation she could do multiple times each day to help her access her wise inner self. The inner self who knows what to do. Who could help her create a new healing story. Who could help her heal.

Sit with hands over your heart. Close your eyes softly and breathe deeply into your heart, your place of wisdom. Maintain your focus within your heart and continue to breathe deeply for as long as you can. Be in your heart.

Once you are there, do three things:

  • affirm your healing and wisdom to know what to do,
  • ask for help, and
  • listen.

Once you’ve finished with each session, continue to be on the lookout for guidance that may arise at any time even if you don’t hear it immediately. It may arrive as a thought or inspiration, something someone says to you, something you read, a dream, from anywhere. Write all this guidance down.

We planned to talk again in two weeks.

When we finished our conversation, she felt empowered.

I could hear the rising buoyancy in her voice—clearly no longer stuck.

And rather than leaving her with a set of expectations she felt doomed to fail at, she took her healing into her own hands, she claimed a strategy she felt she could accomplish successfully, and she chose a way that resonated strongly with her—of going in deep to find her very own inner truth and guidance. Not mine. Not her family’s. Hers.

By the time we hung up the phone, she was already creating her healing story.

I can’t wait to hear the rest.

What can you do to create (or build upon) your healing story today?

Have a Beautiful week!


p.s. Grace and I spoke a couple of week after this initial conversation, and guess what? She nailed it! She absolutely had a direction that felt good and right for her. We’re working on that now. Love how this works!

p.p.s. I love the ideas of stories—choices we make, decisions we implement—to unlock our health and healing. Our stories are the most powerful medicine. Join me for a deep dive into stories that heal with my series of articles and new ebook on how to empower your healing story.


Karyn Shanks MD. Your Healing Story. 2019.

Karyn Shanks MD. Empower Your Healing Story. 2019.

Karyn Shanks MD


Karyn Shanks, MD, is a physician who lives and practices in Iowa City. Her work is inspired by the revolutionary science of Functional Medicine, body-mind wisdom, and the transformational journeys of thousands of clients over her twenty-eight year career. She believes that the bones of healing are in what we do for ourselves.

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