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Are you feeling trapped or stuck in an unhappy situation?

“Any action is often better than no action, especially if you have been stuck in an unhappy situation for a long time. If it is a mistake, at least you learn something, in which case it's no longer a mistake. If you remain stuck, you learn nothing.”
Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

Of course, feeling trapped is a state of mind. No one needs consent to leave an unhappy situation. Millions of people remain in unhappy situations that range from empty to abusive for many reasons; however, the feeling of suffocation or of having no choices stems from fear that’s often unconscious.

People give many explanations for staying in bad situations, ranging from caring for young children, caring for a sick mate, fear of loosing income, fear things could get worse and sometimes simply not knowing what to do, indecision.

One man was too afraid and guilt-ridden to leave his ill wife (11 years his senior). His ambivalence made him so distressed, he died before she did! Money binds couples, too, especially in a bad economy. Yet, more affluent couples may cling to a comfortable lifestyle, while their marriage dissolves into a business arrangement.

Despite the abundance of reasons, many of which are realistic, there are deeper, unconscious ones that keep people trapped – usually fears.

Guilt about leaving an unhappy situation may be due to the fact that appropriate encourage in childhood was never received and this could create emotional separation anxiety. Although the negative impact of shame is real, sometimes worries may also be projections of fears from our lineage, our parents believe systems.

Lack of Autonomy

Autonomy implies being an emotionally secure, separate, and independent person. The lack of autonomy not only makes separation difficult, it naturally also makes people more dependent upon others. The consequence is that people feel trapped or “on the fence” and wracked with ambivalence. On one hand, they crave freedom and independence; on the other hand, they want the security – even bad ones. Autonomy doesn’t mean you don’t need others. In fact, it allows you to experience healthy dependence on others without the fear of suffocation.

Examples of psychological autonomy include:

  1. You don’t feel lost and empty when you’re alone.
  2. You don’t feel responsible for others’ feelings and actions.
  3. You don’t take things personally.
  4. You can make decisions on your own.
  5. You have your own opinions and values and aren’t easily suggestible.
  6. You can initiate and do things on your own.
  7. You can say “no” and ask for space.
  8. You have your own friends.
A Way Out of Your Unhappiness

The way out may not require leaving the situation. Freedom is an inside job. Develop a support system and become more independent and assertive. Take responsibility for your happiness by developing your passions instead of focusing on the situation. Practice more about becoming assertive, speaking your mind, setting your boundaries and don't forget self-care. Care for ourselves is the greatest way to happiness.

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