Getting Unstuck

Getting UnstuckYou want to spend more time with him. He says he loves you and wants to spend more time with you too.

But he’s not making any adjustments to his schedule. No matter how many times you talk to him about it, the situation doesn’t change.

The problem appears to have no solution. You’re stuck.

Being stuck is no fun. Whatever the issue, big or small, here are two ways to get unstuck.

1. Break it Down

This is a classic problem-solving technique. It works well with problems that feel big and unwieldy. The kind of problems that leave you feeling overwhelmed just thinking about them.

Take the problem and break it down into a series of smaller problems.

Most big problems are a bunch of little problems all clustered together. When you break those little problems apart, you can then choose one and work on solving it.

Take the example above. He’s not spending as much time with you as you’d like. One of the smaller problems might be that he doesn’t even use a schedule, so whatever is most urgent gets the lion’s share of his time and attention. Dive into that problem. Is he open to using a planner to schedule social time in advance?

Or maybe a smaller problem is that he believes the two of you don’t have any recreational preferences in common. Working on that subcomponent of the larger problem might get you “unstuck.”

Solve that problem and it could take care of the bigger issue. If the problem persists, look for the next small problem and tackle it. The more you master the smaller pieces of the big problem, the more the situation will yield to your efforts to create positive change.

2. Consider Why You’re Stuck

Here’s another trick for becoming “unstuck” with a seemingly insurmountable problem.

Write down the reason a solution won’t work. “The reason talking with him about the issue won’t work is because ________ (fill in the blank).”

Try this with several different solutions that you know won’t work. Often, this mental exercise helps you to see beyond the sticking point. It guides your mind to think on a deeper level about why a solution won’t work.

Thinking about why a solution won’t work sometimes allows your mind to perceive layers of the problem that you had been ignoring or had not considered before. Insight into these root level considerations can reveal avenues to move forward.

Lists allow us to take something complex and see it differently. Sometimes the added insight sheds light on an unexpected solution.

Write down each solution you know won’t fix the current problem. Then, beside each failed solution, write down why it won’t work.

Often this mental exercise will help you see beyond the sticking point. It guides you to think on a deeper level. Knowing why previous attempts failed can lead to an epiphany.

Getting UnstuckWhen you’re stuck, don’t give up. While feeling stuck is frustrating, there’s almost always a solution. The trick is finding it.

These two techniques will help you look at the issue with fresh eyes, and sometimes that’s all it takes.

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11 thoughts on “Getting Unstuck

  1. Maria said:

    Thanks for sharing this, its very useful technique for solving any kind of problem in life and I am going to try out.

  2. Preeti Sd said:

    Hi James
    Need your help. I’m a 27 year old girl. A guy came to me saying he likes me and chased me so much that I gave up my stubborn and rude attitude and fell so deeply in love with him that I thought he is the only one who can handle me in my worst, if not him then I’m not going to fall in love again.
    In fact he treated me that well, he helped me from going down into complete depression.
    Now I’m perfectly fine. A pretty, desirable young woman. When I expressed my love to him. He said that I’m exactly like his dream woman. But He was not ready also he said I deserved better. Unaware of such situations I naturally felt bad. But handled myself and started loving myself but I did not walk away from him soon (maybe a mistake?). And he came back again saying he started loving me too. And there happens at times that for some silly reason we stop talking and since I should not be the one chasing I just let him go. And again after a month or max 2 he somehow comes back and says he missed me and is angry for not texting or calling him. I say I’d love it if he initiates that, he says then he’ll follow the same. For few days everything goes normal, in fact with more love, but again it goes very casual, even though I’d be interested and excited while talking to him, all fun flirting teasing, but most of the time he won’t be in mood or sometimes I feel like whether he forgot me he would never text but next day he will and sometimes he will be awake late nights without even texting me hello, where as he’s a hard core early sleeper he never stays up very late while talking to me. I never got a chance to ask him about this in a right way without being desperate or chasing.. He will care and again next day he’ll be talking like Just friends. Also this relationship is not defined yet. As he’s afraid that none of us should get hurt in this, as per his previous first breakup experience. And he is unsure. Also he asked me “what do you think whether our relationship will workout if we get married, whether we will be happy” for which I said we will be happy but I’m also not 100% sure as he’s unsure. For me this is the first serious love experience. Now after reading so many relationship books (some of your books as well) and gaining so much knowledge, I’m confused. Now I’m unsure about being with him though I like him a lot. And one of my nightmares will be to see him with somebody else, which will obviously happen if I let him go/choose to leave him (he’s also afraid of people leaving him).
    And recently in the last few days, he’s mostly silent and not talking much.
    As I know that there are a lot many better people around, I’m not that comfortable yet with dating many guys. Nor am I seeing anybody else at the moment. Seeing my parent’s broken marriage I feel like I want to be alone. And if I get to meet someone else who is completely loving caring and more committed and passionate towards me, I might change my mind. But according to the family and culture, I’m already at the age for marriage. Which I feel I am not ready.
    Utterly confused and lost and feeling stuck.. what to do. Eagerly waiting for your advice on this.

    with warm regards,
    Preeti D

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi! This is a very in-depth question, perfect for the private forum available in the new members area.

  3. Rayan said:

    Hello James
    Yes this is my problem. He doesn’t adjust his schedule. He is a super busy guy who travels a lot as the job nature required. I tried some of the techniques, he loves me but he is too busy. It can be months without seeing each other and when we meet he doesn’t seem to be cold. He says he misses me but when I asked him when we will meet again he says if we find a chance during the next weeks we will meet. This sentence annoys me because I feel he doesn’t make any effort, he just goes with the flow …at the same time we don’t have very good communication via phone or text. He always prefers to meet face to face. I don’t know what is the solution for that.

  4. christine said:

    Sorry I got it. Thanks

  5. christine said:

    Hello James,

    I have been dating my boyfriend for 1.5 years. He was so nice at first then I have noticed he has a short temper and little things bother him. He says he might have seasonal disorder. For example, we last spoke on Monday, neither of us spoke after that. Except I texted him on Wednesday and he texted me today.

    I know you are probably thinking what kind of relationship is this!!?
    Anyways, he is not the phone or texting type.

    So, I texted him today and asked him to call me. Then 20minutes I called him no response. So I waited for his call. When he called I said hello. He asked me what was wrong. Then I said nothing is wrong, I called you to say hello. He responds, okay you didn’t have to call me. I was going to call you when I was done from the shower.

    So I say, okay why are you getting upset! Then I completely froze and told him I will speak with him later. I never did.

    I am just getting so turned off by him. It seems like everything i do is not good enough for him. I feel like I’m walking on egg shells with him.

    Also, my time is precious to me and I want to know where we stand. I don’t want to waste time in a relationship if it’s not going anywhere.

    Please help! how is the best way to bring up the subject when I see him.

    • James Bauer said:

      Hey Christine. This is a good example of something very common that happens in relationships.

      Both partners have an idea of what it means to “act normal.” When those ideas don’t match, one or both partners wonders what’s wrong with the other person. Both partners get a bit of an attitude because, “Why is he/she acting so weird?”

      It often leads to an argument or hurt feelings.

      The solution is simple. Express your positive emotions first (e.g., I really like you). Then express your confusion without a need to prove that his perception of “reality” was the wrong one. Try to adopt a curious mindset. Don’t get caught in the trap where you both start defending the reason you reacted the way you did.


      • christine said:

        Thank you James..

        It’s Saturday afternoon, I have not texted or called him, nor has he.

        I feel like I’m always the one chasing him. For a change I want to see if he even bothers to make a move.

        This will tell me a lot about whether he loves me or not.

        Do you think I am doing the right thing??

        Please advise…

  6. Mal said:

    Dear James,

    I am your typical successful, strong, friendly and smart woman. I can problem-solve as well as any man in a leadership position. My natural,default approach to getting unstuck would be exactly as you outline in the blog under “Break it down”.

    However, I have been advised by other sources to let the man take the lead in such situations. So I have tried presenting them the problem for them to solve. I have also learnt, through my marriage, that I need to take a softer approach when doing all of this. I am quite feminine & charming so I can tap into that soft side successfully, but at times when my approach does not achieve the objective, I find myself getting anxious due to an internal tug-of-war – my upbringing, my education and my career – make me want to react and bring things to a resolution but I am aware that such behaviors end up pushing the men away. So I address the anxiety by tapping into my reserves of patience and immersing myself in other activities. Usually, after a period of patiently waiting in a stuck situation where I have verbalized my desire in a soft, feminine way & possible solutions, (if he seems unable to come up with any) and the guy says he is willing but does not execute; I end up giving up by doing nothing and eventually I find myself uninterested in the guy, because by this time he has demonstrated that he cannot give what i want or alternatives for what I want; thus indicating to me that I am not a priority at all.

    I am unclear on how women like me approach these situations. Do we problem-solve or not? Isn’t the success of the approach in large measure dependent on the guy?

    P.S. I have recently started dating again after being married for 8 years. I do have a history of picking emotionally unavailable men in varying degrees. My ex-husband is one of them, so is my dad. I am trying to break this pattern.

    • James Bauer said:

      Hey Mal.

      For someone with your personality style and leadership gifts, things will look a little different.

      Some men will gravitate to you because they sense your interest in, and willingness, to take charge. Then they will feel confused when you don’t take charge.

      For you, it may work best if you provide the scaffolding, so to speak. Do that by helping him to organize his thoughts and remember to execute on a new plan. Be the one to follow through and remind him what he wants and why he should take action on driving toward something better in the relationship.


    • MsM said:

      Hi Mal, Uncanny. This totally could’ve been written by me except I suspect I’m probably a good 15 or 20 years older than you. The advice from James was good. Put your two sides together and let him think it’s he who’s figuring out the solution, but remind him when he gets off-track what it’s for. I like that James – scaffolding. Good luck to us both.

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