As we move into the fourth and final way to understand why people stay stuck, psychologically speaking, we have to consider the totality of the human experience, as that is what spirituality is all about. We have moved from the biological aspects up through the interpersonal. Now we are moving onto the spiritual.
Spirituality is difficult concept to process and define, but I shall do my best. Please do not confuse the spiritual with the religious. Religion isn’t really suited for a discussion based in science. How does spirituality fit into the picture, then? “Casey,” you might be thinking, “I thought spirituality and science were antagonistic to each other.” Well, inherently, no, they are not antagonistic and most of us in the mental health field understand that spiritual health is an important facet of psychological health.
But let me back up. Let me see if I can define spirituality and how it relates to the idea of being stuck. Social scientists have come to see spirituality as the way a person sees herself and her experience in a broader ontological context. In other words, how do you believe your life fits into humanity and history as a whole. Victor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor and founder of logostherapy (“Meaning therapy”) wrote a book called “Man’s Search for Meaning,”1 and in it, describes how finding meaning in your life can allow you to live happily and move forward psychologically, even if your body is physically stuck. Meaning and purpose allow you to have hope, to see the positive aspects of a painful situation, and see the best in yourself.
When we find ourselves “stuck”, in the spiritual sense, we have lost our meaning in life or our understanding of our purpose has become distorted. Maybe cannot connect our personal experience to the whole of humanity or what there is a conflict in our values and what we think our purpose is. For example, if a person believes she does not matter as a person or that what she is doing with her life hurts others, she will have a difficult time being psychologically healthy. She may start to feel trapped in her own life. She may find herself stuck.
I think we’ve all had moments of being stuck in the spiritual sense. It’s certainly easy to see the trickle down effect on the rest of levels. Your relationships, thoughts and even your brain will suffer when you don’t feel like your life is worthwhile.
Hopefully, through these brief discussions on why we stay stuck, you can see how we find ourselves locked in depressed and anxious states. Maybe it’s because our brain have changed. Maybe it’s because we’re in a cycle. Or maybe it’s because we lack meaning and purpose in our lives.
The next question, of course, is how do we get out? How do we unstick ourselves and finally feel better. Well, stay tuned for the next post! We’ll cover the different ways you can intervene at all the different levels.1 Frankl, V.E. (1985). Man’s search for meaning. New York City: Simon and Schuster, Inc.