March 29, 2012

Learning how to break free from stuck places

By Cindy O’Neil

Ever feel as though you’re teetering from one emotional juggernaut to another, to another and so on? And that no matter how many times you decide to change your behavior, you end up walking face first into the same life situations?

Regardless of age or culture, change is something most of us will go out of our way to avoid despite even the most horrendous of situations. In cases of health and addiction—where the smallest of changes can result in life or death—it’s not always as simple as wanting to change because choice and perspective can often be compromised. When we don’t have an understanding of why we’re doing something, recovery from it can be that much more challenging.

So, how do you start to understand what’s behind the actions that keep you stuck?

In her book, Your Next Change: Guidebook for the Stuck Places, author Fenna A. Schaapman addresses the issue using core concepts that show people how to spot their hang-ups to change in real time.

“By being able to name what is happening, you will also be able to choose a more effective response instead of wondering how you fell into the same trap, again,” Schaapman tells readers in her introduction.

Schaapman found herself in stuck places so many times throughout her years that she wrote the book via trial and error. She is what you might call a change specialist— the kind of change that is deeply ingrained and hide in our subconscious with such stealth that it can routinely ambush our best intentions. This is why Your Next Change: Guidebook for the Stuck Places is comprised of core concepts. Having been the pilot-tester for each concept, she learned that true change requires continual interaction.

The concepts were developed by Schaapman during 18 years of coaching, facilitating workshops and mentoring. They were then applied and refined throughout four years of working in a long-term recovery center for women with addictions. It was in this setting that she was given direct feedback from clients regarding the concepts. She says “… once they got a concept, and decided to act on it, they actually didn’t need a lot of direction in order to apply it. Once the light of understanding showed them the stuck place, they applied their own creative solutions to their unique situation.”

I purchased the guidebook as a gift for a friend who is ready to work through some life-long issues. He wants to change but keeps getting caught in emotional loopholes, often missing the moments where choice comes in. In my ongoing state of recovery from severe rheumatoid arthritis, change and choice have an incredible impact on my life and wellbeing. Thinking that I might pick up a few tips, I took a glance through and ended up reading it before wrapping it.

I appreciated her “kick you in the butt” sense of humor. With that, Schaapman makes clear that the point of Your Next Change: Guidebook for the Stuck Places is to help you identify what a stuck place looks and feels like, what stuck places are and how to begin to shift out of them.

Schaapman does however understand that at some points you’ll fall down, relapse or use distraction to avoid change in your situation. And when you reach that point, she says, “It is also meant as an encouragement.”

Cindy O’Neil is an author and freelance writer who has been living with rheumatoid arthritis for more than 12 years. To contact her, visit

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