How To Stop Feeling Stuck: Letting Go And Moving Forward

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC
Updated April 17, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include abuse which could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is experiencing abuse, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Free support is available 24/7. Please also see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Feeling stuck in a relationship, job, traumatic situation, or your mind can be challenging. When you're unsure how to move forward or let go, it can lead to a cycle of overthinking, stress, and conflict. However, there are several ways you can start to process these feelings and understand what decision you might want to make. You're not alone, so give yourself time to understand your needs, and consider speaking to a counselor if you cannot move past this situation.

Do you need to move on from an unhealthy relationship?

Why is it difficult to let go of an unhealthy relationship?

If you are facing or witnessing abuse of any kind, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 for support. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or text "START" to 88788. You can also use the online chat

Some people stay in unhealthy relationships for longer than they want to. The reasons can vary, but some may fear leaving a partner for their children's sake, because they still love the person, or due to safety threats. Toxic relationships often involve a push-pull dynamic, which can also be enticing. If you receive love from a partner in one moment and are treated poorly by others, it might lead to you pining for love at all times, feeling like you're not enough, or trying to find ways to reconnect. 

Other people may stay in unhealthy relationships because of low self-esteem or because an abusive partner has convinced them they are the problem. Some people stay for financial reasons or because they are worried about being alone. Others might stay with someone due to their religious beliefs about divorce or breaking up. 

You're not alone if you're struggling to let go of your relationship. However, if you're experiencing abuse, it is essential to receive support. Talking to a hotline and finding local resources can get you started on a new relationship with yourself, even if you're not ready yet. 

How to stop feeling stuck in past events and make the decision to move forward 

Feeling stuck can lead to resentment, confusion, or emotional pain. In some cases, it can be a sign of an underlying mental health condition like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Still, there are some at-home coping mechanisms you can try to focus on your desire to move forward and make a decision for your future, whether you're still in an unhealthy situation or are coping with feelings from the past. 

Journal and reflect

Studies have showcased that expressive writing, like journaling, can have significant mental health benefits. If you're struggling to let go, consider giving yourself time to reflect. Journal about your feelings, thoughts, and experiences. Let everything out on paper and see where it takes you. You don't have to make a decision until you're ready. You might find that after a few months of journaling daily, you can look back on your experiences and understand them more profoundly.  

Ask yourself questions

Self-reflection can also involve asking yourself questions about your priorities, goals, and needs. Whether you're currently in an unhealthy situation, confused about how to move forward, or living with traumatic memories, ask the following questions and see where it leads you: 

  • What is the most significant factor holding me back from moving on? 
  • What person or people have contributed to me feeling stuck?
  • Is my feeling of being stuck related to my challenges or how others have treated me? 
  • Do I fear commitment, intimacy, or connection? 
  • Do I fear letting go, losing someone, or being alone? 
  • Am I in a situation where letting go would be unsafe for me? 
  • Would I benefit from more time reflecting on my needs before I move forward? 
  • Do I often struggle with making decisions?
  • Why are decisions difficult for me? 
  • What trait do I most admire in others, and how could I use that trait in this situation?

When you reflect, try not to come up with the "right" answer. In some cases, just jotting down the questions and expanding on them with more questions can be helpful. 

The practice of asking yourself questions without answering them is a skill from radically open dialectical behavior therapy (RO-DBT), which is a form of DBT focused on letting go of control. The skill is called self-enquiry. As you read back the questions you've come up with, you might find patterns in the themes that lead to natural answers. 

Fully process what occurred

Some people struggle to let go because of unresolved trauma or difficult memories with someone or themselves. If you don't label your emotions, understand your thoughts, and know why the situation hurt you, it can be more difficult to release these challenging experiences. Process what occurred by considering the following steps:
  • Label your emotions without judgment
  • Understand why your emotions occurred
  • Take responsibility for any mistakes you've made, and forgive yourself
  • Understand that you cannot change the actions of others
  • Try a "ritual" like a candle burning or "cord-cutting" to signal the end of a relationship that harmed you or the end of a phase of your life
  • Write about your feelings
  • Write a letter to someone who hurt you, and don't send it
  • Talk to a trauma-informed therapist 

Try a pros and cons chart

If you're feeling stuck because you don't know how to make a decision, you might benefit from a pros and cons chart, which is a skill you can find in the dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) workbook. Add four squares to your chart and label them with the following:

  • Pros of making the decision I'm afraid of 
  • Cons of making the decision I'm afraid of
  • Pros of not making the decision I'm afraid of
  • Cons of not making the decision I'm afraid of 

Looking at all sides of a situation can make it easier to understand where you might benefit from growth. 


Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice focused on being present in the moment and aware of your bodily sensations. Studies have proven that mindfulness can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression and increase mental well-being. To get started, you can try a guided meditation through a mindfulness app and learn how deep breathing, sensory awareness, and grounding might support you in letting go. 

Try radical acceptance 

Radical acceptance is another skill from DBT that might be useful. This skill can be used when you cannot control an outcome or when controlling an outcome is unhealthy. It is offered in the distress tolerance section of the DBT workbook and is often focused on helping those with intense emotions understand and face the situations they struggle to face. You can practice it through the following steps: 

  1. Observe how you might be questioning or fighting your reality.
  2. Remind yourself that your reality cannot be changed in this situation.
  3. Try to note any causes for the reality. Acknowledge that you may not have control over the behaviors of others or the causes of your distress. 
  4. Practice acceptance with your mind, body, and spirit. Use positive self-talk to tell yourself you are willing to accept this situation, even if it is difficult.
  5. List all the behaviors you'd partake in if you already accepted this situation. Then act this way until you find it aligns with your reality.
  6. Cope ahead by thinking of ways to accept the situation if it worsens.
  7. Attend to your body sensations using mindfulness or meditation to connect with yourself.
  8. Allow disappointment, sadness, grief, or anger to arise if they do. Note them and do not act on them. Give them the space to exist.
  9. Acknowledge that life can be worth living, even when there is pain.
  10. Create a pros and cons list if you are resisting acceptance further.
Do you need to move on from an unhealthy relationship?

Receiving mental health support 

Feeling stuck can have many causes, and it might not be easy to move forward if you've felt this way for a long time or feel strongly about multiple paths. In these cases, speaking to a mental health professional may be beneficial. You can also try multiple forms of therapy, and some individuals find internet-based platforms like BetterHelp valuable. 

Online therapy can be done from any location with an internet connection, which can feel more comfortable for some people. Studies have found that individuals feel more connected to their therapist remotely, noting that the distance between them allows them to open up more freely. They have also found online therapy more effective than in-person options. 


Feeling stuck can be challenging, but you're not alone. Speaking to a provider may help you develop ways to move forward and practice the above skills. You can also learn new coping mechanisms and practice evidence-based treatment to cope with mental health concerns and symptoms. If you're ready to get started, consider contacting a therapist online or in your area for further support.
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