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  • Fe Robinson

What to do when you are feeling stuck

I’m on a voyage of discovery with new words at the moment, the one I want to blog about today is velleity. The dictionary definition is ‘a wish or inclination not strong enough to lead to action.’ In other words, a velleity is something you’d quite like, but that you are not working to bring into being.

Sadly, velleity can seem a common problem in psychotherapy. Many times clients will come in with a wish that they articulate as a goal, but that they have not done anything about. Oftentimes though, the problem is not simply that the desire is not strong enough, or the client can’t be bothered, more often it is a case of a client being frozen, or deskilled, or unable to work out what is that they might actually do.

This is troubling. So many times, not only does someone have a longing that they are not fulfilling, but they also have the self-blaming of velleity in that they conclude that it is entirely their fault that they do not have what they want and are not acting to bring it into being. Layering this on top of the unmet wants is a recipe for stuckness.

I find it intriguing when people have wants that are not being acted upon. When there is resistance to something that is longed for, its indicative of complexity and competing parts within that are incongruent with each other. Gentle curiosity to establish what each perspective is aiming to do, the positive intention if you will, can be very useful, without this inner conflict can escalate and self esteem can plummet.

We sometimes imagine that we are alone, and we must do it all ourselves. I was fortunate that one of my therapeutic teachers was an Aikido master. He talked eloquently of moving with energy and recycling it, of connecting beyond yourself and letting things flow through. I may not be an Aikido practitioner, but as a meditator and yogi I find that when I relax and tune into my surroundings, to other people, and to the energy around me things go rather more smoothly and with much less resistance than when I do not. We do not need to do things all alone, we can channel and use the energy of which we are a part. We are inter-connected, and this can be a source of strength and solace.

Next time you find yourself with velleity, as well as enjoying the music of the word (I think it sounds beautiful!), you might take a moment to pause within and to notice what is going on. Here are some questions you might ask yourself:

  • How do you know that you want what you want?

  • Can you imagine (see/hear/feel) yourself having it? How does that feel emotionally?

  • What would you need to do to move towards your longing? What’s that like to imagine?

  • Is the goal worth what is needed to bring it into being? If not, do you really want it? If so, how can you make it seem even more vivid and appealing?

  • What is the context you are in? What else is supporting, and undermining your want? What adjustments would be needed elsewhere for you to bring this goal to life? Are you OK with those accommodations?

  • Who do you need support from, and what support do you need to ask for? What support do you need to give to yourself?

These few questions from the NLP Outcome Frame, a core aspect of how all Outcome Oriented Psychotherapists work. They go a long way to helping you clarify your wants, and to working through blocks that stop you achieving them. For more support, get in touch with an NLP trained practitioner.

For more blog articles about all things psychological and therapeutic, check out my online blog:

woman standing in front of two paths unsure where to go
Often the best thing to do is to gently start walking


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