You feel suffocated and weighed down by some kind of invisible force.
And you don’t really know why, but this force is relentless … no matter what you do, you carry this knotted heaviness inside everywhere you go.
Nothing feels right anymore.
You look at your life and marvel at how it doesn’t feel like ‘yours’ at all. You desperately want to escape, you badly want to do something … but you’re terrified of destroying everything you’ve built so far.
You just can’t seem to move. You feel paralyzed.
All of us will feel trapped at some point, whether that be in a job, house, neighborhood, financial circumstance, religion, family or relationship. Usually feeling trapped can be easily remedied by simply doing something new … but it’s not always that easy. When feeling trapped becomes a persistent problem, one that makes you feel hopeless, then it’s time to take a serious look at your life.
5 Reasons Why You’re Feeling Trapped
Feeling trapped and defeated are experiences common to people who face anxiety and depression, according to psychological research. In other words, feeling trapped can create anxiety and depression, which further reinforces the feeling of being trapped. And so the cycle continues.
But the question is, why do we feel trapped in the first place? Anxiety and depression may trigger this experience, and also be the byproduct of it, but what actually creates the anxiety and depression?
Here are some common psychological and spiritual reasons why you might be feeling trapped:
1. You’re being passive rather than proactive
Passivity is often a learned behavior that we’re taught in childhood by our parents, teachers, and societies. For example, being headstrong is generally a trait that is discouraged in society because it makes you less governable, meaning that others have less influence over you. Therefore, in childhood, many of us are taught to be submissive, compliant and docile because these traits make us “good members” of a society that revolves around control and power.
As young people, how many of us felt empowered and encouraged to take a proactive approach to our life, and to be and do whatever we desired? Of course, most people pay lip service to this “empowerment” ideal (such as our teachers), BUT within the confines of doing socially acceptable things like going to university (like others), chasing after money and status (like others), and getting married and having kids (like others).
On one hand we’re encouraged to be “proactive” about our lives, but on the other hand, this “proactivity” is a disguised form of passivity which is all about following the crowd and doing what everyone else does.
Is it really any wonder that so many of us struggle with feeling trapped? Unless we have the wisdom to see through the futile and unfulfilling pursuits of society from a young age, we end up following the herd and letting others dictate our lives. Passivity is, therefore, a major cause of feeling trapped and stuck in a life that seems empty. When we’re passive, we’re literally giving others the permission to make our decisions and prescribe our existence on this earth. When we’re passive, we’re resigned to accepting our “lot” in life, without realizing that it is actually in our hands to create a life of our own choosing.
If you have just realized that you’ve taken a passive approach to life, don’t worry. Most people on this planet have. It’s not that you choose to be passive, it’s that you’re psychologically programmed to be this way. But with this new knowledge, you can pull off the blindfold and start consciously being proactive.
2. You’ve simply outgrown your current life
Here’s the thing, people are not static beings. As human beings, we are forever changing, evolving and transforming. Anything that does not change, dies, as we can quite clearly see in the world around us. When species, ecosystems, and even business and trends don’t evolve, they fade away into oblivion. This is evolution in process. And the same goes for us as people: we are changing and learning more each and every day. We might not be consciously aware of it, but we are not the exact same person as we were this time yesterday. Ask yourself, “Am I the exact same person as I was a year ago?” Likely, your answer will be no, you’ve changed! And this is completely fine!
Feeling trapped is therefore often a product of simply outgrowing your current life. Perhaps you don’t have much in common with your friends anymore, your career interests have changed or you just don’t relate as deeply to your partner anymore. This is all completely normal, yet as humans, we tend to pathologize change. We become really neurotic and fearful about it because we desperately want to control life to give us a sense of comfort and security. But the truth is that change is inevitable – resistance is futile! When you aren’t willing to upgrade your life, even when you’ve outgrown it long ago, you feel suffocated. Just imagine how uncomfortable it would be squeezing yourself into the clothes you wore ten or twenty years ago! Yes, you might feel comforted in some small way … but is the comfort and familiarity you feel worth the experience of dying inside? Remember that it’s completely normal to not want to let go, so be gentle and compassionate towards yourself. It’s OK to grow and change. It is your birthright.
3. You desperately want to fit in and feel “normal”
All of us want to feel like we belong. In fact, craving to “fit in” with others is deeply embedded into our DNA: it’s a biological survival mechanism. But we’ve come a long way in our evolution, and the proof is that the more we force ourselves to be “normal,” the more we suffer. Evolution, or rather involution, is now calling us to honor our authentic needs in order to grow as a species. Conformity is an old paradigm we no longer need to chase after. In fact, the more we conform, the more empty we feel inside. The more we try to be like others, the more we lose contact with our inner voice. The more we mold our lives to be “socially acceptable,” the more we sacrifice our inner values, dreams, beliefs, and desires.
Trying to fit in with others because we fear what they think about us, is a recipe for suffering. Understand that wanting to be accepted is completely normal, but it’s time that you start looking inside of yourself for approval, rather than outside.
4. You’ve taken on too many responsibilities
Responsibilities are a normal part of life; they teach us to be mature, accountable, patient, and empathetic. But there can come a point in our lives when we take on more responsibilities than we can handle … and we start to feel TRAPPED. Why? Usually, we fill our lives with pointless or excessive commitments because we’re trying to escape from something, whether that is ourselves, our past or some kind of emotion that haunts us like grief, emptiness, or anger.
If you’re feeling trapped, closely examine your life. Have you bitten off more than you can chew? Why? And furthermore, what can you do to decrease your workload?
5. Soul loss and lack of life purpose
Probably the biggest reason why many of us undergo the excruciating feeling of being trapped is soul loss. When we have lost contact with our souls we feel the unshakable sense that ‘something is missing’ from our lives. This feeling is accompanied by loneliness, emotional numbness, emptiness, restlessness, irritability, and of course, anxiety and depression.
Soul loss occurs for many reasons such as a traumatic life experience or simply situations that have caused us to be consumed by the ego. The ego is our false self, the concept of “me” that we have inside of our brains. The more we serve our ego and its desires, the more empty and unfulfilled we feel because the ego is obsessed with power and self-gratification – something that is ultimately unfulfilling. Our soul, on the other hand, is focused on love and unity: on learning how to love, behaving with love, speaking with love, and ultimately, becoming love. When we are in contact with our souls, we discover our life purpose which helps us to stop feeling trapped by our circumstances. We start to feel empowered and begin to listen to the voice of the heart rather than the voice of the mind.
How to Stop Feeling Trapped
Feeling trapped can be a self-perpetuating cycle: we begin to look for more and more proof to confirm our belief that we are victims. For example, we might try to stop feeling trapped, but then, our inner saboteur might do something that causes us to fall back into that feeling again. As a result, we confirm the belief that we’re trapped, thus becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. So be careful. Understand that feeling trapped can actually be a very addictive role because it makes us feel like a victim – and the ego loves feeling like a victim. Ironically, feeling like a victim is actually very empowering because this role revolves around blaming, justifying and making excuses – and all deflect self-responsibility.
With that in mind, let’s explore some methods which can help you to stop feeling trapped:
- Take responsibility for your life. As I just mentioned, feeling trapped can cause us to adopt the victim role which revolves around avoiding self-responsibility. It’s normal to feel sad about your situation, but self-pity ultimately gets you nowhere. In order to feel better, you need to take responsibility for your life, which means deciding to create change. Realize that happiness is what happens when you step up and claim ownership of your life.
- Make little changes each day. Do something new each day. Approaching your life differently little by little will help you to regain faith in your power. Think about what you would like to change and experiment with new approaches.
- Make a bullsh*t list. Sit down and think about all the things in your life that you believe are limiting you. For example, on your bullshit list you might write things like: going to after work parties with colleagues, commitments with old friends, pretending to like what my partner likes, “mandatory” luncheons with extended family members, etc. By becoming very clear about what is making you unhappy, you’ll find it easier to escape the cage that has been built around your life.
- Throw away social norms. Trying to be socially acceptable wastes so much time, energy, and money. Try to keep only what is essential in your life. If you have to step on a few toes, so be it! If you’re not pissing someone off, you probably aren’t doing anything meaningful with your life! No matter what we do, we’ll always have naysayers. Be courageous and do what makes you happy, even if that means cutting some people off. Those that do not support you tend to hang around you like dead weight.
- Create energy barriers. Are you over-extending yourself and getting bogged down by too many commitments? Learn how to notice your energy levels and step away when you’re getting too overwhelmed. Draw a line and don’t let anyone cross it, not even yourself.
- Say “no thank you.” There is nothing wrong or impolite about saying “no thank you.” Yes, you may offend a few insecure people, but you have the right to say no to doing things you’re not interested in or don’t believe in.
- Embrace fear of the unknown. One reason why we remain stuck in feeling trapped is that we’re scared of the unknown, i.e. what will our lives look like if we make a leap into drastic change? Embrace this fear and take care of yourself.
- Take a plant medicine. Obviously there is a disclaimer here: plant medicine is best taken with an experienced shaman or healer and you should seek professional advice if you suffer from mental illness. But going through such an experience can quite literally change your entire perspective of life. Research practitioners who hold San Pedro, Peyote, Ayahuasca or Psilocybin Mushrooms ceremonies either in your country or one nearby. Taking plant medicine is a sacred and profound experience which can help you develop new perspectives on your life, and even cure illnesses such as depression.
- Reconnect with your soul. Plant medicine is one powerful and foolproof way of reconnecting with your soul. However, if you prefer other methods, you might like to explore practices such as vision quests, journaling, spiritual meditation, mindfulness exercises, catharsis, artistic self-expression, music, and other alternative forms of medicine that can help awaken this deep presence within you.
Tell me, why are you feeling trapped? When did it start … and most importantly, what are you planning to do about it?
Fear of the unknown including death and losing people I care about has always been a problem for me. It isn’t so easy to embrace my fear and take care of myself. If you have further suggestions please let me know. Thank you.
None of these reasons helped, I feel trapped because everything I try to do better myself, something happens to set me back further, it takes me back rather than forward, what solution is there for this, ?
I feel completely trapped in my own, beautiful life. I have two wonderful girls and a husband who after many difficult years is becoming aware and loving towards me.
The problem is that I don’t share the same values as my husband or my family, as I feel a need to lead a simple life materialisticly to feel at peace, while they all focus on us buying a big house and earning well to keep our daughters safe. I recently also met the man who can be no other than my twin flame and I love him so deeply. But, he lives halfway across the globe and doesn’t have a profession easy to transfer so I don’t see how there can be any realistic opportunity to be with him.
I would have wanted to search for a new life anyway but my husband suffers from depression and has no friends or family close, so the chances are high he won’t make it if I leave him.
If anyone has advice or experience as to how to get out of this seemingly impossible situation it’d be appreciated.
I feel so trapped like this planet is too small for me. I feel suffocated. However, I am also struggling to get my career off the ground and unfortunately COVID is being a pain in the a** because the schooling required to get the job I need to be self sufficient keeps getting circumvented from in class to online classes because a new COVID variant keeps popping up every several months and the local colleges in my area keep forcing students to switch from their in person classes that they payed for to attending online only every single semester. Now I’m on academic probation because I bombed all my online classes because my ADD/ADHD and online classes DON’T mix. It seems like there’s always going to be a new variant too cause people love not wearing masks and skipping out on vaccines because they get all their $&@! info from conspiracy sites (sorry to make this political) but it’s relative to me feeling trapped AF. I’m seriously thinking I should just join a cartel or like be one of those dudes that spams people all day with ED Advertisements. Easy money, and also, screw society for not getting it together… Read more »
Hi, I’m Honorine. I’m French. I definitely feel lost. I guess the first time I did feel that way was when I was ten, in the bus with my mom and I felt like I didn’t belong. Like I wasn’t meant to be there. Since then, I have lived, thanks to a program, in the US for a year. Whilst not the most amazing year ever, I felt free there. Having to go back home was difficult. I’ve felt lost since then. I love a lot of things about France but I don’t want to live here. But I never moved. I’m from a middle class family and I lost my dad just a year after graduating high school. That was heart-breaking. It’s been six years and I’m still not over it. I’ve been to uni since the end of high school but I feel like I don’t belong. I’ve always had few classes and lots of time but I feel like I waste my time all the time. I want a degree because I want a good job but at the same time it feels useless… I don’t talk much about it because I feel like no one understands.
Hi.. I feel trapped because I am not able to take decision.I am 27 years old and I have boyfriend of same age. We are in relation from last 6 years and we extremely love each other and want to marry but my parents are against it. My boyfriend is doing bussniess for living and i work in IT company. My parents don’t see safe future with him. He is from financially weak background. He don’t have much relatives or friends. We tried to convince them. But they are not ready to accept because our status does not match. But I personally have no issues with his status or any other thing. But my parents want me to think practically. I have analyzed many things at my end but still find no issue. My mom recently tried sucide attempt, one of the reason was me , few other tension and also menopause. She is in depression now. my father is heart pateint , he has already gone through by pass surgery in 2014. Because of health issues of my parents i am not able to decide about marriage and i am not ready and also don’t want to marry any… Read more »
Hi. I feel trapped since I was groomed by my teacher / neighbor when I was 13 and he kept a special relationship with me till I was 22/23. I started getting anxiety attacks from then on. And I feel like I lost myself… the positive self that I was… trying to learn about life and stuff. I only broke away from it because I fell in love and I’ve been with my current boyfriend ever since. I still feel pretty trapped and lost my purpose in life and life’s drive. I feel more trapped when I feel like I have no command over my life because of how I give away my power to others. The way I have given away my power to my parents and the way I let myself get abused. I don’t know how to be myself again. It feels difficult and almost everything feels out of control nowadays
I can’t remember when it started but for the longest time I’ve felt trapped in my life. It feels like none of the decisions I make are mine and everything I do is just because “that’s how it should be”. And sometimes when I think about it, it feels like things will never change and I’ll always have to do things for the sake of doing till the die I die and I’ll never end up living the life I want to live. I don’t want to die but sometimes it feels like it wasn’t worth it for me to be born. I’m going to college soon and it feels like all my mates already have their lives planned out, and I don’t know where to start. I don’t know where I want to work, I really just don’t know anything. I feel so alone because there’s nobody I can talk to about this. My family wouldn’t understand and I wouldn’t want to dump all this on my friends because I don’t need them worrying about me when they have their own problems to take care of.
This is to some degree I’m struggling with…I gave up Alcohol January 23,2021. And find that I’m boxed in by my surroundings..4 cats 1 dog,and a husband..They ALL want something from me..Haven’t be away from this mess Since March 29,2019 when I got a chance to go to the hospital,with appendicitis..My house is cluttered and over whelming..I feel like when I was growing up,,my mother use to say,your turn will come,,and I’m 68 and wondering when that will happen..cause everyone around me is going on their merry ole way..I’m sitting in the 4 bedroom house with the animals,looking forward when fishing season starts,cause he’ll be gone…amen..
I have done various fun things in my life and I could not regret them. However, I sometimes fear that because of how I have grown up, I am not ready or I don’t belong in any career in the future. Believe me, I look forward to continue trying new things in the future and just enjoying life. But I am constantly pulled down by certain people in my life who tell me things along the lines of “How do you expect to succeed?!” “There is too much competition in this career path and someone like you could not make it.” “You should try being this” because everyone is demanding it or in need of people like this and everyone likes that you are trying this. The more I hear these things, the more I want to go looking and find what I TRULY want to do. But I’m somewhat of a jack of all trades and can never seem to know what I really want to do. Just to make it worse, I have a mental condition that I think is causing me to not think logically or not remember things when needed, including when I need to think… Read more »