6 vital signs that you're stuck in the past

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One of my  former colleagues Les (not real name), was not known for his brilliance, diligence or humility. Instead, he was known for complaining perpetually. Everytime he raised is hand and opened his mouth, we knew that he was going to spew vile, while complaining about everything under the sun, but himself. When I joined the company in 2001, he was already 3 years in the system. When I left eight years later,  he was still in the same job grade and blaming everyone for everything.

From this experience and many others of a similar nature, I came to realise that most people are their own worst enemies.  They remain stuck in their past hoping that some angel will come and rescue them from their misery.

Watch out for the following signs and if you note any of them, make sure to cut them off immediately.

  • Constant moaning:

Groaning and griping is the order of the day for constant moaners. If it’s not the scotching sun, then it’s the rainy day that messes up their lives. If it’s not about traffic, its the kids and the spouse who messed their day. They complain about the neighbours dog and even about their own shadows. Moaners are energy zappers and take away your oxygen. They never contribute any solutions because for every solution, they have nothing good to say.

  • Thriving on negativity.

These are people who look for and stir conflict because they don’t want to be alone in hell. Peace and constructive engagement are foreign to their lives. They derive pleasure when others are frustrated because that is how they build company of losers similar to them. They thrive on having others singing the same chorus and beating the same drum as they do.

  • Bury head in the sand


People who are stuck  reject any information or feedback that challenges their status quo. They react violently to fair and constructive feedback because they want to stay in their comfort zone. I recall talking to my colleague Les about how his reaction and constant moaning is having a negative impact on his reputation. I suggested among other things that he either make peace with the situation, identify a mentor or look for alternative employment where he will flourish. Instead, he insisted that the management of the company needed to rather jump ship and not him. He even suggested that I was sent by company management to fire him. They bury their heads in the sand because that is not what they want to hear.

  • Rejecting opportunities

I have also realised that people who are stuck deny opportunities presented to them, not because of the opportunities themselves, but because they take issue with who made the suggestion. They tend to think that opportunities are presented  to undermine their “intelligence”.  They rather pretend not to have understood what the opportunity is about so that tomorrow they present it as theirs. Still they fail because of the next point.

  • Not asking for help

You might be stuck in self pity or in fear if you are unable or unwilling to ask for help. No one under the sun is self-sufficient or independent of others. People who don’t ask for help are hurting and won’t admit it. Barack Obama said that “don’t be afraid to ask questions. don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that everyday. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, its a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and then allows you to  learn something new”

  • Not forgiving

Holding grudges, yearning for revenge and wishing the worst on others are signs of lack of forgiveness. Forgiving is not about minimising the hurt or transgressions visited upon you, its  about liberating you. People who are stuck do not realise that not forgiving themselves and others is like standing on top of a sinking hole slowly nearing their demise. Forgive and let go so that you can have traction in your life.

These words by TD Jakes are important to stop reliving the same day over and over: “in order to move forward in life, you have to let go of old things and habits that no longer serve you. You have to clean the junk out of your trunk. That is the only way to clear space for the new things you desire in your life”
Tex Hlalele
Think Big, Dream Wild & Prosper     


    1. Hi Ernest, I like the word reminder because these are the things we know. The “reminder” is about constantly having a date with self or a checkpoint of where you are in life. If you remain stuck in anything, its a painful experience and no one should be in that space. Thanks buddy

    1. Thomas Jefferson once said one person with courage I the majority”. It can start with you by taking baby steps and from those you will start to impact others. Unstuck yourself so that you can unstuck the rest

  1. Thank you my brother for this inspiring article. Its amazing how we often think that when we forgive those who have hurt or failed us we are doing them a favour not realizing that it is for our own good that we do so. Also on the issue of asking for help…. it is indeed a sign of strength and selflessness to ask for help. For it is what the bible says to esteem others more highly than yourself. Thank you so much. Blessings Mpho

    1. The thing about forgiveness is that it does not mean the transgression is taken lightly or is minimised. Forgiveness is not about the other person, its about setting oneself free.

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