Woman looking at reflection in mirror feeling trapped

Feeling Trapped: How to Find Freedom and Happiness in Your Life

When you’re feeling trapped, it can seem as though you have no control over your life. In turn, this can damage your self-esteem, and low self-esteem can exacerbate the problem.

It becomes a bit of a negative cycle, and it can feel like there’s no way out, but it is possible to escape this feeling and bring more peace and happiness into your life. 

In this post, we’ll look at the different ways you might feel trapped, signs and symptoms to look out for, and the practical steps you can take to make positive change. 

What Does it Mean to Feel Trapped?

Depending on your situation, if you feel trapped at work, within your relationships, or in your life in general, you might be feeling frustrated, lonely, or scared. When you feel trapped physically, mentally, and emotionally, where do you turn? 

Making a decision seems really difficult, and the thought of positive change is an impossible task. Even when you’re desperate for things to be different, your circumstances – and your mindset – can make things extra hard. 

Do you wake up filled with dread at the prospect of another difficult, stressful, or boring day at work? Whether you’re struggling with too much work, find the job really tedious, or you just don’t enjoy being there, it’s no surprise you feel trapped. 

When you’d much rather be under the duvet than face people, or you spend your working hours daydreaming instead of being productive, it might be time to consider something that actually makes you happy.

Not all relationships are sunshine and rainbows, and even the best relationships still need work. But if your relationship makes you feel empty, lonely or, worse – scared, you’re likely desperate for things to change. 

(If you are experiencing domestic abuse, please see this article from the NHS on getting help.)

While being a mother is a real blessing, it can strip you of your identity. Everything you knew about yourself before children (remember that carefree spirit who didn’t care what others thought?) seems like a different memory. 

Aside from struggling to remember who you used to be, finding time for you is a challenge in itself. There might be so many things you want to do but time, opportunity, and ‘mum guilt’ just get in the way. 

Finding ‘me time’ as a mother. Photo by Arina Krasnikova via Pexels

Do you feel like you don’t know who you are anymore? Or like you miss your old self? You know, deep down, that you’re in there somewhere, but can’t remember how to find your way back. 

Perhaps you struggle with self-acceptance, and instead constantly berate yourself for how you look and behave. Trying to measure up to the ideals of the ‘perfect’ body, and the ‘perfect’ life, can harm your self-worth, and keep you stuck in a cycle of feeling like you’ll never be good enough. 

Feeling trapped can greatly affect our mental health and wellbeing. Fortunately, there is a way out. For instance, developing greater self-awareness can help to identify what you really want. In turn, this can encourage self-acceptance, help to build self-esteem, and with it, the opportunity to create a better life for yourself.

Signs and Symptoms of Being Stuck & Tools to Help

Some emotions you may experience when you’re feeling trapped include hopelessness, despair, anger, fear, or frustration. But with today’s hectic lifestyles, it can often be tricky to fully identify how we feel.

There are plenty of tools to help you with this, which we’ll look at below:

Quieting your mind and paying attention to your thoughts and intuition is a really useful way to let your true emotions float to the surface, allowing you to put a name to a feeling. 

Similarly, free-writing your feelings down is very effective in getting to the heart of the matter. The more you write and focus on what’s bothering you, the closer you’ll get to how you truly feel so that you can understand what the real problem is. 

Whether you prefer walking, running, swimming, yoga, or other forms of exercise, expressing emotion is a great way to calm the confusion and chaos in your mind. It’s like a thunderstorm after a really muggy day – it clears the air and helps you to think more clearly. 

Reasons Why You Might Feel Trapped  

Why do we feel trapped? Apart from the obvious of recognising the ways in which we can feel trapped, what causes these feelings in the first place? What stops us from just taking action to make our lives better, and instead, keeps us stuck in a situation that prevents us from being our happiest selves? 

We’re conditioned to believe that we must act and live in a certain way. Depending on our culture, there are customs and expectations such as going to school, getting a good job, and paying a mortgage. The status quo of ‘get married, have children, and live happily ever after’ doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. 

These ‘guidelines’ on how to live our lives can stop us from knowing and embracing what’s truly important to us; what our own personal values are. This conditioning then causes us to develop certain ‘limiting’ beliefs, which we’ll discuss in the next paragraph.

Limiting beliefs are the opinions and values we’ve formed since early childhood, and affect how our minds think. They literally limit us from achieving our true potential, because the voices in our head tell us how we should think and act. 

You also might feel fear and insecurity around your situation – for example, what would happen if you left your job? If you walked away from your relationship? If you voiced your thoughts about how you really want to have a weekend of self-indulgent, uninterrupted time without your children? Would people judge you? Would it make you a bad mother? 

What if you started going to the gym, but gave up after 3 weeks? What would people think? Would it make you lazy? A failure? Often, we talk ourselves out of things before taking action because we fear a negative outcome. 

How to Escape Feeling Trapped 

Woman journaling her thoughts. Photo by MART PRODUCTION via Pexels

While there isn’t a magic wand to stop you from feeling trapped, there are steps you can take to help you to make change. Some are small and gentle, some require a little more effort. The key here is understanding that YOU hold the power to change your life, and here’s where you can start. 

Being self-aware is a great first step to making change. By becoming self-aware through exercises such as reflection, journaling, and meditation, we can identify our emotions and how we feel about a situation. Subsequently, we can spot any patterns that trigger the emotions that make us feel stuck.

Wanting to escape a situation and actually doing it are two entirely separate things. But the more confidence and self-worth we have, the more likely we are to take positive steps. 

To help with this, try practising gratitude and affirmations, learning self-acceptance, and prioritising self-care. Small, regular acts of looking after yourself will boost your level of self-worth and increase your confidence.

For more tips on building your confidence and self-worth, read our post on 7 Ways to Boost Self-Esteem

While practising self-awareness can help you figure out what you want, and boosting self-esteem can help you with confidence, you need to take action, too. But you don’t want it to feel overwhelming, which is why it’s really important to break it down into small, actionable steps. Here are some practical tips to help you: 

  1. Identify exactly what it is that you need to change
  2. Write it down to make it real 
  3. Set realistic goals for you to achieve
  4. Create an easy to follow plan of action
  5. Focus on one small step at a time, and celebrate each one 

Yes, change is scary, but until we step out of our comfort zone, that status quo will stay the same, and you’ll continue to feel trapped. So as per the book of the same name by Susan Jeffers, ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’, and show yourself what you’re capable of. 

It can be really hard to get started when you feel trapped. If this is the case consider getting some support in the way of counselling, coaching, or something like cognitive behavioural therapy. 

Bear in mind that waiting lists can be long, and it’s sometimes helpful to find support in the form of a group with people who may be going through the same thing. 

For example, the Self Esteem Society (free Facebook community) is a caring, safe space to help women like you build their self-esteem, with the support of others who are going through the same thing. 

Join the community here.

Line of people holding hands in the air to portray how supporting each other can help to escape feeling trapped.
Supportive community achieving their goals. Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh via Pexels.

Creating a Positive Mindset to Stay on Track

It’s one thing to plan your escape to positive change, but how do you stay on track? What if you make your plan of action one day, then lose the confidence the next day to continue with it? Here are some practical steps you can take, including one client’s inspiring journey. 

We’ve mentioned this earlier in the post, but it deserves another special mention because it’s such a powerful practice. Practising gratitude trains your mind to view any situation in a positive light, which is a great way to stay on track. For tips and prompts on practising gratitude, visit our post: The Life-Changing Magic of Gratitude – 20 Powerful Prompts to Add to Your Gratitude List

Putting together a vision board is a fun, creative, and special way to make your plans a reality. Having a visual record of the things you really want out of your life can keep you focused and committed to your plan. Because when you can physically see and be reminded of your goals, you’re more likely to stick to the steps to follow through.

Your environment has a huge impact on your self-esteem and confidence. To consider how your circumstances affect you and to find ways to make it work for you, take a look at this post on how to create a positive environment.

Through shifting our perspective, nurturing a positive mindset, and taking practical steps, it is possible to break free from feeling trapped. Here’s Katrina’s story to give you some inspiration. 

Katrina felt trapped. Plagued with self-doubt, faltering self-esteem, and body image struggles, her unhealthy relationship only added to her distress. Feeling stuck in a cycle of negativity, she longed to break free and rediscover her sense of worth and purpose. 

Through one-to-one coaching, we unravelled Katrina’s tangled emotions, peeled back the layers of self-doubt and laid the groundwork for change, confidence, and growth. 

Over the course of 8 weeks, Katrina’s perspective and mindset began to shift. Through self-reflection and coaching support, Katrina rediscovered her self-worth. She used practical tools to help challenge her negative thoughts, and began to embrace a more compassionate view of herself.

By the end of our sessions, Katrina had developed clarity, resilience, and determination. Empowered by her renewed sense of self-assurance, she chose to end her toxic relationship, paving the way for a brighter and more fulfilling future. 

NB: If you would like to try one-to-one coaching to help you overcome feeling trapped but aren’t sure if it’s for you, you could try a free introduction call


While overcoming feeling trapped won’t bring results overnight, just being here and knowing that there is a way out can help you feel more positive about your situation. The most important thing you can do for yourself now is to take some action in boosting your self-esteem, or working on developing your self-awareness. 

If you’re not sure where to start, why not consider joining the (free) Self-Esteem Society over on Facebook to dip your toes in and get some instant support from a community of wonderful, supportive, like-minded women. 

Alternatively, if you’d like to work together on a more 1-2-1 basis, let’s have an introductory chat to see how I can help you.    

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