Getting in your own way in life, and how to get out of it…

If there is one thing I have always been really, really good at, it has been getting in my own way in life. Whether I was aware of it or not, I was always the first to hinder or stop myself from taking risks, from going outside the norm (whatever that means), and from just trusting my gut. Most of the time I would allow fear to win me over, and that’s just it… the fear. Fear of the unknown, of the good, of anything, really. Either I was just being overly cautious, or I sincerely was operating out of real fear.

Thankfully, I am now in a different place in my life where I care a whole lot less what others think of me and what others will say about what I do, but, it has taken many tough lessons and more than enough time to get me to this point. I know many of you that are reading can relate to this. I see it all of the time. Having been one to get in my own way, I can see or even sense when others are holding back. It pains me because the fear is almost tangible and I know all too well what it feels like. Only we ourselves know what we are afraid of, but it is a problem that so often robs us of what we could be, could have, or could change.

There are too many occasions to count or recall, but most of the time it goes something like this:

I get excited about starting or doing something new. I picture myself doing or acting on said exciting thing. I then worry that something will go wrong and I will disappoint myself. I worry about what others will say or think when I fail. I end up not doing anything about it. At all. I sit and feel paralyzed from all of these thoughts circulating in my head, and all the while I am immobile and have not done one thing to move forward or to do what I was excited about to begin with. Can you relate? Hmm? I know I am not alone.

This may be a more mild version of holding oneself back, or, it may sound dramatic compared to how yours or some others’ experience might be. Either way, it holds true for many.

Sure, I will say that my anxiety does play a role as well as the difficulties that arise from coping with it. I am aware of the fact that much of my decision making is influenced by my, at times, crippling anxiety. (More on that in a completely different post, solely dedicated to anxiety and my history with it.) BUT, a lot of the time, it is all me.

Basically, it is ALL in my head and I have held myself back from just doing. I will admit that I tend to be the queen of this sort of behavior. Luckily, I have also become more and more self aware about this spiral to nowhere land, and I have gotten a lot better about checking myself and realizing through experience that this thought process will get me nowhere. (Thank goodness for self-awareness). Basically, I got tired of it! I got tired of being tired of being afraid, of letting life pass me by, of allowing my own negativity and cynicism to win.

Eventually, you come to a place where it just gets old, and there is no more room for excuses. Either you or others call you out, and you can no longer hide from the fact that no one is forcing you to not do something. It is more than evident that it is all up to you, and there is no other place to move but forward.

So, what can you do next time you find yourself in a similar situation, and you’re starting to spiral down and away from what is exciting you and inspiring you? Firstly, it is ok to acknowledge the fear. As humans, we only operate and make decisions based on love or fear, and in this case, it is ok to be aware of it. You’re only human! The trick though, is to not stay there. Acknowledge it but have that internal dialogue with yourself and know that it will be all be ok and you will only grow and learn from it.

Another important key is to surround yourself with good, real, caring, positive, and encouraging people. This one may seem obvious, but a lot of times we are so used to who we choose to surround ourselves with that we don’t give a second thought to how these connections affect our inner dialogue and relationship with ourselves. We forget to take inventory of our inner circle and we continue to accept the possible negativity that it can come with for some of these people.

This may not be possible 100% of the time because, again, we are only human, and we may even be related to some people that aren’t always striving for better. However, it is more than possible to get out of our comfort zones and link up with people that have similar goals and are like-minded that you know you can rely on to keep pushing you and each other right along. It may take some extra effort to find these people, but, you might find that they may already be in your group exercise class at your workout studio or gym, in a community organization that you both take part in and enjoy, or you may already be blessed with just the right people (or person) that fulfill this area for you. If this is the case, consider yourself golden.

Go ahead and rely on them, and provide the same love and loyalty back. However, if this is not possible and you only have yourself to fall back on, you now are better equipped and prepared to not hold yourself back. You’ve acknowledged the fear, you have pushed forward regardless, and you’ll realize that taking those baby steps forward amounts to finally doing what it was that excited you to begin with.