There are lots of articles and theories on what and who is holding us back, and as someone who likes to think of himself as a learning and growth orientated person I’ve spent much time reading many of them. Only to be told that the key thing holding me back is ‘me’.
Let’s look at this a bit closer shall we.
The critical thinker, Randy Gage, says “Your spouse, ex, or cheap boss are not the reason you aren’t achieving your goals. And the government, economy or Dow Jones average are not the reasons either. When you list external influences like these as holding you back, you’re simply playing the victim card and not taking responsibility for your own life.” And off course the great Tony Robbins would concur with this saying we are just finding excuses not to commit to our own decisions.
Of course we all play the victim, the persecutor and the rescuer roles. The thing to remember is just that, they are roles, not inherently ‘us’. The trick is to identify our patterns, particularly for the ‘default’ roles we take on. The problem arises when our default behaviors sabotage the achievement of our long-standing goals; self-sabotage.
The most common self-sabotage behavior being procrastination which can come out of a whole stream of other issues, such as continually replaying old regrets. Often referred to as the ‘If only… ‘ pattern. Or through guilt for having thoughts and feelings we don’t believe we should have. In this scenario we tend to suppress or thoughts or feelings which can then lead to ‘inertia’ or alternatively inappropriate or misdirected action.
Bill Knaus in Psychology Today gives us a way out of this thinking by asking “Why can’t I stand what I don’t like?” or through reframing our thinking around more assertive, persuasive, positive expressions such as “I don’t like this situation. Now let me see what I can do to address it.” The point off course is not to just see what I can do, but to actually do it. This is the power of decision-making in action.
But why would we self-sabotage?
There are various reasons. But the key ones are undoubtedly internal:
• Unrecognised limiting beliefs. This can be significant if there are many limiting beliefs and so cumulatively lead to feelings of ‘worthlessness’.
• Fear of failure or fear of success. Both of which could come out of a desire to be liked or to fit in, with the fear of success aligned to the feelings of worthlessness mentioned above.
While failure and success are often lumped together they are not opposites. Failure indeed is often the necessary stepping stone towards success.
A key external issue is that inevitably we are immersed in an environment and surrounded by people who encourage us to stay the same, to stay where we are. At times people will actively, although unconsciously, work to ensure we do not achieve our goals for fear that this will threaten their own position. Or alter the balance in the relationship.
It is important at this point to recognise that anyone who truly loves you will want the best for you. This lets us see why some relationships can become ‘brooding’ while others flourish as individuals within the relationship develop and grow.
And sometime, the key issue is simply a lack of development, skills and knowledge. Once you have garnered your self-awareness this is the easiest of the issues to rectify. As Randy Gage, says, now you need only concentrate on “How can I get better?”. This connects well to Tony Robbins core principle of ‘raising your standards’.
So, how can we get better?
First things first. We need to re-address our values to ensure quality and raised standards is indeed one of our core values. Otherwise getting better will never be truly on your radar.
Having done that we need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and recognise, as the Psychotherapist Dr. CM Gagnon puts it, that we are both “imperfect and enough”. We therefore are up to the job of raising our standards if we are truly committed.
And importantly, we need to have the self-awareness to clarify who we are and who we want to be, and have the courage to follow through. Referring back to our external point above, this has implications for those around us. As Jim Rohn said “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Bringing it all together
Few people take the time to clarify their values explicitly. Yet without doing this how can we tell where our standards are at and so from where, and to where, to raise them? It takes much courage to do this, especially if it could then place you on a different path to those close to you. But once you wash away those limiting beliefs you will come to see (believe) that your committed journey is worth it. Things will no longer appear to conspire to hold you back, but will indeed conspire to pull you forward. We all have what it takes if only we are be willing to give up on those excuses.