Have you ever found yourself on the cusp of taking that great big leap forward to improving your life but out of nowhere, something pulls you back and keeps you stuck? I‘ve been in this exact situation countless times.
Every time this happened to me, I’ve always convinced myself that the reason for my retreats and hesitations was circumstances that were just out of my control or the so-called bad timing. So technically, I wasn’t the one to blame for every lost opportunity.
But of course, I was lying to myself because the truth is, regardless of how hard you try to deny it, often, the only thing that is holding you back, is yourself.
It took a real wake-up call for me to finally realize or to admit to myself that I was holding myself back. While there’s no denying that external factors sometimes play a part in holding me back, ultimately, it was my habits, beliefs, and mindset that were keeping me stuck and unfulfilled. To be honest with you, it was difficult for me to face this truth.
I even had countless moments where I tried to reason my way out and blame my bad luck for every time I missed out on all the opportunities that I would have loved to have. But I knew that the longer I ignored the truth, the longer I was also keeping myself from unlocking my fullest potential and living the life that I wanted.
While it may be daunting to confront the internal factors that are holding you back, know that by recognizing and accepting them, you are allowing yourself the perfect opportunity to transform these barriers into stepping stones that’ll help drastically improve your life.
In this post, I will be sharing with you the habits that played a huge part in holding me back. These habits were already so ingrained in me that I didn’t realize that I was unknowingly greatly sabotaging my happiness and success.
I’m hoping that sharing these habits will help you realize what is standing in your way of creating the life that you love, and help you learn how you can overcome the things that hold you back.
10 Things That Will Always Hold You Back In Life
Overcommitting is certainly one of the things that hold you back. Please allow me to ask you this, how many times have you said yes to other people regardless of how exhausted you already felt?
I certainly know how this feels. I have always had this habit of constantly over-extending myself to other people, especially to the people closest to me. It didn’t really matter how drained and exhausted I felt, I still said yes to whatever they needed. I thought that saying yes and overcommitting myself was the best way to go.
I thought that doing this showed that I was capable and trustworthy. To be honest with you, doing this was also my way of seeking validation and approval. I believed that as long as I’m being useful to other people, then it means that I’m worthy and that I have value.
I didn’t realize that by constantly saying yes to other people, I was also constantly saying no to my needs, my goals, and my priorities. I didn’t realize that by overcommitting, I slowly lost sight of who I was and who I wanted to be. I was drowning in so many tasks and responsibilities that weren’t even mine to begin with.
If you’re also doing this, please know that overcommitting doesn’t equal success and value. You don’t have to be the person who “does it all”. Overcommitting doesn’t always lead to genuine fulfillment and success. More often than we would like to admit, it only leads to burnout and exhaustion.
By constantly saying yes to other people, we are not only spreading ourselves too thin, but we are also wasting our time and energy doing things that are not really our priority when we can actually spend that time on things that truly matter to us.
Often overcommitting can be the main reason why we miss out on opportunities that actually matter to us. Please know that there is certainly nothing wrong with setting healthy boundaries.
Setting healthy boundaries is not about being unkind, selfish, or shutting people out. It is about identifying your limits, communicating them and choosing to protect your peace and well-being.
It is not about pushing people away. It is about maintaining a healthy balanced life.
Here’s a great post that’ll help you learn how to stop overcommitting from LifeHack.
2. Resistance To Change
Often the reason why most people miss opportunities and stay stuck is because of their resistance to change. I have never been good with change. For others, change can be exciting but for me, it’s overwhelming and often terrifying.
That’s why for years I have chosen to cling to the familiar and comfortable regardless of how unhappy and unfulfilled I was. Because to me the familiar provided predictability which gives me a sense of control and stability. I knew that if I opened myself up to change, I would also face so many uncertainties that would ultimately destroy my sense of control.
It wasn’t until I was at my lowest that I finally realized that life is far too precious to waste it standing still. Time is fleeting and the only way that you can truly live, grow, and learn is when you open yourself up to change and step outside your comfort zone.
I know that change can be challenging. It basically pulls us out of our comfort zones which ultimately brings us stress and anxiety but the more that we shy away from it, the longer we are also keeping ourselves from discovering our true potential.
Know that with change comes opportunities, growth, and new experiences that will help us become the best possible version of ourselves.
I know that stepping outside our comfort zones can be overwhelming that’s why it’s so important to remember that you don’t have to make huge changes all at once. You don’t have to open yourself up to big changes right away. You can take small and easy steps.
Taking a gradual approach to change will make it less overwhelming and daunting and so much easier for you to stick with it.
3. Ignoring Mental Health
When we have so much going on in our lives, all our endless to-do lists and never-ending responsibilities, taking care of our mental health is probably the least of our concerns. Often, we don’t even think about it believing that it’s not really that important.
I was guilty of this too. I focused all my attention and energy on achieving all my goals. I continually pushed myself to exhaustion and burnout thinking that this was the way to a happy and successful life.
It wasn’t until I found myself at my lowest, trapped in a dark hole that I finally realized how important our mental health is. Making our mental health a priority should not be treated as a luxury or something that we check off our to-do list once a year and then just forget about it.
Taking care of our mental health is a necessity. If we continue to neglect it, sure the consequences may be subtle at first, but over time they can become a major barrier to our potential and overall quality of life. We can’t keep pushing ourselves to exhaustion and neglecting all our needs without expecting any consequences.
Please know that your mental health matters. As cliché as it sounds, you truly cannot pour from an empty cup. Know that by making your mental health a priority, you are not only taking care of yourself, you are also ensuring that you are better equipped to help and be present for other people.
4. Constantly Prioritizing Perfection
Growing up, I was made to believe that mistakes and failures were a bad thing. I was convinced that mistakes and failures were a testimony to my abilities and worth. So, every time I made one, they led me to believe that I wasn’t good enough and that I wasn’t worthy.
So naturally, I did everything that I could to avoid them. I continued to chase perfection. I wanted to be perfect all the time because I thought that perfection meant that I was worthy
And let me tell you, living that life was exhausting. It was emotionally and mentally draining and every day felt like I was drowning in so much pressure and anxiety. I couldn’t even begin to tell you the number of opportunities I’ve let slip away because I was too afraid to fail.
I’ve set myself up to these unrealistic standards, trying my very best to be perfect, and when I fall short of that standard, I just feel even more disappointed and heartbroken. Constantly chasing perfection only made me feel like I was never good enough.
If you’re also doing this, please give yourself the chance to break free from the constant pressure to be perfect and finally allow yourself to live and embrace life’s imperfections.
Perfection for me will always be elusive. Regardless of how hard we try to avoid mistakes, human as we are, we are all bound to stumble, we are all bound to fail and you know what? That’s perfectly okay because it is in those mistakes and failures that we learn, grow, and become the best possible versions of ourselves.
5. Excessive Self Criticisms
Are you also guilty of being your own harshest critic? I certainly am. For years (or to be honest, I still do this sometimes), I have always been my worst critic. I would beat myself up for every little mistake and constantly put myself down.
Especially, when I was struggling in life, every day I would constantly beat myself up for making all these bad decisions that led me to the lowest point of my life. I had this notion that by doing this I was making myself more accountable and more motivated to turn my life around for the better.
But what it did was the complete opposite. By constantly criticizing myself, I was also slowly diminishing my self confidence. Instead of being motivated to take action, I started doubting my capabilities and I felt more hopeless.
Please know that you too deserve to give yourself the same amount of compassion and kindness that you so freely give to your loved ones. One of the greatest lessons that I’ve learned is that self compassion is not about being self indulgent.
Offering yourself kindness and understanding doesn’t mean that you’re settling for mediocrity. Self compassion is about acknowledging your imperfections and mistakes without harsh self criticism.
By providing yourself a safe space to make mistakes, learn, and grow, you are empowering yourself to be more motivated to go after your dreams and aspirations.
If you want to learn how to start loving yourself more, take this 30 day self love challenge.
- 10 Actionable Steps To Move Forward In Life When You Feel Stuck
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6. Not Asking For Help
When life gets hard, most of us want to fix everything on our own. This was certainly me. When my life was falling apart, I had this notion that since this was my problem then naturally, I should be the one to solve this.
Every day, I would put on this mask pretending to everyone around me that I was okay and that everything was perfectly fine. To be honest, the real reason why I was so afraid to let anybody know what I was going through was because I believed that I would just be burdening them with my problems.
And I never wanted to be a burden to anyone. However, choosing to carry the weight of all the challenges and responsibilities by myself was really overwhelming. Not only did the overwhelm paralyze me but some days it just made me feel so hopeless and alone.
If you feel the same way too, please know that you will never be a burden to the people who truly love you. They actually want to listen to you and be by your side as you navigate difficult times in your life.
Please know that asking for help is not a testament to your abilities. It doesn’t make you weak. It’s actually the exact opposite. Accepting that you need help and reaching out takes a great deal of strength and courage.
I’ve learned that while there’s no denying that self reliance is a valuable trait, believing that we should handle everything on our own is certainly nothing but an illusion. You don’t have to go through everything on your own.
Reaching out and asking for help when we need it not only makes things less overwhelming but seeking guidance also introduces us to new ideas, skills, and perspectives that can ultimately help our personal growth.
7. Chasing Approval
Constantly chasing other people’s approval and validation is certainly one of the things that hold you back in life. I’m no stranger to this. I have been and sometimes I still am guilty of people pleasing.
I could never say no, especially to the people closest to me regardless of how exhausted and drained I already felt because I was so afraid of disappointing them. I have always believed that as long as I’m being useful to other people then I am worthy.
I didn’t realize that by constantly yearning for other people’s approval, I was also molding myself based on their own standards. I was reshaping myself just to meet their expectations.
And let me tell you, living that kind of life was exhausting and just debilitating. Continually chasing other people’s validation not only diminished my happiness but also made me lose sight of who I truly was.
By constantly yearning for others’ validation, I was also living my life based on their own standards instead of actually creating the life that I wanted. If you are also guilty of doing this, please know that your worth and value are not tied to other people’s approval.
You don’t have to keep proving yourself to them. The only validation that you will ever need is your own. Your worth is inherent. It is not earned. You are enough just as you are now.
8. Bottling Up Your Emotions
I have never been good with vulnerability. For years, every time I would go through something, instead of actually taking the time to feel my emotions, my first instinct was to run away from them.
Regardless of how defeated, broken-hearted, or devastated I felt, instead of processing these emotions, I would bottle them up thinking that eventually, they would all just go away.
I continued to put on this facade that nothing really bothered me and that I was perfectly fine but in reality, I was far from it. I’ve always believed that if I just continued to keep running from what I truly felt, sooner or later everything would just be okay.
But that’s certainly not the case. Bottling up your emotions does not make them go away. Suppressing our emotions might seem like an effective coping strategy on the surface, but over time these suppressed emotions accumulate, weighing us down and leading us to live unhappy and unfulfilled lives.
Please know that while bottling up our emotions might seem like an armor at first but the truth is, refusing to feel our emotions will only keep us from truly healing. We can’t really move forward if we continue to refuse to process what we are feeling.
I know that in today’s world, emotional stoicism is often regarded as strength, and being vulnerable is a sign of weakness. But I actually believe that it’s the exact opposite.
Vulnerability takes great strength. It takes a whole lot of courage to sit down and feel all your emotions. Being vulnerable doesn’t make you weak. It’s actually a testament to your strength.
Know that true healing only comes when we allow ourselves to process our feelings and emotions. By taking the time to feel them, we are giving ourselves the space to reflect, heal, and eventually move forward.
9. Constantly Waiting For The “Perfect Moment”
I have always been a believer in perfect timing. I have always had this notion that there is always a perfect moment for everything. Every time I was faced with opportunities that I really wanted, instead of grabbing them right away, I would make sure that everything was in place and that in fact, it was the perfect moment.
Actually, that belief seemed right for some time until I found myself at the lowest point of my life, where everything around me was falling apart. I knew that I wanted to turn my life around but I didn’t want to make the same mistake of going after something that I didn’t love or even like.
I wanted to pursue my passion but I was afraid and I believed that it wasn’t really the perfect moment since basically everything around me was just going wrong. It took a real wake-up call for me to realize that sometimes in life, there is no such thing as a perfect moment.
We can’t keep waiting for everything to fall into place before we start pursuing our aspirations. Otherwise, life might just slip through our fingers. Not all amazing things happen in perfectly planned routes, often the most amazing things happen in unexpected detours.
We must keep reminding ourselves that yes while some moments might be better than others, no moment will ever be truly perfect. Time is fleeting and life is by far too precious to waste it waiting.
10. Constantly Postponing Joy
When we have so many things on our plate, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of pushing our happiness to some distant future. This was me. For years, I was so focused on achieving all my goals that I actually believed that there was no time for me to feel true happiness because I needed to spend every moment of my time checking things off my to-do list.
I keep saying to myself, “I’ll be happy when I finally save up enough money to pursue my dream”, or “I’ll be happy when I finally find a job that I love or even like”.
While there’s no denying that having future goals and working toward them is important, I’ve learned that postponing our joy is only robbing us of our chance to live every moment of our lives.
The thing is if we continue to believe that the future will somehow bring a more suitable time for happiness, we will only reinforce the notion that external circumstances will always dictate our happiness.
While yes, external circumstances can play a huge role in our joy and happiness, we must also remember that happiness is as much about perspective and choice as it is about external factors.
Life will always be filled with uncertainties and if we continue to postpone our joy, we risk missing out on happiness altogether, especially when things don’t go as we expected.
We have to learn to embrace every moment of our lives, whether it’s ordinary or extraordinary. Doing this will not only help us find joy in everyday things but will also help us live a more meaningful and fulfilling life.
If you’re feeling defeated right now, please know that you have the innate strength to overcome the things that hold you back. You have already taken the first step by being self-aware and reading this blog post.
I know that some of these things may have been so deeply ingrained within us for years but please know that they are not insurmountable. Believe in yourself, you will overcome them.
During this period in your life, please don’t forget to give yourself love and understanding. Know that this journey is not linear. Be patient with yourself when you stumble.
And know that I’m always rooting for you!