This is a question that I have analyzed again and again. I will be working on something or other to improve my life, put myself where I ultimately desire to be — and not quite get there.
Something comes up, I get distracted, something shifts, or an unexpected happening happens. Yet the same end result occurs — I get held back.
I know that I am not the only one who deals with this. So the question I am asking of myself, and you in the process, is what holds you back?
That which holds ME back
Frequently, I believe what holds me back is my fear.
The one greatest fear I have in my life is the fear of abandonment. Deep down, I fear that if I succeed OR if I fail, I will be abandoned by those I care about.
As such, if I began to get close to succeeding OR to failing, I would tend to sabotage myself. Self-sabotage takes all sorts of interesting forms for me.
When it came to relationships, for example, if it started to look too good, out of fear of it succeeding or failing I would sabotage it by ending it, cheating, or allowing distraction to cause my partner to end it themselves.
As to jobs, I would get super-bored. That boredom would either lead to me performing my job less well or half-assed. Of course, it didn’t help that for years I avoided going after anything I truly wanted and taking jobs simply to pay the bills and live.
More than once I found a way to get in my own way. So I held myself back and spent a lot of time debating what I wanted to do with myself, whom I wanted to be, and how to go about doing that. I said for years that I spent an inordinate amount of time at a crossroads.
Better, but still room to grow
I am far better at recognizing what holds me back and working on overcoming it now. But it’s still very much a work in progress.
The key to this is being more in the present, in the now. When I am in the now I can better recognize what I am thinking and what and how I am feeling, and from there, influence, change, and potentially control it. From that, I can do better at taking intentional actions.
This is mindfulness in practice.
Often I have failed at taking intentional action. Sure, I probably acted to effect some forward movement or other, but it had little intent or direction. It just was.
Action lacking intent holds you back because it doesn’t take you anywhere in particular, per se. Think of it as an episode of a favorite television show that might tell a good story, but doesn’t move the overall narrative forward.
So while I am striving to hold myself back less, there are still good days and bad days. Mindfulness in practice can be tough if I am having a bad day, got insufficient sleep, am coping with stress, or dealing with anxiety or depression.
Mindfulness is a practice, which means you are always working on it. This is not something to be perfected, in part due to perfection being in the eye of the beholder and in part due to the bar changing and moving. Mindfulness on a peaceful stress-free day is simply easier than mindfulness on an emotional, stressful day.
So I am getting better and not holding myself back, but still have room to improve. But that’s a good thing.
Change is inevitable, and you get to choose how to address it
Another thing that has held me back, and I would not be surprised if it holds you back, is fearing change. This tends overall to be an indirect fear, disguised as something else. Disguises include:
· Fear of success
· Fear of failure
· Some other random fear
· Anxiety about a decision
· Depression over past decision or indecision
Ever find yourself feeling unduly angry about something that you just can’t put your finger on? Have you ever then realized it involved some change or other, which may or may not have been outside of your control? Fear of change takes some odd forms.
Realistically, you have control over a rather finite number of things. Anything about your own body and your own mindset is yours to control. When it comes to other people, you can’t do anything about them or for them, and only influence as they allow, if they allow any influence at all.
A lot of times you might get held back because you are awaiting some other thing, rather than going for it. Waiting for the money, the time, the weight loss, the new job, or something else. Whether it is tangible ort intangible, something inside or outside of your control, that other thing could hold you back indefinitely.
I am not saying it’s an excuse…but it’s kind of an excuse.
Ultimately, there is one big elephant in the room that also tends to hold you, me, and almost everyone else back.
Comfort in the comfort zones
For me, establishing my comfort zone took time. I developed my friendships, found a place that that felt like home, and I was content. For the most part.
But this also held me back. What’s more, the other mistake I made was in not recognizing that comfort zones, like everything else in the Universe, change.
Friends move on in various ways. Situations change. Something you used to enjoy ceases to be enjoyable. Most of this is due to factors over which you have no control.
Leaving your comfort zone, however, is the key to going anywhere you might desire to go. No matter what the thing might be, moving your life forward tends to involve leaving a comfort zone.
It does not help that our fear-based culture tends to resist this. As such, if you are leaving a comfort zone you may be met with “concerns” and “well-meaning” warnings and the like. This makes it harder to do, but no less worthwhile.
You have a choice. Allow your comfort zone to hold you back, or get uncomfortable and move out of it.
You get to decide
When it comes to what is holding you back, if it is you, and it very well might be, there are decisions to be made. Allow yourself to hold yourself back? Choose an intentional action to release your hold? Face the fear head-on and move past and through it? Leave your comfort zones behind and get uncomfortable?
If what you desire is something that excites you, that you believe in, that you feel will make your life better, the answer is yes to all of the above. You get to decide to not hold yourself back, and do what you need to do in order to be the best you that you can be.
You are deserving and worthy of making it happen. You get to choose to be or not to be that which holds you back.
You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done, you matter, and you can decide to hold yourself back — or not.