We all have goals and dreams for our lives. In order to live the life that you really want, you have to break through your self-imposed barriers. We each are where we are today because of what we believe about ourselves to be true and what we tell ourselves about ourselves and life. This is our STORY. We repeat it over and over and brain wash ourselves into believing that we can’t have better because of who we are or what has happened to us. The truth is that we can be whatever we decide to be, but in order to change our external environment, first we have to shift our internal environment. You were put on this earth to be great and to make a contribution to the world. No one is here just taking up space. You have a gift and your duty is to identify your gift and do something good in the world with it. The great Bishop T.D. Jakes says that we have to step out of our HISTORY and into our DESTINY.
We all set goals and we all want the best for our lives. Many of us fall prey to self-sabotage and become our own worst enemies. Why? What are the barriers that hold us back and how can we break through? What lies between your life now and the life you wish you had?
Barrier #1: Fear
Sometimes we say that we want something, but subconsciously, getting it scares us. Why would you walk toward something that scares you? This fear often leads to self-sabotage. Perhaps you desperately want a relationship, but you have an intense fear of emotional or physical intimacy. Maybe you want a promotion at work, but deep-down you’re scared that you don’t have what it takes to do the job. You say that you want to lose weight, but you either fear the ongoing effort involved in maintaining the weight loss or you hold onto the weight as a barrier between yourself and the outside world.
Subconsciously we often sabotage ourselves because somehow, our current situation serves us or makes us feel safe—not happy and fulfilled—but safe.
Perhaps all of your family and friends are overweight and you fear that they will reject you if you “leave them behind”—and you will lose them if you become lean and healthy. Maybe your husband is overweight, and you fear what will happen to the relationship if you lose weight and he does not. We do all sorts of things subconsciously that keep us stuck where we are, and at the root of so many of our subconscious, self-destructive behaviors is fear.
We most often fear rejection and/or failure. If you fear emotional intimacy, what you really fear is that when someone gets close to you and sees the real you, you will be rejected. If you fear that you are not ready to take on a new professional challenge, what you really fear is public failure. If you fear losing weight, you may fear feeling like a failure if you regain the weight. I’ve seen examples of all of these situations in my consulting work with clients.
Breaking through the barrier of fear:
Whatever fear you have must be faced. The only way to conquer fear is to face the fear head on. You can talk about it in therapy until you’re blue in the face, but confronting the fear is the only way to overcome it. Most fear that we feel has been blown out of proportion by nurturing pathological thoughts. Once we confront the fear, we often realize that we created a monster that doesn’t really exist. Most importantly, often the pain we feel because we remain stuck is worse than the pain we would feel if we confronted our fear.
Steps to break through the barrier of fear:
Identify your fears and stop listening to the lies that you tell yourself and others. We all tell ourselves lies that keep us stuck. These lies show up in the form of excuses that we make for our dysfunctional behavior. If you want to identify the lies that you tell yourself, listen to what you tell other people.
I’ve had clients who could make up an excuse for any occasion: “It’s too hot; it’s too cold; I can’t afford a gym; I can’t exercise in my apartment.” I’ve had clients who didn’t have time to exercise but had time to sit and watch hours of TV every week. One didn’t have money to buy healthy food but had money to buy donuts and pizza.
If you’ve ever wondered how you got where you are now, listen to the excuses that you tell other people. These are lies that you’ve told yourself so often that you’ve become convinced that they’re true. Rather than make excuses to support your dysfunctional behavior, it would be more beneficial to admit that there’s more to the story and get to the root of your subconscious fears. This is how you can break through and move to the next level in your life. Excuses keep you stuck. You are not a victim of your life, but rather the architect.
Once you’ve identified the lies that you tell yourself and others, challenge them. Most of the time they sound valid to us only because we’ve repeated them so often. Is what you’re saying really true or is it something you have concocted so your story makes sense to you?
Here’s a way to challenge your excuses: if you confide in someone or hire a professional to help you and then reject every idea you’re offered with, “…but that won’t work because…,” you are defending your excuses.
If you refuse helpful solutions and instead defend your excuses, you’re clinging to them because they are serving to protect you from what you fear.
Click here to read about another barrier that may be holding you back: the barrier of feeling unworthy.