There are several things we do daily that cause us to get in our own way. Things that stop us from moving forward, from embracing change, from trying new experiences and from growing. You could argue that, in fact, these are all things that prevent us from living.
Most of them we do unconsciously. We’re often totally oblivious to just what we are doing, or more accurately, what we are stopping ourselves from doing.
I believe that we do this, mostly, to protect ourselves. Our less successful past experiences have influenced us and taught us how to erect these barriers of resistance so that we can avoid future disappointment, hurt, judgement, frustration and disillusionment. We do this while also convincing ourselves that it is much easier and wiser to stay where we are, even if where we are is making us miserable!
To demonstrate what I’m referring to, I’ve selected just three examples here of things that we all do, and I invite you to see where you might be able to see yourself in any or all of these.
3 BEHAVIOURS THAT CAUSE YOU TO GET IN YOUR WAY
Also known as, ‘I will, when…’ This is probably the most commonly insidious way that you prevent yourself from moving forward. It happens when you find yourself needing to commit, in this moment, to activating change. Rather than do what’s required, you arrive at what you deem to be very reasonable explanations as to why this is not a particularly good time. You postpone and defer things, pretending to yourself that you will come back to it, and do it, once one of a wide variety of variables comes to pass. Could you be more vague? said in a Ross Geller voice.
Be truthful, how many times a day do you think this, feel it, say it or act on it? How often do you not do something and then say to yourself that you will, as soon as … (fill in the blank)? If you’re being honest with yourself at this point, you might even recognise that there will never be a good time to embrace this change, and certainly not until you identify the block and understand where it’s stemming from. The reason I’m including this here, is not to chastise, but to draw your attention to this all-too-common practice, and to recognise it for what it is, which is an avoidance technique. As it usually occurs when you’re not ready to commit, my intention is purely to prompt you to notice it the next time you do it.
It’s not here. It’s there. When you think that the answer always lies elsewhere. This transpires when you believe that the solutions belong in the future and are dependent on something out of your control happening, or somebody else contributing, before you need to do anything. It’s fair to say that you feel better once you can put some distance between yourself and the obstacle that’s blocking you. Mostly because it allows you to detach yourself from all blame. You feel more able to declare ‘it’s not my fault, it’s because of that, because of her, because of him or because of them’. It’s never because of you. I would respectfully suggest that it’s only when you stop doing this and acknowledge that, while you may not be responsible for what happens to you, you are entirely responsible for how you let it impact on your life going forward. Grieve, heal, recover, recuperate, do all you need to do, for as long as you need to do it. Just don’t become the victim.
QUESTION NOTHING. ACCEPT EVERYTHING.
You are living your life from a story. You know this, right? As you read this, you’re bringing an entire set of beliefs that your stories have created for you to live by. You don’t question or challenge them. You might not even be aware of them. But now that you are, are you willing to question or challenge where they started? Are they even your stories? Might they be someone else’s stories that they have passed on to you – a parent, a sibling, a friend or a partner? Might it suit them for you to live your life from this place right now? Often those closest to you might not want to see you embrace changes or shake things up not for any sinister reasons but simply because they too have got comfortable with how things are. Consider that some of your stories from an earlier stage in your life may have served you well at that time but perhaps now you’re done with them and they could be pulling you backwards. It’s time to release them, and to do that, you must start by identifying which are yours and which no longer serve you, so you will know which you want to keep.
These three practices will show you just why it is that you might be finding change challenging and, if none of these resonate with you, then consider what you know to be true for you and where it’s getting in your way from letting you get on with your life. There are so many obstacles that you will be expected to overcome in your life just don’t allow yourself become one of them.
Niamh Ennis is Ireland’s leading change and transformation coach and author of Get Unstuck who through her private practice, writings, programmes, workshops and podcast has inspired, activated and helped thousands of people to make significant changes in their lives. She is an accredited Personal, Leadership and Executive Coach and the Lead Coach in the IMAGE Business Club. Niamh is currently accepting applications for The RESET for Change her 3 month bespoke 1-1 coaching programme. Follow her on Instagram at @1niamhennis.
Photography by Patrick Perkins.