Everyone wants to grow.
Everyone wants to improve.
Everyone wants to have a better life.
But desire alone only takes us so far along our path.
It’s common in our growth trajectories to have common roadblocks come up that hold us back from obtaining the next layer of healing, or level of expansion.
In the last decade of coaching clients full time, these are some of the most consistent things that I have seen that get in people’s way. Or, more accurately, the way that I see people getting in their own way.
While each person doesn’t necessarily experience all three of these, it’s inevitable that everyone will bump into at least one of these on their journey.
Without further ado, here are the three biggest things that get in the way of people actually making durable, consistent changes in their lives.
1. Avoiding feeling their pain
The first and most significant hurdle for a lot of people is the fear of truly diving into their repressed emotional pain.
Everyone experiences hardship in their lives. Someone who has had terrible things happen to them is more the rule than the exception.
Regardless of whether you label it as pain, trauma, hard knocks, or any other name, you’ve been through things in your life that you wouldn’t wish on others, and there will be some inevitable pain attached to those experiences.
Here’s a quick example of this in action…
A number of years ago I worked with a woman who had an absolutely beautiful, deeply-feeling heart. She also had more than a decade of fairly traumatic emotional and sexual abuse behind her that she was unwilling to face into.
We did a number of sessions together and every time we started to veer towards broaching her childhood trauma she would sidestep the issue and want to talk about something else.
At a certain point I had to call out this pattern directly.
During our third session together I told her, “Whenever we get close to diving into your childhood pain, you find a way to sidestep the conversation. I want you to know that I am completely unattached to whether you face into this trauma with me or not, but regardless of who it comes out with, it must come out eventually. Until then, it will own you and have power over you.”
She replied, “I want to discuss it, but I’m afraid that if I talk about it, then I’ll feel all of the sadness and anger that I’ve run away from for so long, and it will overtake me. That I will be pulled down into a deep well of emotion and never escape it.”
I told her that I understood her fears, and that I promised that that wouldn’t be the case. Because, in fact, the only way to guarantee that her emotions would stick around forever was by deploying the exact strategy that she currently was – avoidance and denial.
This strategy is all too common in the world of growth work.
We fear that if we allow ourselves to feel our pain, that it will either 1) never end, or 2) that it will overtake us and we will lose control.
No emotion lasts forever.
You can feel sadness… and anger… and grief… and, eventually, they pass on. They wash over you and they leave.
If you are looking to keep moving forwards in your healing journey, it is absolutely imperative that you learn to love and accept your emotions as they arise. Until you do, they will hold you hostage and diminish your light in the world.
2. Remaining stuck in blame and victim mentality
Another common hurdle that people struggle to overcome is moving from a place of blaming others for their lives to taking responsibility for their lives.
No one gets through life unscathed. And while it is 0% your fault that these things happen to you, it is 100% your responsibility to deal with the aftermath of what your situation has given to you.
I had one client a few years ago who blamed all of his life’s shortcomings on the fact that his father had been largely absent during his childhood.
Having emotionally unavailable parents is a hindrance, no doubt. So is having one of your best friends die. So is being raped. So is being bullied for years. So are a lot of things that happen to people, every day, around the world.
At a certain point in our working relationship, I had to tell him that the pain that he felt on account of his dad not being around was real, but the fact that he was still blaming his father for all of his life’s shortcomings more than thirty years later wasn’t helping him.
When we blame other people for aspects of our lives, we shrug off the tough work of taking responsibility for ourselves.
I’ll say that again…
If you’re blaming others, you’re avoiding responsibility in your life.
Take back your power by forgiving the people you have felt victimized by, and get on with your life.
No one is coming to save you. At a certain point in your journey, you have to pick yourself up by your socks and tell yourself, “How my life goes is up to me. I’m going to become a bigger person now, and stop copping out by blaming other people for my life’s circumstances.”
3. Not moving on from their stories
Ultimately, we suffer in life to the degree that we are run by our stories and beliefs about the world.
And the bigger the belief is, the more power it will have over you.
Take these two people for example… Adam and John.
Adam believes that the world isn’t a safe place… the everyone is in it for themselves… that women can’t be trusted… that it’s hard to make money… that life is ultimately meaningless and filled with suffering… and that everyone that he loves is going to abandon him.
John believes that the world is an inherently safe and loving place… that everyone is fundamentally good and have each other’s backs… that money flows easily and effortlessly when you are in alignment with offering your highest gifts to the world… that meaning is something to be self-constructed… and that love and intimacy are things to be cultivated with anyone who you feel called to invest in.
Adam’s world view is fear-based, reluctant, scarce, and contracted.
John’s world view is love-based, trusting, empowered, and expansive.
Based on these two sets of global beliefs, who do you think will have an easier time in life? The one who believes that life is an unsafe, scary struggle, or the one who trusts in people, love, and a deeper sense of meaning?
At a certain point in your journey, after feeling your feelings and taking a higher degree of responsibility for yourself, it is a necessary step to look into and dissect what stories you carry about yourself and the world around you. Until you understand what lens you see the world through, you will project unnecessary lies onto everyone and everything around you.
Once you understand what stories your core wounds are projecting on to the world around you, you will then be in a position to comb out the metaphorical knots in your psyche and see the world as it actually is, as opposed to seeing it as your pain has convinced you it is.
Transcending The Noise Of Your Mind
A lot of growth work comes down to seeing how your mind projects noisy, convincing demons on to the world around you, and systematically distinguishing your stories from reality.
The sooner you do the work of deconstructing these imagined monsters, the sooner you can start living your life from a healthy, loving, empowered state and give your gifts freely and without fear.
If you have found your way to this article, I want you to know that I fundamentally believe in your ability to transition away from your pain and your stories.
Lean into them with an honest, willing desire, and you will transcend your mind’s bullshit in no time.
Dedicated to your success,
Ps. If you would like to speak with me directly to overcome what you’re currently going through, you can do so by clicking here.
Pps. If you enjoyed this article, you will likely also benefit from reading:
– How To Fully Release Difficult Emotions That Hold You Back
– All Of Your Suffering Was Worth It
– 11 Easy Ways To Actually Love Yourself More
– 7 Simple Life Skills That Improve Everything