To live a full and balanced life, we are willing to do a lot: We exercise and practice yoga. We eat healthily. We try to think positively.
However, sometimes that just isn't enough.
Don't get me wrong, all of this is helpful, but it wasn't the ultimate answer to my problems. I still felt stressed and anxious. When life is exhausting and doesn't go the way we expect it to, we tend to blame external circumstances -- so we try to work on them.
But most of the time it's us who are standing in our own way.
Circumstances don't just happen. Quite often, they are the result of the opinion we have of ourselves. Our thoughts have much more influence on our success in life than we are aware of: they drive our actions and emotions.
It can be helpful to set the focus on the inside for a change and check if it's us who create roadblocks. If you recognize any of the following in yourself, you may be standing in your own way:
Many times, we ask ourselves if we have what it takes to succeed -- women especially are prone to selling themselves short. It's okay to challenge our actions, and learn from mistakes we've made. Nonetheless, when we put ourselves into question and let nagging self-doubt get under our skin, we are sabotaging our happiness.
Do: Don't think about why you can't, but how, and what you need in order to succeed. Doubts are a result of low self-esteem. Direct your energy towards learning to accept yourself, and appreciate what you have accomplished already. List your achievements and name everything, no matter how insignificant it may seem.
When matching ourselves against others constantly, we run the risk of harming our well-being. Comparison always includes judging. If the result turns out unfavorable for us, it's easy to think of ourselves as a failure. On top, we tend to measure our life against an unattainable ideal, and by that, we diminish our talents and accomplishments.
Do: Capitalize on who you are, and play to your strengths instead of looking for your flaws. Cherish what you have and don't search for what's missing. Work with what's already there and dare to be a splash of color!
3. Holding on to the past
We tend to either idealize the past as being "the good old times" or we blame it for the way our life turned out. No matter what we do, we can't change it. Everyone has emotional baggage to carry, but the crucial factor is what we do with it: Are we willing to learn and move on, or are we going to dwell on it and consider being unhappy our fate?
Do: Don't regard the past as a burden or a happy time gone forever, but as a motivation to make things better and find happiness again. And, above all, forgive yourself for past mistakes. Forgiveness is necessary for self-healing.
4. Lack of self-respect
Our thoughts often resemble a mantra of negativity, creating a vicious circle because of which we're not able to be happy. Self-respect depends to a huge degree on how we treat ourselves. Would we be overly harsh on our best friend if she made a mistake? Probably not -- because we care. It's time to start caring for the person with whom we spend 24/7 -- us!
Do: Turn your thoughts into your ally and not your worst enemy. When the little voice in your head starts scolding you again, change perspective: For once, talk to yourself as if you were a good friend, and be lenient.
If we all waited to achieve perfection, no work would ever get done. We could go on and revise our work over and over again. It will never be perfect. At some point, though, we have to stop and trust that it's good enough. When we try to give our best, this is usually more than what is expected from us.
Do: Do you still remember what the first mobile phone looked like or that computers with the power of a pocket calculator required an entire hallway to fit in? In the world of product development, continuous improvement is necessary and accepted.
Apply this analogy to yourself: Why would you want to live up to standards that aren't even met by the most successful companies in the world? Accept the wonderful "product" that you are today, and embark on self-improvement without letting perfectionism harass you.
6. Fear of the unknown
Life means surprises. Many people dream of shifting their life, but are too busy trying to figure out the safest way to do so. Change is only possible if we are not afraid of what might be coming. We always have a choice. Life is trial and error.
Do: It's better to face the unknown boldly than to stay with the devil we know if this is what makes us miserable. When we are unhappy with our job, it's natural to look for other options, but we'll never know if the next one is going to be better unless we take the plunge.
From my experience, frustration is mostly a result of disappointment, anger, and hurt that haven't been expressed. Instead of fighting back, we resign. This feeling of helplessness leads to brooding and the belief that happiness is meant for anyone but us.
Do: We can't blame others or circumstances. Don't keep stewing in your own juice and swallowing your pride. Dare to speak your mind and set boundaries. We want to be loved for who we are and not because we are easy to handle.
8. Fear of failure
If we believe that we can't make it, we give up before we even have taken the first step. Failure is in the cards when we enter new territory, but with each try, we can learn how to improve. Eventually, we are going to succeed, if we are willing to embrace failure as a valuable experience to learn from.
Do: Don't start a spiral of self-fulfilling prophecies to prove to yourself that you are a failure by approaching new challenges half-heartedly. Always give your best possible, even if it might not be enough. Eventually, you will succeed.
Do you recognize any of these in yourself? What steps will you take to get out of your own way and move toward your dreams? Share in the comments!