Keep getting in your own way? Here's how to get rid of what's holding you back

It’s oh so frustrating when you know what you want out of life, but you just can’t seem to get it.

Your goals feel millimetres out of reach, your dreams remain distant, and you watch as other people race ahead and achieve things you’ve always desired.

Could you be holding yourself back?

Figuring that out – and working out why you keep getting in your own way – could be the key to removing all the roadblocks in your path forward.

But how do you do that? Sue Stockdale is here to guide us.

The first UK woman to ski the Magnetic North Pole, adventurer Sue Stockdale knows all about how to push yourself and get things done.

She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Do you hear yourself saying “yes, but” on a regular basis?

‘Do you look at others and feel envious of them? If so, it’s likely you are getting in your own way of achieving what you want to.

‘Rather like looking in the window of a sweet shop, the products look enticing, but when it comes to walking through the door to buy something, you just stay on the outside gazing at the delicious selection and wishing you could go in, knowing it’s probably unlikely you ever will.

‘So, you reluctantly settle for second best, or become jealous of others who are confident enough to take the actions you wish you could.

‘If this seems familiar and you feel stuck, once you can recognize what’s holding you back, you can do something to change it…’

Here’s how.

Challenge your inner self-critic

Got an inner monologue that’s plain nasty? We feel that.

Your inner voice tells you you’re rubbish and the worst possible outcome is inevitable, so you don’t try. Then when good things don’t happen, you believe your inner voice was right all along. It’s a self-defeating cycle.

‘Begin an observation experiment to develop awareness, Sue advises. ‘Notice what the times are when you criticise yourself. Is it with a particular person, or group, or when a certain issue is raised?

‘Think of it as an experiment, which helps to reduce the need for perfection.

‘By paying attention to your self-critic, it will give you data. Give yourself permission just to observe yourself, and not to judge yourself.

‘Try it out for a week. Just notice. When does it happen? In what situations in particular? What did you say to yourself? Write down the exact words because this will slow you down and will limit your speed of thinking.’

Once you start tacking that inner voice, you can notice patterns. Once you notice patterns, you can start to challenge your inner critic when it pops up, equipped with the knowledge of why it appears, whether that’s fear, bad previous experiences, or comparison.

Change ‘yes, but’ to ‘yes, and’

Sue says: ‘How often do you hear yourself saying yes…but? It’s a small phrase that allows you to remain safe

‘Well, yes, I’d love to go to the party on Friday, but I don’t have enough money.

‘Your idea sounds good, but I don’t think it will work.

‘It’s so easy to say yes but, and what it does is negate the first part of the sentence. It’s a great put-down when your friend gives you an idea, or opinion, and maybe you don’t even realise you do it. Other people can feel dismissed or put down and it subconsciously shows that you are not willing to entertain new thinking.

‘Try changing the words to yes…and. What this does is open up a conversation, it allows others’ views in, and will help you build on their ideas.

‘It’s this type of creative dialogue that can generate different outcomes that you would never have thought of on your own.

‘Make it fun and tell your friends you are trying this out. They will help you become aware of when you are closing down others’ views and ideas.

‘Put some money in a “swear box” each time you hear yourself saying yes…but.

Start asking for feedback (and help, when you need it)

You don’t need to do it all alone.

Sue explains: ‘How often do you ask other people for feedback or help? Do you not dare to ask them for fear of looking weak or inadequate?

‘If the answer is rarely, then you may be getting in your own way.

‘Maybe you struggle to change and feel that the entire world is against you, so there’s no point in even trying.

‘It’s likely you will be pleasantly surprised at what you discover if you engage others in supporting you.

‘Being vulnerable means putting yourself in a position where someone can hurt you, and it will require you to reveal something about yourself in which you may be less confident.

‘On the upside, you won’t be on your own, and sharing your ideas with your friends or family, can increase your commitment to change as its often the fear of letting others down that encourages us into action.

‘Seek feedback from other people you trust to get a new perspective. Ask them – how do you see me? What am I doing? What are you noticing?

‘And then do not judge their responses. Just listen and say thank you. And then you can ask them for ideas on how to change.

‘There is a lot of evidence that suggests that if another person knows you are focused on changing a particular aspect of your behaviour, and you regularly ask them for their observations and feedback, they become more vested in supporting you, and that will in turn provide more motivation for you too.’

Sue Stockdale is author of EXPLORE: A Life of Adventure, available on suestockdale.com and Amazon.

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