How To Get Out of Your Own Way and Start Living the Life You Want – 6 Experts Reveal Stunningly Effective Strategies
“We sabotage the great things in our lives because deep down we don't feel worthy of having the great things.”
― Taressa Riazzi
A sincere thanks to all the awesome experts who shared their best tips, insights and strategies on how to get out of your own way and start living the life you want.
There’s a saying, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.
It’s so important to have an idea of who you want to be, where you want to go, and what you want to do. If you don’t have a clue of either of these, there are plenty of people out there who can fill your time, day, and schedule with dreams of their own.
So, if you want to have a better life, get clear on what you want from it.
It’s not always someone else who stands in your way to getting what you want. Often, it’s you. It’s a lot easier to say no to others when you know what you want for yourself. It is also easier to move stumbling blocks out of your way when you’ve got your eyes set on what you want; a clear goal. When you’re that focused, there’s no stopping you.
One of the tips from my book, Relationship Success Tips: Tips for a Healthy, Loving, Well-Connected Relationship, is: Your thinking—whether positive or negative—will affect and influence your behavior and your relationships with the same results: positive or negative.
An example of this would be thinking you can’t be, do or have something you wish you had. Well guess what?
If you think you can’t, chances are you won’t. Change begins in the way you think. Don’t try to tackle everything all at once.
Work on one thought, habit, behavior, desire, or challenge at a time. Just one!
Often, people tend to focus on their feelings about something and allow it to deter them. If this is something you’re doing, change what you’re thinking. That’s where your emotions are coming from; your thoughts. That’s why they change so often.
Because from one moment to the next, whatever happens or whoever says something, can cause a shift in what you think, then draw in your feelings.
When you realize you’re feeling some kind of way and you don’t like it, check your thoughts. If you don’t like them, change them. Think about something else. Your feelings will also change; unless there’s some chemical imbalance or something else going on.
Just like when you’re watching something on a TV channel that you’re not interested in. Do you just sit there and watch it anyway or do you change the station? Well, it’s the same thing going on in your head. It’s a channel that makes you feel one way or another. If you like it, leave the channel where it is; but if you don’t, just switch the station. Got it?
This is really a good life changing principle that can help you stay on your path. You see, everybody has their own. You must be clear on yours so that when something or someone, including YOU, get in your way, you know what to do.
Change the channel and refocus.
One thing is for sure, you can’t blame someone else for your lack of clarity, drive, motivation, or success. That’s giving away too much power and control. Take it back!
It’s easy to get distracted from time to time, no matter what you’re doing; especially when you have a lot on your mind. The purpose of having a goal, dream, mission, or something you’d like to see happen, is so that when you are discouraged, overwhelmed, or have an obstacle in your way, you have something to return to—your goal.
Be intentional about what you choose to focus on.
It will provide you creative ways to accomplish your mission, and most certainly will help you get out of your own way.
If you want a better life, get clear on what you want from it, because better clarity will most certainly help you have a better life. That’s my wish for you. Reach out and connect if I can help you do just that.
Barbara Ann Williams, LPC, MS – www.barbaraannwilliams.com
If you’re interested in getting out of your own way, where do you start? How can you begin to find freedom from your habits and come back to yourself?
Just asking this question is an opportunity for celebration.
Rather than being gripped by the habits that mute your zest for life, you’re ready to bring consciousness to them. You’re ready to move beyond same old, same old—to a way of being that is fresh and free.
You’re ready to get out of your way and into your life.
Whatever your patterns are—fear that blocks you, the need to please others, a sense of not being good enough, a tendency to criticize, compulsive behaviors or addictions—these arise in you, but they aren’t the true essence of you.
How to meet these conditioned habits so they serve your freedom?
Find the Gap
If you look carefully, you’ll see it’s possible to find a gap between you and the thoughts and emotions that arise in you.
Instead of being locked into the content of your stories, notice your thoughts. Observe how emotions move in your body. Be aware of the urges behind your behavior.
Become intimately familiar with these patterns and how they bring about suffering so you can choose freedom instead.
And notice that the observing part of you, that which notices, is already peaceful and problem-free.
When you’re caught in the energy of a habit, press pause. Habits are automatic and repetitive. They run outside of conscious awareness.
As much as you can, stop the momentum by pressing pause. Take a slow and conscious breath. Look around you and deeply experience all that’s here right now.
Feel the radical shift from the tension of conditioning to expansion into present moment awareness.
Now move from this sense of being fully alive rather than from the trap of conditioning.
Forget the self-bashing and shame when you realize you’ve been locked into a pattern. Instead, with great kindness, ask questions. Be curious about the answers that appear.
- What is happening in my experience right now?
- What stories am I believing that may not be true?
- What can I surrender right now that isn’t serving?
- Can I stop and breathe?
- What is most alive in me right now?
- What do I really want?
See how you can have a whole new relationship to your experience? You don’t have to mindlessly play out habits that separate you from your true path. In any moment you can notice these habits—and begin to get out of your way.
Find the gap, press pause, and ask questions. No longer stuck in conditioned patterns, you’re here: awake, openhearted, and fully available to life.
Gail Brenner, Ph.D. - www.gailbrenner.com
“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” –Bruce Lee
Personal growth and life transformations start with awareness.
An awareness of time, our most valuable currency, provides an opportunity to cut through chaos and move straight to the creation of goals and strategies for achieving those goals.
For many, even the awareness of time and our humanity isn’t enough to break free from pain, take chances, and discover our best lives. Why is that?
The simplest explanation is that it’s easier to be complacent than to experience the discomfort that comes with change and the unknown.
But there are those that understand the value of time and are no longer willing to accept pain. Once the switch has flipped, amazing transformations can begin.
A dear client stated, “Well, I better get to changing or get to dying, because I can’t do this anymore.”
Her switch flipped. She created goals and within a year of our first visit she divorced her abusive husband, found good a job, and started college. She and her daughter are safe and happy. It wasn’t easy, but she is proud of her accomplishments. She is an example of how the awareness of time and pain can motivate change.
When we’re aware of time, we do our best to spend it wisely.
We are watchful of seemingly benign ways time is wasted. We let go of past and regrets. We no longer anticipate another person’s opinions or judgements. We refuse to be robbed of our time, damage our self-esteem, or impact our personal growth.
“My past is divided into two parts: Incredible memories or amazing lessons,” is an affirmation I created to remind my clients to look forward and to find the good in every experience.
Recalling or revisiting any memory can be useful, once we decide that it is.
Experiences are good teachers and are the main ingredients of empathy, understanding, compassion and love.
Remember, it takes the same amount of time to generate negative or positive words and thoughts. Unfortunately, it is easy to default to negative and outdated programming, especially if we have been perfecting our negativity for a few decades.
However, we can train our minds to default to more positive thoughts and behaviors by:
1. Pausing – When you notice negative thoughts or speaking words, simply pause and pay attention to for about five to eight seconds.
2. Processing – During the pause, ask yourself, “Is this a good use of my time?”
3. Proceeding – Using the feedback from pausing and processing to decide your next steps.
Over the next week, notice how you spend your valuable time.
Write down the amount of time you spend doing tasks you hate, thinking thoughts that don’t serve you, or feeling guilt or shame. Count the minutes and hours and then ask yourself, “What would I love to be doing instead of this?” Then, do that and be happy.
Renae Cerquitella, Relationship Coach - www.StartHereCoachingServices.com
Getting out of your own way seems like a no-brainer. Everyone wants to succeed right? It seems like although there may be obstacles to overcome, they would come from the outside, not from within you.
In truth, often the biggest obstacles to success really are the ones you unconsciously create for yourself.
Succeeding in life takes planning and confidence. In general you need to have the belief that you are capable of executing your plan. Outside factor such a bad economy, a saturated market or possible a bad idea can of course wreak havoc on the best-laid plans. But if you don’t believe you are capable or worthy of success you are likely to experience difficulty and even self-sabotage.
Where does self-confidence come from? It’s almost always a result of messages from the family of origin.
Kids need to feel that their parent(s) believe in them. They need to feel supported in their endeavors even when they fail. In fact it’s really when they fail that the parental message becomes most important.
Parents who normalize failure and encourage kids to try again are giving an implicit message that they believe in that kids ability to ultimately succeed. They encourage resilience , a “don’t give up attitude”, because failure if often a part of success.
Perhaps paradoxically, parents who do too much for their kids give a subtle message that they don’t believe in their kids’ capabilities.
“If they believe in me, why are they doing the work for me? These are parents who at their worst see their kids as an extension of themselves, so any failure becomes personal.
At their best these parents truly want their child to succeed in the world. They want their kids to get into all of the special, gifted programs, and the best colleges. These parents mean well, but their over-functioning efforts are ultimately undermining of the kids self-confidence, competency and resilience.
There are of course abusive families who inevitable produce damaged kids who become damaged adults. These kids and adults really have a tough row to hoe. Coming from a family that undermines you with criticism, contempt, physical, emotional or sexual abuse can cripple their children for life.
What can one do to overcome obstacles emanating from the family of origin?
Truthfully this is difficult to do on your own. It’s like trying to be your own therapist. The difficulty is that you are too close to your own family to see it clearly. You are a part of a system in which there are rules and roles, some spoken, some not, that govern how all members, including you define yourselves.
It’s an emotional journey to explore your family of origin. It can bring up a lot of confusing memories and emotions that really interfere with objectivity. Beginning the exploration with someone who is neutral is usually a lot more productive.
That being said, you can begin the process by exploring your ancestry, now so easy to do!
You can create a family tree that lets you see patterns across generations. Having a context is really useful to understanding yourself and how you operate in other systems.
Clearly the family of origin experience has a great deal to do with how well we succeed in life.
I think it’s always useful to examine your past to understand yourself in the present. It’s not about assigning blame; it’s about understanding the family of origin context in order to overcome emotional obstacles to success.
Sally Leboy, MS, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
Do you feel that fears have more control on your life then you do? Fears are very powerful and can limit our lives if we let it.
First figure out how your fear is getting in your way of personal growth.
Is it a fear created from personal experience or from others experience or news? For instance, if you were bullied as a kid you may have self esteem issues.
These issues may include a fear of talking to new people. This could prevent you from dating, getting a promotion, standing up for yourself or enjoying a weekend with a group of friends, etc. Decide what your fear is preventing you from doing or experiencing.
Then, focus on what your fears are preventing you from doing.
For instance, imagine yourself talking to people without fear. Imagine going up to people and saying “hi” or give a compliment that makes not only them smile, but you as well.
Imagine being the life of the party or giving your boss that presentation you know the others haven’t even thought of yet. Imagine what you would say, feel, act, how it feels to be listened to, smiled at, asked for advice or information or looked up to or liked.
Then, find something that you enjoy.
For instance, arts and crafts, exploring your hometown, playing a game, cooking or anything that makes you smile or feel content. Think of this as a time you are the kid in the toy store with no adult supervision. Try any activity you find and pick the ones that you love and like. This is your stress relief and life enhancer.
Now, once you have found the stress relief, you use this to keep your stress levels down thus allowing it to be easier to deal with your fear.
For instance, if painting is something that you love then paint before facing your fear of meeting people. Then, paint that morning and practice saying “hi” to people in the afternoon. Then paint again, then go out and give compliments to 20 people. Keep doing things after painting. The painting gives you a boost thus making meeting people easier to accomplish.
Keep repeating until you feel the fear is not in your way of personal growth.
This can take months or years but may only take days or weeks. Don’t get discouraged, just keep working toward becoming stronger than your fear. Don’t think about the fear itself. Thinking about your fear gives it power.
The more power you give your fear the more you must overcome.
Instead think about the outcome of talking to people, making friends and feeling confident. This takes power out of your fear.
Then celebrate!!!!! You have overcome a fear and had a personal growth you never thought would happen.
Katherine Woodworth, LPC, CRC – www.fairwaycounseling.com
“The road is smooth. Why do you throw rocks before you?” – Unknown
It’s so easy to blame other people for difficult situations we find ourselves in or for our general discontentment. However, that takes our power away, because – if it’s all somebody else’s fault – then how do we have any control over things to improve them?
Although it can be uncomfortable sometimes to be honest with yourself, taking personal responsibility for the way your life is and for changing it can be one of the most empowering changes of mindset you can adopt.
When we accept that finger pointing has done us no good so far and it’s time instead to look at how we can get out of our own way and stop placing obstacles in our own paths, then we will know true growth and transformational change.
Here are five ways in which you may well be sabotaging your own happiness. I personally relate to all of them (as well as a good few more)! How many do you recognize?
“I've lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” – Mark Twain
We’ve all done it: stressed ourselves out out thinking about an imagined future that doesn’t exist and may never come to pass. (Yes, read that last part again!) Having imaginary conversations with people in your head and then getting angry with them in real life does not have any basis in reality and is, quite frankly, not any good for your peace of mind. You are literally making yourself worried for nothing and causing your brain to think these things are actually happening, when they are complete works of fiction.
A useful solution from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to bring your brain back to thinking more rationally again is to look at the ‘evidence’ that supports this way you are thinking.
For example, if you are worried you are going to lose your job and end up living in a cardboard box under a bridge, what about looking at the fact you’ve managed to keep a job so far in your life, or how you’ve always managed to support yourself in the past, or that you have friends and family who would support you in difficult times… the list goes on.
In addition, you can focus on staying in the present and asking yourself: ‘Is everything good right now?’ If so, you don’t really have a problem, do you?
2. Persisting with habitual behavior
“Alas, of all the enemies, habit is perhaps the most cunning, and it is cunning enough never to let itself be seen, for he who sees the habit is saved from the habit” – Søren Kierkegaard
Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity was “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”.
We develop coping mechanisms in our early years that then become habits. Unfortunately, we then persist doggedly with this behavior into our adult lives, even if it now longer serves us – or actively sabotages us – and the threats we faced in childhood are long gone.
Imagine the woman who can’t work out why she always gets walked over at work or seems to attract controlling partners? Is she carrying the ‘people pleasing’, conflict avoiding ways she learned in childhood as a way to avoid anger from an abusive parent into her adult life at home and at work?
The great news about habits is that, because they were learned, they can be unlearned and replaced with more healthy behaviors. Our brains ‘wiring’ can take a little focus to redirect, but it has been proven time and time again that we are capable of huge change – even into our later years.
Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to change throughout or lives.
Energy flows where attention goes, so start focusing on the new habits you want to form and actively choosing not to go down old brain pathways. Do not be disheartened if you slip back into an old habit occasionally, awareness of the habit and a openness to change it is more than half the battle.
3. Clinging to our expectations
“What will mess you up the most is the picture in your head of how it’s supposed to be” – Unknown
How many of us are disappointed when we receive something because it’s not how we pictured it? If we create a rigid image of how we believe things ‘should be’, we will never be happy with what we have because we are constantly comparing it to this fictitious scenario or items in our heads.
By all means, visualize what you are working towards in life, but then drop the picture in your head and allow for the possibility that you could receive something better than the limits of your imagination could construct. Consider how you can be more flexible in your thinking.
4. Choosing to see the negative
“People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be” – Abraham Lincoln
Our thoughts and words become our reality in life. If we are always choosing to see the negative in a situation then we will see more and more negativity in our lives. After all, the Reticular Activating System in our brains ensures that we get what we look for. It acts as a gatekeeper to filter the vast input of sensory information coming into your brain. Without realizing it, you program it with what to look for.
Imagine you are on the look out for a new car of a particular type. What do you see everywhere? Yes, cars of that type. If you are trying to get pregnant, the world is suddenly full of babies!
Instead of programming your brain to find the negative and support this story that you mad up of you being a victim, wouldn’t it be more constructive to your happiness if you chose to program your brain to look instead for the good in every situation? One way to do this is through a daily gratitude diary, which will actively ‘program’ your brain to find things in your day to be thankful for.
5. Not accepting things as they are
“It is your resistance against ‘what is’ that causes your suffering” – Buddha
We think it’s a particular situation that is causing us mental and emotional pain, when it is always our reaction to this situation that provides the anguish. Before you get angry with me, go back to some times in your life when you were angry, stressed or upset. Could you have chosen to see things a different way – and one that you cause you less suffering?
If you still believe that people or situations ‘make’ you angry, picture a traffic jam and two passengers in the same car. One sits there driving themselves crazy with rage as they cannot accept they will arrive late and they feel frustrated about their inability to change things, whilst the other one accepts the situation and makes the best of it by getting out a deckchair and sitting in the sunshine beside the car! The same situation, yet two very different approaches! Surely, then, it can’t be the situation directly causing the rage.
In the words of Victor Frankl (who incidentally survived a very challenging situation – in a concentration camp); “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Accepting the situation as it is and then looking at how you can make the best of it is not only better for your blood pressure, but its also the logical approach: how can you make any change until you’ve accepted the point at which you are currently act.
Acceptance is not weak or passive but a string foundation on which to build. Practice letting go of wanting things to be difference and embrace how things are in this present moment.
Finally, when in doubt, another approach you can take to avoid sabotaging your own happiness is to lighten up and play at things a little.
After all, in the words of Oscar Wilde; “life is too important to be taken seriously”.
Jo Ritchie, Transformational Change Coach - www.joritchie.com