“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
― Leo Tolstoy
Say you want to make changes to your life, and after much deliberation, you’ve narrowed it down to a few things. Firstly, congratulations on this realization! It’s the first step on the path toward healing and success – and quite underrated as well.
When we are resistant to change and hesitant when it comes to trying new things, we hold ourselves back. Experiencing a change in environment or circumstances can be an eye-opening opportunity to learn. It can also facilitate personal growth.
However, it’s alright to feel stunted and stuck from time to time, being unable to take the next step. Even though you feel like things aren’t right and you want to improve, you’re unable to do so.
A lot of the times, these barriers are self-imposed and come about as a reaction to present situations. But these behaviors, when left unevaluated, can turn into liabilities in the long run.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common personal barriers that you can face. Later we’ll delve into some steps you can take to avoid this.
Carrying Emotional Baggage
Unresolved issues and trauma from your past—as far back as your childhood—can cause you to develop a stream of unhealthy coping mechanisms. We all carry some emotional baggage that manifests in different ways. It could come in the shape of fear, low self-esteem, control issues, anger, people-pleasing tendencies, and perfectionism.
These kinds of feelings come from unmet needs and having an overactive inner child. But even though childhood experiences can cause you to feel these emotions, you can work through these issues by seeking a safe space in therapy.
Work through your emotional issues so you can feel prepared and ready to address other changes in your life. Reach out for support from a mental health professional. There’s no shame in asking for help, and being vulnerable can also be an act of resistance for some.
Experiencing Negative Emotions
We’re all human, so we experience negative emotions from time to time. Anger at your circumstances can sometimes leave you too upset to see the possibility of change, but it’s important to be able to both feel the emotions and let go of them over time.
For example, a fear of being judgedcan hold you back from even attempting to step out of the box and explore other things. Sadness can leave you immobile and unwilling to do anything but tend to your open wounds.
And these negative emotions will be the first to spike when you want to change. It’s natural and normal, but the more you try to push them away, the greater the chances of an unprecedented outburst.
This is not something we’re told often, but negative emotions are valid, and they’re important too. Sometimes we need our anger to remind us why we want to experience personal growth in the first place.
An unjust system can lead you to be angry at those who don’t do anything to change it. This can be your motivation to work toward being a better person, so perhaps you can be the person who doesmake things better.
Keep reminding yourself of what makes you angry and don’t forget to ask yourself why you feel that way. Sometimes, this can be overwhelming and exhausting. When you feel this way, acknowledge it and give yourself time to rest. You need a break from your own emotions at times and deserve to feel good. Shamelessly do things for yourself that allow you to feel better and forgive yourself.
If you don’t outline clear-cut and realistic goals for yourself, you’re certainly going to struggle to meet them in due time. This can cause you to feel frustrated and disheartened.
Setting the right goals for yourself is the first step when it comes to working on yourself. Perhaps this is what’s keeping you from staying consistent. You don’t have to justify them to anyone or model them based on someone else’s life. These can be about anything in your personal and professional relationship or even habits. Think about habits you want to let go, such as smoking, sleeping late, unhealthy eating, bingeing, etc. It can also be about taking on too many tasks, being unable to say no to anyone, and always being available to others instead of yourself.
Make sure your goals are specific and outline time-sensitive tasks in tangible ways. Write them down to solidify your intention, and work out a plan to work toward achieving them. You can even consult your mentor to help guide you toward the right changes.
An Unhelpful Environment
Sometimes you might find yourself in situations that are unhealthy for you and inhibit your growth, but changing them is not in your control.
This can be a disempowering feeling and, sometimes, can make you feel hopeless. Even the toughest cactus needs the right conditions to prosper and bear flowers to fruition.
It’s not easy for all of us to leave a situation, especially if you’re underage, unemployed, etc.
What are some of the things you can do to adapt to your surroundings, if not leave them entirely?
Build a circle of friends who support you and keep you comfortable by respecting your boundaries.
Figure out an activity that is dedicated entirely to personal time and helps you relax and focus. This can be meditating for a few minutes or an intense workout session. It can also be cooking for yourself, painting, or any other hobby that you find fulfilling.
If possible, find a space within your home where you feel the safest. Sometimes it can encourage you to expand on your own creativity and help you work on carving beauty out of misery. You can even find solace in practicing mindfulness or indulging in the act of creating such as illustrating, gardening etc. These acts will help you escape and restart your personal growth.
For more information, explore the Tao Academy.