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3 Mistakes That Hold You Back in Life & How to Avoid Them

“Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here.” ~Marianne Williamson

I believe we are here to grow, to expand—to learn and experience and understand. Growth and discovery are the purpose of life.

I also believe we tend to get in our own way.

Our experiences, our cultures, and even our families can create fears and limitations that can hold us back, or hold us down. They don’t do this intentionally. It’s just that we’re all doing the best we can in this beautiful, messy, complicated world.

There are so many circumstances or experiences that can get in the way of our growth and stifle our creativity and our lives.

I’ve discovered that there are three mistakes we often make in our endeavors to grow, create, or experience something new:

Mistake #1: Not Taking Your Instincts Seriously

Have you ever said “I’m fine” when inside you were hurt or afraid? Or said “It’s not a big deal” when, in fact, it was consuming your every waking thought (and likely your dreams)?

Or maybe you even rolled your eyes at yourself; told yourself that you were overreacting, or that a comment, dream, or feeling didn’t matter.

Yeah, don’t do that.

It—whatever “it” is for you—does matter. It matters that you have a dream to start a business. It matters that you want more than what everyone else is settling for. It matters that you are upset or unsettled or craving expansion in your life.

It matters because those things are signs that you are not on the right track, signs that something is out there calling your name, signs that you’re ready to discover and devour it.

And those signs should always be taken seriously. Listen to where your inner voice. It’s there for a reason.

Mistake #2: Not Creating Space for Growth

Growth requires space—actual physical space, as well as space in your schedule.

I tend to see two reasons people don’t create this space:

  • They think it’s selfish. They have kids, work, chores, and obligations. It would be selfish to put those off just for themselves.
  • Or they don’t think it’s possible. They have kids, work, chores, and obligations. Who has time or energy to undertake anything else?

While both of those are really symptoms of not taking it seriously, there is more to it.

If you think it’s selfish to create time for you—to chase a dream, to process an emotion, to rest and reconnect—you’re not seeing one very important fact:

You can’t give to others what you don’t have, and you don’t have what you don’t take the time to give to yourself.

Growth requires self-compassion, patience, and generosity. If you ignore it, it will nag you, deplete you, and bury you in stress.

But when you give yourself the things you need, you soon begin to overflow those same things—the compassion, patience, and generosity – back into your world.

When your soul is filled up to overflowing, the feeling of impossibility takes care of itself.

Make the things that matter—such as self-care, compassion, and authenticity—priorities, and you’ll find you have the time and energy to create the life you visualize.

Mistake #3: Labeling Your Efforts

Any time you start something big or life-changing with labels like “not good enough” or “stupid,” you shut down your growth before you’ve even begun.

Because how can someone who is stupid or not good enough possibly do anything worthwhile?

But you’re not stupid, and you efforts are good enough. You have to let go of the labels and approach your experience with an open mind and heart. This is what allows you to create possibilities that are more and better than what you know.

If you’re struggling with this one, hold on to one truth: Each and every person was born pure, whole, and open to growth and learning.

The struggle doesn’t come from who you are inherently, but rather the messages you’ve heard about who you are.

“It’s not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It’s because we dare not venture that they are difficult.” ~Seneca

I leave you with these few questions:

What messages have you heard?

What are your beliefs about yourself and what you can do?

What things are holding you back from venturing into life?

Photo by katclay

Avatar of Tara Wagner

About Tara Wagner

Tara Wagner is an organic life coach, specializing in authentic, passionate, and self-designed living and family dynamics. She has created an e-book and audiobook, Digging Deep: A toolbox and workbook for personal growth, dedicated to helping others uncover blocks, overcome fears, and create self-designed lives. She also writes at www.theorganicsister.com.

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  • Dumbclothing

    So true!

  • Anonymous

     Very insightful post…speaks to what many of us experience with the obstacles that we often create for ourselves…thank you for sharing…

  • Anonymous

     Brilliant! I heard my intuition screaming, “It matters that you want more than what everyone else is settling for” earlier this year and I responded. I’m so glad I did!

  • http://zeroto60andbeyond.com Hammondartbiz

    I learned fairly early in life to trust my gut.  It took me longer to understand the importance of ‘self-talk’.  It can make all the difference in the world.  We do have the control and need to be our biggest cheer leader.
    Thanks for the post!

  • Jcook56

    Even at 54 I struggle with all of these.Now that I do have more time for me I find I don’t know who I am.

  • http://theorganicsister.com Tara Wagner

    That’s not uncommon at any age. We tend to have a lifetime of being told what we want and are given little time to make the decision ourselves.

    It’s a process to come back to your own authenticity, but an important one. I hope you;ll take it seriously. :)

  • Sasha1978

     I definitely have “allowed” myself in the past to think of myself small in the sense of not being smart enough/capable enough/experienced enough etc to have the work/life/balance I desire. I think the labeling mistake for me is by far the one I get to dispel the most. With those kinds of stressors on my growth, I can’t possibly move forward fearing that I will fall down. I have to move forward knowing that I will succeed. 

  • http://theorganicsister.com Tara Wagner

     Labels are often the biggest, most important to dispel. And you (we all) certainly deserve more than that. Moving forward has less to do with pushing through and more to do with understanding what is getting in our way, why and how to remove it. Without those things we tend to hit that same wall at some other point.

  • Tracey Quo

    I love that Seneca quote. Wisest man of all time? I think so.

  • http://twitter.com/AlannahRose Alannah Rose

    “It—whatever “it” is for you—does matter. It matters that you have a dream to start a business. It matters that you want more than what everyone else is settling for. It matters that you are upset or unsettled or craving expansion in your life.

    It matters because those things are signs that you are not on the right track, signs that something is out there calling your name, signs that you’re ready to discover and devour it.”

    That part really struck me.  In fact, I teared up reading it!  That is a very powerful thing for anyone to hear, but it is especially meaningful for me.  IT MATTERS THAT YOU WANT MORE THAN WHAT EVERYONE ELSE IS SETTLING FOR.  Several times in my life, when I’ve looked around me and said “wait, this isn’t good enough… I deseve better and I WANT better”, I’ve gotten such a negative reaction that I’ve talked myself out of doing things I knew I needed to.  My inner voice kind of learned to sleep for a while because it was just getting ignored anyway, so it didn’t bother speaking up any more.  I started listening to it again last year and I’ll never ignore it again.  It is really lovely to read all of this coming from someone else though–very powerful reinforcement and validation.

    Thank you so much for such a positive and empowering piece!

  • Rene

     Thank You!!!

  • http://psbohemian.blogspot.com/ deb

    “But when you give yourself the things you need, you soon begin to
    overflow those same things—the compassion, patience, and generosity –
    back into your world.”

    so beautiful true!

    i am profoundly touched by how much kinder, more present, and able to love i become as i do the same for myself <3

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Laura-Freeman/100002451874454 Laura Freeman

    This makes so much sense

  • Eric

    I can definitely  relate to this article in my current social/approach anxiety situation. I feel like at 21, I should be dating all the time, but my fear of approaching a girl I like in public, even though deep down I know I need to do it, is holding me back.I’ve done it once, and it was kind of awkward, but it felt great afterwards, but that was 6 months ago and I’ve lost the progress I made then. I know I’m attractive, and I’ve seen girls alone that I was positive are shy/single, so similar to me, but I still can’t bring myself to approach.

  • Mooneybj12

     Agree with most of the points.  I’ve found that “recognition” is important.  Its not just a matter of going thru life looking at things; it a matter of “seeing” them as they really are. Photography really opened my eyes.  I don’t take “snap-shots” I take pictures.  A balanced perspective. Look into the smaller things as well as the whole dynamic. I found a whole new universe when I started taking pictures with my single lens reflex camera (what you see is what you get)…extension tubes pushed the lens further away from the film.  Macro-photography.  There’s a whole different world right in your backyard…and its almost unbelieveable what I missed not really seeing these things.  Now I see the whole world with a new perspective.  The colors in a rain-drop on a spiders web.  I stopped killing bugs and the like…I let them be…to create their environment.  Now, when I see things I see the little things as well.  The same process has carried over to almost everything I do.  I’m making one-of-a kind guitars. There’s so many little things that goes into the finished product…and if I pay attention to the little details…I create a wonder work of art….with my hands and my mind.  Wonderfull stuff. Someone said god lives in the details…and I believe that.  It’s buddah-like.–BJ Mooney

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  • Anonymous

    There aren’t any shoulds. Take the pressure off yourself ok?

    So what’s holding you back do you think? What’s your inner dialog saying? What’s the fear feel like?

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  • http://theorganicsister.com Tara Wagner

    What I understand about our inner workings is that making ourselves do something or take some action will not get us anywhere unless we understand what is getting in our way to begin with. How can we overcome what we can’t see?

    Ariella’s questions are perfect. If you’re interested in more of this line of thinking you can check out the Digging Deep link above in the author bio. :)

  • http://theorganicsister.com Tara Wagner

    Beautiful BJ. Thanks for adding that element to the discussion. :)

  • KSC20

    Tara,
    What a fantastic article. The meaning of your prose really touched me. I am new to meditation and the concept of Buddhism, and it has helped me ten fold over the past few weeks. My therapist advised me to try something new, and i stumbled upon tinybuddha.com whilst doing some research. Please keep writing more of your fantastic words of wisdom as it has inspired me to continue with my meditation. 

  • @tambobambo

    I struggle with all three of these things and have only really begun to understand the concept of putting my instinct, my needs and my time first.
    I kind of came to these conclusions in the last 6 months and this article has reaffirmed a lot of decisions I’ve made. Thank you TB!

  • http://twitter.com/Omwoods Bhakti Omwoods

    “The struggle doesn’t come from who you are inherently, but rather the messages you’ve heard about who you are.”
    Amen! Wonderful points.

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  • Thrustrob

    If she could ever love me back with this love I have inside, a new life would begin that we both have never known.

  • Birdez

    I think the money and time element stops me from following my dream! I found it encouraging though.

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  • Leigh-Ann

    Wow…just what I needed to read !!!

    Thank-you.

  • Lpatrick2

    Wow, just what I need to read and hear !!!

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KTRUDTLHZE3GIOQSCCD54MF25Y Melissa

    thanks for this. grateful for the insight.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KTRUDTLHZE3GIOQSCCD54MF25Y Melissa

    thank you for the post- and the insight. grateful.

  • Jo-Anne

    *My inner voice kind of learned to sleep for a while because it was just getting ignored anyway, so it didn’t bother speaking up any more.*
    The voice in my head shut down too, or rather I wouldn’t listen to my voice because I am too busy listening to everybody else’s written or spoken word because there is such an amazing world of wisdom out there.

    I think my Spirit shut my voice down using spasmodic dysphonia to get my attention to the fact that I was endlessly taking in wisdom but not sharing and giving or if I did it was heavily censored to lessen negative feedback.  

    I have now given the voice in my head permission to scream and I now speak and write my wisdom in the hope that I can heal me and in healing me I do my bit to heal the world.

    Big hopes…

  • Kayasweetkaya

    I was looking for something online to read. (To be honest I really didn’t know what that “something” was) So I took a long deep breath and type into Google “Don’t hold yourself back from doing things you want & love” And I came across this lovely post! Thanks so much for writing this & it’s very true. I feel like I ignore my inner voice a lot of the time. This really touched me & I’ll keep this close.

  • Tambe Churchill Ashu

    I’m very Ok with your school of thought

  • shelly

    What a lovely article. I have sent this onto my 23 year old god daughter. Thanks for sharing. Xx

  • Sol

    Sometimes I feel so trapped inside myself that, I cant control my life that everything around me is a test. I feel like if I speak up others would just smack my words away, Day in and day out I think about what it would be to love someone, what it would be to have a feeling that isn’t a dream. Something that feel real to me, and something that cant be controlled or taken away.

    I fear so much and I hold so much in, but all of this I feel, never comes out.