“Your greatest self has been waiting your whole life; don’t make it wait any longer.”
– Dr. Steve Maraboli
Often times if I chose to look at what is causing problems in my life I find that there isn’t anyone else to blame except myself. It’s much easier and feels better to blame someone else. Being the victim is easier than being the one that needs to change. The problem I find is that playing this victim card only keeps me stuck. It often only makes me more angry, bitter, and frustrated.
I want change in my life but sometimes I don’t want to take the necessary steps for it to happen. It’s easy to say I want things to change, but the hard part comes when I have to take action. I have to be the one to decide if I want to take the challenge to get what I want, which also requires me to put in the hard work to get it. Here’s how I figured out how to get out of my own way.
I’m constantly beating myself up
This is one of the most self-destructive behaviors anyone can do so naturally I’m really good at it. I struggled to see the positives in myself and often the situation I was in which made me feel weighed down. Feeling this way caused the self-hatred cycle to continue. I know that hatred is a strong word but the way I was handling relationships and myself was destructive.
I had come to a point where I decided I needed to change. At this point in my life I was my own worst critic. There was no worse enemy than the one I was to myself. These feelings were invisible on the outside, no one could see this going on with me but I could. It wasn’t until I saw just how much damage holding on to the guilt that I knew I had to change.
How I stopped
I had to get real with myself and this was a place I didn’t want anyone to see. I asked myself if I was helping or hurting myself by beating myself up so much. I knew the answer but had to face it and realize that by continuing this behavior it only pushed me further to a place of disgust and disappointment.
I knew I had to take action or I would continue to spiral down so I realized that I had to give myself permission that it is okay to make mistakes. I had to accept that all mistakes weren’t permanent and that self-forgiveness was the best chance I had at peace.
I had to be flexible with myself and not so rigid. I saw any mistake as unacceptable and every mess up (and there were many) as absolutely unacceptable. I needed to get to the bottom of my spiral to realize that only I could bring myself back up.
I would easily forgive a friend who made a mistake or asked for forgiveness so why was I holding myself to such a standard that I couldn’t do the same. I had to practice all of the time and often saying the words out loud was helpful because it allowed me to confront that inward critic.
I’m a people pleaser and saying “No” seemed impossible
I learned late in life of my inability to make another person feel happy or feel anything at all. It would have been perfect if I were taught as a child that I have no control of how another person feels, but that wasn’t the case.
There are many people in my life clients, friends, family, or others that really struggle with people pleasing. They feel they don’t have the right to say “No” to people due to fear that they will come across mean, unhelpful, or uncaring.
I had a hard time with the concept that I may be perceived as being rude or unwilling to help someone in need.
People pleasers often don’t speak up for their own needs because they don’t prioritize themselves and begin to “stuff and stack” their feelings. It would be too much to speak their mind so they just “stuff and stack” often until they find themselves using unhealthy coping skills to deal with the stress.
Overeating, reaching for anything with sugar, excessive drinking and a ton of other things to help avoid dealing with self. Also, it seems like many people pleasers can rationalize these by saying “I’m not hurting anyone” and “This is what I do for me.”
How I stopped
I started by saying one of the most powerful two letter words out there, “No”. Many people and situations will pressure me to say, “Yes, I can do that”. Even when I don’t want to say “yes”, I still do.
Speaking up, asserting self, and saying “No, I’m not able to” or “No, I can’t but maybe another time” is very powerful. Saying no doesn’t make me mean, ugly, or not helpful. It makes me in control of my own life…isn’t that the real goal?
Many times it’s my fears that keep me from speaking up so why not challenge myself and see if any of the worst-case scenarios that run through my head actually come true. Worst case a friend gets angry because I have to change plans or a family member gets frustrated because I’m unable to help out.
Each of these people have said “no” to me before and I didn’t blow a fuse so I deserve the same ability to say no to those that request of my time if I don’t want to give it to them. If I politely and assertively say no to someone, then they stay angry with me, then it is my responsibility to look at the role they serve in my life.
If someone holds a grudge against me for speaking up for what I need to do for my life, they may not need to be that important in my life.
My biggest challenge is learning how to get out of my own way. It’s not what others are doing to me. I know that no one could beat me up worst than I could myself, because I have a tendency to be really hard on myself.
No one can mess up my life. Only I can because I’m the one in control of it, regardless of how much I would like to blame others. I had to make the choice to see that the barrier in my life was me and given that fact, I had to do something about it.
Have you been able to get out of your own way? What helped you to do this? Feel free to share any that you think would be helpful for others to know in the comment section below.
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A clinical sexologist and psychotherapist. From sex/intimacy, personal growth, and relationships, I am here to help you every step of the way.