What is stopping you?

Kerry Sutton   January 16, 2019

You may find you are looking back over last year and wondering why you didn’t do those things you promised yourself. Why others can achieve and hit their targets, but you are stuck in the starting blocks.

This article aims to help unpick why that might be and give you some tools to help you move from inaction to action. This is your year!

Firstly, we all have an inherent inclination to self sabotage. Understanding why we hold ourselves back is the key starting-point from which we can start the process of breaking free.

Each of us is divided. On one shoulder sits our advocate – this voice is goal-directed, motivational and positive. However, on the other shoulder, and possibly the louder voice, is our chimp who often acts against us. This voice has your best interests at heart by seeking to protect you, but that includes steering you away from risk. This voice is self-critical, self-denying, and even self-soothing at times. It stops you moving outside what is comfortable or stretching yourself. After all, there is no ‘failure’ if you risk nothing.

The chimp is shaped by early life experiences. In the ways we were viewed, treated and by what we were told as we were growing up. If we were regarded as a burden or told we were stupid, these beliefs will engrain themselves in our psyche, and over time we accept them as truth. If we were lonely, we may grow to feel unworthy or uncomfortable socially. If we were told tasks would be too hard or we weren’t good enough our chimp will echo these messages for years to come.

Our inner voice appears like our friend at first. It lets us off the hook with self-soothing messages, thoughts like “have that extra slice of pie. Smoke one more cigarette. Don’t run today. You deserve it. You’re tired. Turn on the TV. Kick back. Don’t worry about your goals today.”

Listening to this voice is often comforting, but once we give in to bad habits or avoid going after what we want, our inner critic turns on us with punishing thoughts: “What a loser. You are no good. You are not worth it. You’ll never amount to anything. You’re a nobody.”

Fear is also at the root of what holds us back. It’s the fear of stepping out of the unknown. Fear of failure. Fear of loosing face. Fear of what others might think. Fear of not measuring up.

To break free, you need to consciously understand, identify and actively ignore this inner voice.

Don’t let it keep you in a confortable box, too scared to make a change because of an old, ill informed view of yourself. Take baby steps if you must, but start to take the steps needed to break free.

Have a think about what it is that is stopping you from signing up for a race you watch others doing but think you can’t. Or for applying for promotion you believe you deserve.

Make a change to a routine which isn’t serving you well. Shake off the chains of your inner critic. Stand up to it and take a leap of faith. The truth is we are much more resilient and capable than we think.