Cert SM

what’s stopping you?

Has it ever happened to you that you that you have simply felt unable to get ahead in life and do those things that are important to you? It is certainly not uncommon for a person to feel blocked in some way. There are probably times when it is clear to you what it is that's at the root your frustration - perhaps you even know what needs to be done about it; but, there may be other times when, for no apparent reason, you may feel well and truly stuck.

As a person, you are unique, and any block you may experience will, of course, be unique to you. Still, there are a few fairly common factors that often serve to hold people back. These include a lack of confidence, some form of inner conflict or simple procrastination. It might be an idea to consider these in respect to your own journey through life.


a lack of confidence

Self-confidence allows you to trust yourself and provides you with the sense that you are able to cope with whatever anxieties, fears or worries may arise. Doubting yourself, on the other hand, will make it more difficult for you to move forward in life. Still, no matter how much you may have grown as a person, certain aspects of yourself are likely lag behind others.

With personal growth, your expectations of yourself may have increased over time, and you may already be displaying a great many positive qualities. You do, however, continue to retain a shadow side, which could, in all probability, result in you doing things that cause you to feel bad about yourself. You could, for example, find yourself being bad tempered, small minded or lazy. Still, behaviour is always a choice you are able to make; it just means that you have made a poor one on a particular occasion.

So, what happens when you have made such a poor behaviour choice? Do you then go on to describe yourself as being aggressive, bigoted or bone-idle? Such labels will naturally impact on your opinion of yourself, and therefore on your level of confidence. Consider how such messages might affect a child’s confidence. Nurturing your own inner self (think of it as your own inner child) can be an effective way of growing your confidence level over time.


an inner conflict

Sometimes, we end up wanting various things that are in conflict with each other. For instance, wishing to spend more time with your family may not be a very realistic goal if you would also like to continue studying and, at the same time, you feel a need to put more time and effort into your business or occupation. It makes sense that you will need to examine these important objectives together and then establish clear priorities for yourself.

Other times, inner conflicts may run deeper than this. We, each of us, have various parts or aspects to ourselves. You could, for example, recognise a part of you that is a lover, a part that is a warrior and a part that is a party animal. For most people, these various parts coexist relatively seamlessly, but problems can arise when they start to pull you in different directions, especially when some are more concerned with short-term gratification and others with long-term growth and security.

It is never a good idea for you to deny or reject aspects of yourself. If you go deep enough, you will find that even parts of you that are seemingly at odds with each other will each be concerned about your greater welfare, and at their core, will want fairly similar things for you. The trick, therefore, is to work with your conflicting parts, as best you can, so as to bring them into harmony with each other.

We can also bring with us unresolved issues from our childhood. When we are young, we tend to have very few options at our disposal, and so find solutions that are limited to the few choices we had at the time. These form behaviour patterns that can become entrenched. Very often, a once valid solution we learned to employ during childhood can be at the root of an issue we now face. For example, if you learned as a young person to run away from difficult situations, you may have developed a pattern of behaviour that is now preventing you from effectively facing up to, and resolving, today’s issues.


a secondary gain

Secondary gain is a compelling benefit that may be derived from not making changes, or from not achieving your otherwise desired outcomes. Almost all your behaviours will initially have been established in order to serve a valid purpose, or fulfil a real need in your life; however, even if they have lost their original usefulness and have since begun to hold you back, you may find they continue to retain some, often surprising, secondary benefits that can be quite difficult to give up.

A person with a stutter may for example, either consciously or unconsciously, appreciate the attention that his or her way of speaking provides, or may enjoy being able to hide behind it or use it as an excuse at those times when he might otherwise be expected to speak out publically. Also, a person wishing to stop smoking may quite like the idea that smoking allows her to step out of the office a number of times each day and to enjoy the opportunities it provides for companionship with fellow smokers and to catch up on company gossip.

Change can be daunting at the best of times, but it is made all the more difficult when you fear losing a benefit of being the way you are at present. Becoming aware of such fears, and then consciously weighing them up with the outcomes you want, will be helpful towards your progress.



Perhaps you tell yourself that you have been putting things off because you are not very good at a something, because you do not have enough time or because you are just plain disorganised. Very often, you will find that the real reasons are more to do with a lack of commitment to your objectives, fear of taking action or perfectionism. Overcome these, and there is a good chance that you will be able to forge ahead.

It is always helpful to develop an understanding of the patterns of behaviour you run. Indeed, such awareness can be liberating. It will help you to identify your intentions and clarify your options. It will let you to decide if you really want to do the thing you have been putting off, and then help you to accept the consequences of your decision, one way or another.

If your decision should be to go ahead with your plans, you will become aware that you then have a further choice. You can either continue to procrastinate, accepting the consequences of the damage this pattern may cause, or you can take the necessary steps to change.



To overcome a block to your progress, it may be necessary for you to break through the fears that have been preventing you from taking action. Again, it is necessary to become aware of what it is that may have been making you feel apprehensive. Simply acknowledging the things that have been scaring you can, on occasion, be enough to completely dispel them. Other times, further work may be needed to finally break it down.

In my practice, there are a number of common fears that crop up time and again. Perhaps either some or all of them may apply to you.


A fear of the unknown:

We are prone to fear uncertainty and the things that might happen to us should we step out of our comfort zone. It is helpful to become realistic about potential dangers, embrace the unknown and live experimentally.


A fear of embarrassment:

Embarrassment may have short-term emotional consequences for us, but usually it will not have serious ones in the longer term. Indeed, usually the people we were concerned about will tend to quickly forget most instances when we have felt this way. Rather than to have it hold you back, it is helpful to get the fear of embarrassment into its proper perspective.


A fear of rejection:

It is great to feel accepted, however, people differ one from another, and at any time there will be those that like you quite a bit and those that like you less. That is a given. It is therefore helpful to remember that a person’s acceptance or rejection of you has no bearing at all on your intrinsic worthiness as a person. To put any fear of rejection into its proper perspective can be liberating.


A fear of failure:

Although a fear of failure can be crippling, it is a fear that makes little sense. This is because, if you do nothing, you are certain to avoid success. In my practice, I will tell you that there is, in fact, no such thing as failure. There may, at times, be an outcome you would like to improve on, but there is usually a chance to go back and change the things that caused that outcome.


a fear of success:

A fear of success is a fear of change. It may largely be to do with the issue of secondary gain, dealt with above, or it may be to do with a lack of confidence and self-worth. It is helpful to both see the bigger picture of what positive change can do for you, and of course to value yourself enough to embrace it.


Please read my articles on goal setting, as well as the page on achieving flow. Alternatively, feel free to contact me with any questions you may have related to this topic.

The combination of coaching, mindfulness and hypnotherapy can be a most effective one in creating real change in your life. Should you perhaps feel you could do with some help in setting your own life goals, or would like my support in overcoming a particular block you may be experiencing, it might be an idea to make an appointment to see. As always, I shall only charge should you go on to actually work with me in the future.


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“If you continue to dig the same hole in the same place in your life, eventually you will be standing in a grave.”

? Shannon L. Alder