What’s Holding You Back?
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. – Marianne Williamson
You have great potential inside of you. I have great potential inside of me, too.
The thought of realizing this potential can be paralyzing and it can be frightening.
Fear can keep us stuck in a place where we believe we are not good enough. Fear can keep us from realizing our dreams and it can keep us from creating the life we want. Fear can also hold us back.
There have been times when my fear held me back and kept me from experiencing the happiness I wanted.
When I was a boy I loved to play baseball. My family lived in a rural community which didn’t provide Little League or youth baseball. Instead, I would play catch with my father or pretend I was playing in a big league game complete with line-up cards I would fill out for both teams (I always batted third and played first base for the winning team) and a uniform I got from a Sears catalog.
At age 14, we moved to a more suburban setting. There was finally a chance for me to play real baseball with real players. I was horrified. What if I failed? What if I wasn’t good enough? What I always wanted was right before me and I was too scared to take hold of it and live it. Instead, my fear was holding me back.
Think of fear as a wall you have built around yourself. This wall is made of bricks placed there, one-by-one over the course of many years. For each setback you have experienced, a brick has been added; for each insult you have endured, a brick has been added; for each self-limiting thought you have believed, a brick has been added.
Over time, this brick wall has grown taller and wider until it has reached such an imposing size you believe you will never be able to tear it down or scale over it. This wall is no doubt holding you back.
Just as the wall wasn’t built in a single day, it’s not likely you will be able to bring the wall down in one day either. Instead, you can begin removing the bricks, one-by-one, and then repurpose these bricks to build a path leading to where you want to go.
You may trip over some of the bricks along the way. When you do, avoid the temptation to pick up the brick and place it back on the wall. Instead, tap the brick further into the ground and keep moving forward in the direction you choose.
The Six C’s of Confidence
Making the choice to move forward in spite of your fear take courage and it takes confidence. These six C’s are meant to assist us in moving through all that holds us back. When we keep our eyes firmly on our goals, when we feel the need to celebrate even when we have only just begun, then we are on the road to creating the life we want.
- Clues: Where are the clues that you may be hitting some old head trash or self – limiting beliefs where it comes to your success? Do you find places in your life where you are not as productive as you’d like to be? If you were to ask others where you get stuck, what would they say?
- Clarity: Once you find the places that aren’t working, get clear on how this is impacting your life. Are you finding it hard to make ends meet, or fighting an addiction, or perhaps struggling with a self esteem issues? Tell yourself the truth so you can move forward. Clarity about the real issue will allow you to make changes.
- Challenge: Is it true? That’s the most powerful question you can ask here. You have to challenge the erroneous belief or idea. How can you challenge the ideas that are keeping you stuck?
- Combat: Here’s where the work takes place. You have to do the thing you have been holding yourself back from. You may have heard the expression, ‘The only way out is through.’
Victory will come as you combat your fears by moving into action. So if you are a little bit reluctant to ask for more responsibility at work; or approach the person you have been admiring from a distance; or begin the process of staring your own business you need to make up your mind to do it anyway. It may be comforting to know that ‘you can’t feel your way into acting differently, but you can act your way into feeling differently.’ It gets easier.
- Commit: Who will help you keep your commitment? It’s pretty common to want to squirm out of the things that make us uncomfortable, so find someone who you can be accountable to. This is one of the main reasons people hire coaches, because creating the environment that insures success is much easier that trying to use will power. Creating the life you want, and believing you deserve that life, requires self discipline. Who will you call on for support?
- Celebrate: Look at how far you have come! Remember other times when you were stuck and re-visit the habits you used to get to the other side.
Learning to Break Free
After acknowledging the fact you are being held back, for whatever reason, and you start gaining the confidence to move forward, having a few specific actions to help you keep going in a positive direction can be helpful.
- Begin Right Now . There is no better time to begin something new, something fresh than right now. Today you can make the choice to do one small action that will create the momentum needed to set you on your way. It can be one thought, contacting someone to help or motivate you, or making a written plan of what it is you are reaching for you in life. No matter the destination, the journey can begin today, right now.
- Fake it Until You Make It . You may not have the answers, or even know which questions to ask, but in the beginning you can act as though you know how to remove the bricks from your wall. This action will build the foundation for the positive momentum needed to move forward and to remove what’s holding you back. By “faking it,” you will begin the process of changing from a passive observer of your life to an active doer.
- Go Alone . At first, it may be important to dig in and attempt to do it by yourself. By doing so, you will gain even greater confidence and develop a greater understanding of the fact you are able to influence your life in a very positive way.
- Surround Yourself with Friends . Once you have made the decision to break free and begin moving past what has been holding you back, the encouragement friends can offer will be important to your long-term success. You will need validation, hope and a good hug now and them. Your friends believe in you. Allow them to lift you up.
- Leave the Past Behind . What happened in the past must stay in the past. It can not define your present value or worth unless you allow it. When you make the choice to move forward, you are also making the decision to live in this moment, in the here and now. Consider what’s ahead; what’s next in your life and place your energy in discovering more of that.
- A New Unit of Measure . Too often we measure ourselves completely backwards. Meaning, there is a tendency to measure ourselves from where we think we should be to where we are presently. For example, statements like, “I should be married by now,” or “I should be more financially independent,” are examples of this.
- Who Cares What Others May Think? This is your life. Our time in this world is precious. If we hold ourselves back because of how we think we might be viewed if we pursue a particular path or course of action, then we are giving in to the temptation of allowing others to define who we are and we are giving permission for these people to determine the life we should live.
This unit of measure can lead to frustration and disappointment. Instead, try measuring yourself from where you once were to where you are today. In this scenario, you will see the progress and effort you have made and will continue to make.
To move forward, to break free and move past whatever is holding you back requires you take back a piece of your dignity and re-claim your life; a life that is meant to be lived on your terms and will always be uniquely your own – no matter what others may think.
When your last day is upon you, I doubt your attention will be on wishing you did more of what others expected of you. I believe your thoughts, I believe my thoughts, will be on what I was able to accomplish and the value these accomplishments had on my life and on the life of others.
As a 14-year-old young man something inside me summoned the courage to walk onto the baseball field and claim my dream. I can still remember my first at-bat. I had never faced a pitcher before and my knees were knocking together so hard it mimicked the sound of a bat striking a ball.
I swallowed deep but kept my eyes wide open. I didn’t want to miss a single moment of what I had envisioned in my mind for so long. The pitch was delivered. I felt the bat as it left my shoulder. In that moment I never felt happier, or more successful.
Editor’s Note: The Six C’s for Confidence is attributed to Success Connections. This group authored the concept of The Six C’s. I adapted them for this article.