This Is What's Holding You Back

Photo: Over The Water Bungalows, Maldives 2018

If there's one thing I could teach you for the rest of your life, this is it! Let me help you unravel what's been holding you back from living the life of your dreams..

Do you feel stuck in your current job, relationship or another area of your life? 

Are you feeling like you're not as far along as you'd envisioned you would be by this point in your life? Don't lie, I know you've made those crazy goals for yourself that look something like this: "By the age of 25 I want to be married. Age 28 I'll have 3 kids & definitely by 30 I'll have the house of my dreams- for sure". We've all dreamt up the 'perfect' timelines for our lives.

Here's the issue. Not only is it unrealistic to make plans that you ultimately have no control over. Such as having babies or being married ( remember- it takes TWO people for those goals to even potentially come to fruition & the only person you have control over is yourself). But, it also leads to playing the 'comparison game' with your friends & family. Believe me, it's not a fun game to play... And no one wins. 

I've been there too. I know what it's like to feel stuck. It sucks! It's such a helpless feeling & makes you feel completely lost & like you're not deserving or good enough. 

I've worked really hard on myself & have been on a pretty intense self development journey the last few years. Looking back on situations where I've felt stuck in life, something amazing occurred to me that I knew I needed to share with you! It's going to sound annoying for you to hear this but keep reading & I'll explain...

YOU'RE the one holding YOURSELF back. Yep. It's the truth. The answer is YOU & only you.

I know, it's kind of like how you were hoping for a 'secret' weight loss strategy when we ALL know the real secret is diet & exercise- which by the way, it actually is. Yes, it's annoying as heck! 

The great thing about the answer being YOU. Is that the answer IS YOU! You're in full control of yourself- Yes, you are! Every bite you take, every step you make... you know the song... haha! I know, I know, it doesn't quite go like that...

Let's dig into this so that I can help you have a major break through in your life right now! It's all good things to come from here! First, I need you to go somewhere quiet, cozy & relaxing. Somewhere you can reflect & get completely honest with yourself. 

I'll wait...

Ok, now that your cozied up maybe with a nice hot tea or coffee...Make a list of your top 5 personal flaws. Be so honest it hurts. You don't have to share them with anyone but yourself. If you want to, you can share them with me. I'm a very reliable friend. For the purpose of this exercise & the fact that I've committed myself to being open & honest with you- Here are mine:

1. Angry
2. Stubborn 
3. Controlling
4. Perfectionist
5. Skeptical

Sucks when you actually write them out like that. Your top 5 flaws right there in black & white. Staring at you (most definitely giving you a dirty look). The thing is, your flaws come from somewhere... They're usually developed as a coping strategy of some kind for something you've been through. Everyone has flaws, but it's how you handle them that ultimately dictates the level of happiness & success you'll have. Average people make excuses for their flaws to cover them up or even worse- don't even acknowledge them and put the blame on external circumstances or other people. The longer you leave your flaws alone, the longer you'll remain average. We need to unpack these flaws & put some serious work into ourselves with the most kindness & self-love in order to stop being held back in life! 

I can trace all 5 of my flaws back to my past, starting from my childhood. It wasn't a happy time for me personally. I was the oldest of three, with two younger brothers. My parents married & started their family young- as was fairly common back then. I was constantly surrounded by chaos, control, anger, perfectionism, skepticism & stubbornness. I never really felt 'safe'. As a child, being in this environment was  brutal to say the least. I hated it so much. You know how kid's always say they can't wait to grow up? Well... I really couldn't. I was taught that those behaviors were acceptable & a 'normal' way of dealing with life. Eventually I decided to take control over my own life (see 'flaws' can also be used in a positive way too) and I ended up moving out on my own at the age of 16. Although that made for many challenges in and of itself, it gave me the freedom & responsibility to carve out my own path, on my own terms. 

Fast forward to today... I am working on those flaws every single day. I've done the therapy. I've dug deep. I've softened my flaws so they're less harsh & found much healthier coping strategies. I continuously find more useful & positive ways that I can use my flaws to actually help me rather than hurt me. If you ignore them, they'll always be there & they'll always negatively affect your life & the people you care about most. They don't just go away on their own. 

It's important to note- when tracing your flaws back to where they came from, do not harbor resentment towards that period in your life. It took me a long time to come to terms with this part, but I truly am so grateful for my childhood & family. As cliche as it sounds, it absolutely made me into the strong, independent & resilient woman I am today. There's no way I would have had the tenacity to get to where I am had it been ANY different. When you count your blessings, count your struggles twice.

Ok, so you've admitted to your flaws, figured out where they came from... Now what?

Flaws are most often referred to as negative behaviors, but what if you actually stopped using them in a negative way? Maybe then, they would be viewed a strength? See, your strengths are your strengths because you use them in a positive way. Really strengths & flaws are the same fundamental things, the only difference is that you use one in a positive way and one in a negative way. I believe flaws can be used in positive ways just the same as strengths can be used in negative ways.

Here's where you do the actual work. Be obsessed with changing yourself for the better. Research ways to deal with whatever your own 'flaws' are. Figure out how to use them in positive ways that will actually turn them into strengths. Example if my flaw is being controlling, meaning I need to feel in control because I didn't have any control as a child, I would use that 'flaw' to start my own business! That's a positive way to implement my need to be in control. I make sure not to let it go in a negative direction. I don't control everything inside my business. I let my employees have a substantial amount of freedom & I trust them all to do an amazing job. Their work speaks for itself. Knowing what situations need to be controlled & which ones don't is so essential. It's why my business has been so successful. I've learned to leverage every single flaw that has held me back in the past & use it in a positive way! I still have to catch myself every now & then but it gets easier the more you practice, I promise!

How do you learn to leverage your flaws?

Easy. You can learn anything you've ever wanted to learn by reading books or simply googling it. If you're really struggling, I would highly recommend therapy. It's a powerful technique. It's important during this part of the process to be mindful and honest with yourself when you notice your flaws coming out...And they will continue to come out. Be ready to intercept & call yourself out- even have a little fun with it- get silly & make fun names for your flaws! When you notice yourself being stubborn, you can strike a pose like the statue of liberty & be like "Not today Stubborn Susan!" I guarantee it will change your state of mind, mood & more importantly bring awareness to the flaw you're working hard to change. 

Have you ever had someone take their anger out on you for absolutely no apparent reason? People that do that are people who aren'tworking on themselves, they're not looking inward to identify their own flaws. They're projecting their own inner pain & weakness onto innocent unsuspecting people. Hurt people, hurt people. It's plain & simple. So next time someone's rude to you remember, they've got a lot of self development work to do & whether or not they do it is none of your business! Offer them your sincerest blessing & move on! 

Self awareness & development is the truest, most pure form of intelligence. The most successful people are the ones who are willing to be vulnerable and own up to their own flaws. They don't wait for other people to point them out, they don't make excuses for them and they certainly don't inflict them onto other people. They are humble enough to acknowledge them & strong enough to find an alternate, more positive approach.

Whatever point you're at in your life, start today! Work on this now. It is hands down the best thing I've ever done for myself & the people around me.  

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