This is the first post of two that aim to look at what gets in the way of us living the happy and successful lives that we dream and long for. If you already have a life that is abundant, filled with happiness, love and success, congratulations, you can skip this post!

If not and you can’t work out why then read on, because in this post I am going to share with you what I believe to be the key things that have got in the way of my happiness and success over the years and in the next post to come I’ll be sharing how I’ve learnt, or am learning to, overcome these.

We all want to be happy and successful right? Yet so many people are living lives that are unhappy and unsuccessful or at best successful, but by someone else’s standards, rather than their own. In my own personal journey, I discovered the notion of having a long hard look at what gets in the way of the things that I want more of in my life.

The first time I heard this idea was from Brené Brown who, when talking about the subject of wholehearted living, wrote the following: “We can talk about courage and love and compassion until we sound like a greeting card store, but unless we’re willing to have an honest conversation about what gets in the way of putting these into practice in our daily lives, we will never change. Never, ever.”

Her words resonated with me, so much so that now whenever I find myself in a position where the things I want to achieve in my life don’t seem to be coming my way, I stop and consider what it is that might be getting in the way. What I’ve found is that always and without fail, the primary thing standing between me and my dreams is … yes you guessed it, me.

By that, I mean something that I am doing (or not doing), thinking, ignoring or believing that is preventing me from the love, happiness and success that I, and each of us, truly deserve. It is never things like not having enough money, not being slim, smart or good-looking enough or being too old, yet these are the excuses I most often hear from people for not having what they want in life. Once I understood that it is me and only me that stands between me and my dreams, I then started to understand more clearly just how this shows up in my life.

Limiting self-beliefs

This one is a biggie. So many of us tell ourselves on a daily basis that we are not good enough, not capable enough and not worthy enough to achieve our greatest desires. Not only that but when we prove ourselves right on these fronts we’re most likely to clobber ourselves with even more negative self-talk. We’ve all heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy right? Well that’s exactly what we are dealing with when we tell ourselves negative things about ourselves.

How this has shown up for me recently has been to tell myself that I’m just not that sociable a person, which I’ve used as an excuse for my feelings of loneliness. When I caught myself repeatedly saying no to social invitations, I suddenly realised what I’d been doing. By telling myself that I am an introvert with a preference for solitude, at the same time as complaining about feeling lonely, I had been preventing myself from living the happy and sociable life I’m capable of living.

The duvet of denial

Denial is a coping mechanism. We go into denial when the pain of the truth seems like too much to bear. For me what has helped me navigate through the murky waters of denial is my focus on my personal growth. Many of the books I read are designed to point out to us the truths that we’ve been hiding from for much of our lives or the excuses we use to stay in the cosy confines of our denial.

There is no denying it, denial is comfortable and in the short-term might seem like the quick win, far easier than dealing with the painful truth, but if there is one thing I’ve learnt about denial, it’s that the longer we spend in it, the more likely life is to throw us a curveball to wake us up.

Denial is not a place we can stay forever, but it is a place we can consistently slide back into if we don’t make efforts to open our eyes to the tricks we play on ourselves. The lies we tell ourselves (and others) are those excuses we make that keep us in a place of non action. We might tell ourselves we don’t really care about writing that novel anymore, “it was a dream when I was younger, but I have more important things to worry about now”. We might even be beyond denying our dreams and rather we fill our heads with more grown up things like worry, obligations and stress instead.

The ego emerges 

The ego is a current bugbear of mine. Always rearing his head whenever he finds himself under threat. What threatens the ego you might ask? Love, compassion, courage, living up to your full potential, to name but a few. Some classic signs that your ego is in the driving seat rather than your heart is when we feel too proud to pick up the phone, too stubborn to say “I’m sorry”, too defensive to hear the other person’s point of view.

Have you ever noticed how when you get into an argument with a loved one, often it can feel almost impossible to recognise the person you love standing before you? Then before we know it our ego steps in and starts saying things and acting in ways that they don’t recognise either. The ego has a lot to answer for when it comes to sabotaging love and relationships.

Playing the victim

This is a space I’ve inhabited a lot over the years. When I was younger, I believed that having a less than perfect childhood, allowed me to abdicate responsibility for my own life, blaming my problems on things that had happened in my childhood, rather than accepting responsibility for my own behaviour and actions. But, as you might have already guessed, playing the victim doesn’t make life any easier, the victim simply courts sympathy and wants people to let her off the hook for under performing, after all she cries, “woe is me, I’ve had a hard life.”

Tell-tell signs for playing the victim include manipulating people to make them feel bad, exaggerating hardships to court more sympathy, believing that bad things happen to you rather than because of your own actions and behaviour. Obviously sometimes bad things just happen, people die, illness strikes but a victim will see these events as reasons to give up rather than life lessons to be understood and worked through.

My good friend, Fear

What underpins all of these for me is fear. Fear of failure as well as fear of success keep us right where we are instead of allowing us to move forward. Our limiting self-beliefs feed our fears of not being good enough, our denial helps us mask our fear and avoid feeling afraid. Our ego operates from a place of fear and playing the victim means we don’t have to face up to our fears of taking responsibility for our own lives and our own happiness and success.

Perhaps you recognise some of these things operating in your own life, you might even already be dealing with overcoming some or all of them. In my next post, I’m going to share the tips and techniques I’ve been using or are planning to start using to overcome some of these things and move closer to living a life that has no limit on the amount of happiness, love and success it contains.

If you think I’ve missed any of the things that get in the way of achieving your dreams, please let me know, I would love to hear from you and if you like this post please do share it by hitting one of the buttons below. Thank you!