Lately I’ve been spending some time contemplating the phrase “holding me back”. We’ve all used it at one time or another to describe the actions of another person or situation that wasn’t ideal, maybe even constrictive. When we should be looking at our own actions and/or choices, we’re instead using perhaps faulty coping skills as we place blame on what is the exterior. The question we should be asking ourselves as we stand in front of the mirror isn’t a diatribe on all the ways the person or situation wronged us, it’s whether or not we let ‘it’ stop us from doing whatever it is we want to do or whomever it is we want to be.
(This is not to include the abusive relationships where one partner controls and manipulates the other with various forms of threats and emotional punishment. That topic is for another day.)
I’m talking about the times we’ve (been) broken up with someone and said, “They were keeping me from being the person I should be.” Or used your family as a means to avoid signing up for that first 10k, or half marathon, or full marathon, or ultra. Or the reason you decided not to go back to school being the lack of support you think you’ll have. But no, that was us. Every time. We allowed that to be the excuse, the easy way out, instead of facing the admission they weren’t the right individual who should share our lives or we were afraid of what could happen on the other side of that decision (e.g. the possibility of losing him/her if we move to another nearby city). But the only way through is forward, right?
We get to choose to work it out or walk away. It really is that simple.
There are moments I’ve said my relationships haven’t worked out because they were holding me back from being who I am. Except when I think about it, they didn’t. I did. I held myself back. Everyday I made the choice to either be me or be the person I thought they wanted me to be. Everyday I decided whether or not my goals and dreams were important enough to pursue either inside or outside the partnership. I put myself second so of course that person did, too. I distinctly remember feeling stuck in place with a man who I’ll call B, and yet I made the very conscious decision to allow it to continue. I decided he was a pile of rocks tied to my feet and even said that to his face. Except he didn’t tie those rocks to my ankles, I did.
I stopped myself from hanging out with my friends. I stopped myself from applying for that job. I stopped myself from going to concerts. I stopped myself from reading books. I stopped myself from going on trips.
I stop myself from living the life I want to live.
The point is, these are excuses we give to those faces in the mirror for why we haven’t reached what we consider to be our full potential or where we had hoped to be in our life. It’s much easier to blame someone else than to admit to ourselves we allowed the rocks to be an option in the first place. Maybe we let them stop us because we were afraid of the success that might follow. Maybe we were afraid our important people wouldn’t love us anymore if we took our most desired path. We are humans who crave personal intimacy whether it be via friendships or romantic entanglements. We want people to like us; sometimes we allow their opinions and judgments too much authority over our decisions.
We are our own worst critic. We are who berate our mindful self worse than anyone else.
So next time we have the feeling someone or something is “holding us back”,
Take a moment to consider that maybe it is because of our personal fear, our baggage, not whatever/whomever is standing in front of us.
Move the curtain aside.