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Last Updated on July 2, 2019

What Holds Us Back from Living the Life We Want

What Holds Us Back from Living the Life We Want

Parents, caregivers, teachers and society in general all have a huge influence on how we live our lives.

That’s why people traveling to other countries often experience ‘culture shock’. The different rules, different customs and different attitudes can quickly lead to a feeling of confusion and alienation.

You may have experienced this yourself.

But, culture shock really just shows how conditioned we are by our local customs and culture. This is something you may not have considered before. But, I would urge you to do so.

It’s possible that you’re living the life that your parents, teachers and society want you to live — rather than the life you’d love to live.

Ready to break free from this conditioning?

If you are, then you’ve come to the right place, as I’m going to share with you five strategies that will allow you to escape your mental prison.

Let’s look first at…

The Benefits of a Confident Attitude 

Generosity and a humble attitude are wonderful traits to have — yet, being humble can actually hinder you from reaching your goals.

If, when working in a team, you take on tasks behind the scenes, your work may go unnoticed. Which means you won’t actually get the credit you deserve.

It’s a sad fact of life, but if your efforts aren’t recognized, you’ll be forgotten about when opportunities arise.

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And, if you often play the role of “I’m not good enough to do XYZ” —  then please stop!

 Starting right now, if you change your attitude about your own abilities and focus on your strengths and improving on (or delegating out) your weaknesses, then you’ll massively boost your confidence, which will translate into achieving your goals.

So be sure to speak up about what you’ve accomplished. I guarantee your confident attitude will work wonders for you!

Say Goodbye to Limitations

Do you often go through life thinking you’re not smart enough or not disciplined enough? And, how about time? Do you frequently feel that you don’t have enough of it?

I certainly used to feel that way.

Fortunately, over the years, I’ve been able to discover and put into action dynamic techniques that have allowed me to break free from my limitations.

Positive self-talk is an example of one of these techniques. This is a simple, but powerful, tool for stepping outside of your conditioned and habitual thought patterns.

What exactly is self-talk?

It’s the words you externally and internally tell yourself day in, day out.

“I’m not good enough to do this,” you might tell yourself over and over again. Well, guess what? With that attitude permeating your mindset — you probably won’t be good enough.

But, just as negative thoughts can lead to negative results, positive thoughts can lead to positive results. Using the example above, change the wording to “I’m good enough to do this,” and watch your positive self-talk boost your confidence and give you the strength and courage to say goodbye to your limitations.

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You might also want to practice tried-and-tested ways of elevating your self-belief. Stuff like: always finding time to learn new things, focused goal setting and effective time management.

Do You Fear Change?

You’d love to make that big career change, but you’re afraid that it’ll end in failure.

You’d love to ask out that special person on a date, but you fear they’ll say no.

You’d love to move to the coast, but you’re scared to leave behind your habitual environment.

Sound familiar?

I’m guessing it does, as fear of change is probably the most common thing that prevents people from reaching their potential and doing the things they’d love to do.

The secret to defeating fear of change is to understand that if we want to change our lives for the better — we need to make changes in our lives. Without changes, nothing changes. It’s that simple.

In reality, fear of change is really just fear of the unknown. Now, I realize the unknown can be a scary place. But, it doesn’t have to be.

Again, it comes down to our attitude and perspective. If we approach the unknown with excited anticipation — we’ll no longer be afraid of it. And, its power over us will be gone forever.

With that simple change of mindset, you can put your fears in the past, and start living a life that embraces and welcomes change and opportunity; an authentic and free life.

Paint a Picture in Your Mind

Did you know that the majority of us think in pictures? That’s right. While we may speak and write in words, our brain turns these things into pictures.

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Just think back to some of your most important memories (perhaps your first kiss, your graduation day, or the birth of your first child). Do words and sentences come to mind? Likely not. Instead, you may immediately bring back vivid images of the events. And, not just still images, but moving pictures that are equivalent to videos.

Once you understand that the mind functions with pictures, then the key to changing your mind — and your life — is to change the pictures that you put into your mind about the future.

For instance, if you constantly picture yourself stuck in the same job, then… you’ll probably end up doing just that! But, if you make a concerted and persistent effort to picture yourself in a new, stimulating role — then that’s where you’re most likely to end up.

You may know this technique as ‘visualization’. And, along with the other techniques I’m sharing with you in this article, it’s a powerful piece of the success puzzle.

So start right now by building a clear, definite picture of where you’d like to be in 12 months. Once you have the picture, then use daily repetition to place it firmly into your subconscious mind (expect this to take at least 30 days).

Do this, and watch your mental images gradually turn into reality. I like to call this real magic.

Your Setbacks and Obstacles Can Be Opportunities

Pause for a moment, and think about the last few days. I guarantee that along with the good stuff, there’ll be several times when you’ve had to face setbacks and obstacles. Things like: being stuck in traffic, a missed deadline at work, a health challenge, a relationship issue, and an unexpected bill landing in your letterbox.

This is perfectly normal. We all go through similar things to these on a regular basis. But, the difference between winners and losers in life, is that losers are defeated by these setbacks, while winners are propelled forward by them.

Let me explain with a quick example.

You’re on your way to an interview for an important job–a job you’ve always wanted. You allow plenty of time for walking to the train station, taking the train three stops, and then catching a cab to the office where the interview is scheduled to take place.

Your walk goes fine, but when you get to the station, you discover something shocking — all the trains have been canceled!

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You could choose to panic at this time, and perhaps call the company to cancel or delay the interview. Or you could think creatively…

The job is what you’ve always wanted to do, so you don’t want to miss the interview or allow the company to see you in a negative light. You think for a few moments and then decide upon a strategy — you’ll pay the hefty fare for a cab to take you all the way.

The taxi driver is chatty, and he asks you what’s the purpose of your visit. You tell him about your interview and he replies with something surprising: he’s a friend of one of the people who will be interviewing you. He goes on to talk about how nice they are and how you’ll get on really well with them. In fact, he puts you so at ease that you begin to feel like you’re already part of the team!

You arrive early for the interview, and with the unexpected but welcome support from your taxi driver friend, the interview goes super-smoothly. And, a few days later you’re thrilled to receive a call asking when you can start.

Did the taxi driver put in a good word for you? Perhaps. As that’s the sort of thing that happens when you refuse to bow down to setbacks and obstacles.

I hope the self-improvement techniques I’ve outlined in this article will help you to begin breaking free from your limitations — and to begin breaking out of your mental prison!

Build your confidence.

Embrace change.

And, picture your success in all its glorious detail.

Take these steps now, and begin living the life you’ve always dreamed of.

Featured photo credit: Brendan Church via unsplash.com

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on May 28, 2020

How to Survive a Quarter Life Crisis (The Complete Guide)

How to Survive a Quarter Life Crisis (The Complete Guide)

Is there such a thing as a quarter life crisis and could it be the cause of you experiencing a lack of happiness and fulfilment in your life or career right now?

According to popular psychology, a quarter life crisis is a crisis “involving anxiety over the direction and quality of one’s life” which is most commonly experienced in a period ranging from a person’s twenties up to their mid-thirties.[1] It tends to occur after we have finished our schooling and study, when we have settled into everyday life, often at major points or life changing events when we feel we are at a crossroads. We know something must change but we don’t know what or how to begin. It can feel confusing and lonely.

The good news is this is quite a normal experience. With some insight and small steps, you can gain clarity and direction on a way forward.

Firstly, it’s important to realize you are not alone. LinkedIn surveyed thousands of 25 to 33 years olds; the data showed that 75% had experienced a quarter life crisis with the average age being 27.[2]

Our twenties and thirties are nothing like they used to be. There are so many pressures now for people in this age group including having a well-qualified career, a secure relationship and possibly a family. The prospect of owning a home of your own becomes important, yet each year seems to be getting further out of reach, putting further pressure on your income earning capacity and career choice.

Personally, I have experienced both a quarter life crisis and a mid life one and there are similarities between both. Change was instigated for me both times by a difficult life-changing event, because I didn’t understand what I was experiencing or how to change it. Hindsight is a great thing and I sometimes wish I’d had the insights back then that I have now.

When you become aware of what you are experiencing and acknowledge your feelings as perfectly normal, change and transformation flows with more ease as you begin to take the steps to find new direction, happiness and fulfilment.

Here you will find what I consider to be the complete guide. It contains the essential steps I have identified to get clear on your way forward and move through this period of your life with more certainty.

1. Stop Comparing Your Own Quarter Life Crisis to Your Friend’s

Comparing yourself with your friends and peers, noticing their life choices and achievements can lead you to feel inferior and this increases those feelings of pressure and anxiety. You only have to jump online for five minutes and scroll through your newsfeed to see images of couples with children, career and life announcements and they all seem much more satisfied than you.

The truth is that often what you see is not real and they could be experiencing their own crisis too behind the facade. This means you could be comparing yourself with something that doesn’t even exist. What is the point in that?

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If you want to make this easier for yourself, stop accessing social media platforms. You can remove apps from your phone so you have to physically log in. If you need to access certain platforms for work or business, stay away from your newsfeed, even unfollow connections until you have worked through this period of your life.

When you stop comparing, you will notice that the pressure decreases and you will feel more comfort in your current situation. This allows change to unfold at its own pace.

2. Let Go of All the Should’s

If you hear yourself say, “I should be” or “I have to”, you are attempting to live your life by other people’s standards. And now you are aware of this, you will be amazed at how often you use this language.

The thing is, trying to live to others’ standards will never bring you true happiness or fulfilment. Even the use of this language brings a feeling of self-judgement and stress without even taking the actions associated with it. And over time, continually living this way, you will start to feel like your life isn’t your own; and you will lead yourself deeper into crisis as your self-esteem suffers.

If you hear yourself using this language, stop in your tracks. Explore where the thought actually came from and who said you should be doing things that way. Let go of the need to judge yourself according to someone else’s standards and start to think about what you really want instead.

When you let go of all the “I should’s” and start to replace them with your “I wants,” you will notice the feeling of lightness as your self-esteems rises again.

3. Get Clear on What Is Important to You

As you begin to let go of what you thought should be important, you create space to get clear on what is important to you.

Most of the time, like the majority of people, you are living your life unconsciously and unaware of what is really important to you. This means you will find it difficult to make choices that will light you up from the inside.

Dr John Demartini, a long time educator and international expert in human behavior states in his book The Values Factor, that true motivation is inspiration and is present when we are fulfilling our values. And, when we are living according to our truest and most important values is when we are our most fulfilled.

This means it’s important to get ultra clear on your most important values. You can do this simply by looking at what you put most of your time and energy into currently, and the moments in your life when you have felt your most fulfilled. Those moments may have been at any point in your life and may even mean going right back to memories of childhood.

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As you get clearer on what is important to you, you will gain even more clarity on what you truly want for you.

4. Change Your Environment

Feeling stuck can often be exacerbated when we stay in the same place, because our environment can have a huge impact on our state of mind. And, when you are in a stuck state of mind, it can be difficult to see past what you have in your life right now.

This doesn’t mean you need to sell all your belongings and go to live in an ashram for a year, although this may be the thing that feels right for you, and if it is that is okay.

You can gain the same benefits by going on a holiday, going away for a long weekend or even just going for a few day trips into nature, the forest or the beach where you can feel a real connection with self.

When you change your environment, you can change your state and your mindset. You shift yourself out of focusing on feeling dissatisfied with your life right now and shift yourself into thinking about how your life could be.

5. Enter the Dream Room and Ask Yourself “What If?”

There have been many great stories created in The Dream Room.

Walt Disney has been named one of the most remarkably creative, and as you may know one of the most successful individuals of the 20th century. The methods he used for all his creations are still being used today. Each of his creations began in the place called The Dream Room, the place where anything is possible; where there is nothing too absurd, there are no limits and no judgement. This was a place for brainstorming or dream storming as it was called.[3]

I always like to call it the “What if” room, which is a place where you ask yourself the “What if?” questions. This is the place where you can create your own outrageous wish list of what you really want. It doesn’t have to be a physical room; it’s a room you go to in your mind’s eye. This dream space is expansive and the expansion can be increased when you also change your physical environment by going to a place outdoors where you can see the horizon.

Find your space, arm yourself with a journal and pen, and ask yourself these questions:

  • What if anything were possible, what would I do and what would I create for my life?
  • What if life was exactly as I wanted it to be, what would that look like and how would I feel experiencing that?
  • What if I were without fear, what would I aim for?
  • What if I couldn’t possibly fail, how can I see myself doing this?

Dream as you did when you were a child, when you knew without a doubt that anything is possible.

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When you embrace this and allow yourself to dream, you will begin to create the most exciting picture of your next chapter in life.

6. Be Patient and Let Go of Control

Human beings waste so much time trying to control how their lives evolve and if you attempt to rush this dream process, you will find it difficult to gain the clarity you are looking for.

Learn patience, remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day and you are creating your own private empire of what you want for you.

This means that your dream room vision may be created in one day, two weeks or even a year. However long it takes, make it okay for you.

Many of the answers you are searching for are locked in your unconscious mind, things you have forgotten over time while you have possibly been focusing on living the way you thought you should live.

As you start asking the right questions, your answers will begin to come little by little and, will often come when you least expect them.

Carry a small notebook with you or voice record on an app on your phone. Even keep a notebook by your bed for when you first wake up in the morning.

7. Ditch Your Perception of Life Always Being Perfect

Even if we create an exciting vision, we can often get in our own way by our fear of things not working out perfectly.

We see failure before we have even started and hesitate on something that powerfully lights us up on the inside because it’s not the perfect time. Before we know it, years have passed and we are still in the same place. This can cause an even bigger crisis in later years.

Life is always happening perfectly for us; the problem is our perception of perfection is imperfect.

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Over the years, we have made perfection mean everything it really doesn’t. As a society, we have chosen to see perfection as things always lining up perfectly, no mistakes, a flawlessness, always getting the right result and the outcomes we want.

Here’s the thing: the opposite of this is absolutely true.

Life happens perfectly for you all the time. This means all the mistakes you make, all the outcomes you don’t want and not getting things right first time, is absolutely perfect for you at the time. As you make these mistakes, the lessons and growth you receive are vital to you living the life you truly want in the long term.

If at any point, you feel your need for perfection is possibly holding you back, comfort yourself with knowing that whatever the outcome, it’s happening perfectly. You will be exactly where you are meant to be to enable you to eventually live the life of your dreams

8. Make a Stand for You

Often when we make a decision on our future, we can find those closest to us object to our plans, because they want what is best for us; they want us to be happy.

The thing is what they think will make us happy isn’t necessarily what will really make us happy, because their dreams and values are different to ours. This can often make us apprehensive and delay actioning our plans since we don’t want to disappoint them.

This brings to mind something an amazing mentor once said to me, he said, “dogs only bark at what they don’t understand”. To me, this means that if a dog barks, they are not quite sure what is happening and in that uncertainty, they sense danger.

Your loved ones are exactly the same. They don’t understand where you are heading because it’s possibly something they are not familiar with themselves. Or maybe it reminds them of past experiences of their own where things didn’t quite work out the way they wanted them to. They won’t be disappointed in you when you make a stand for what you want. They just love you and want to protect you.

Proudly make a stand for you and your dream. Reassure them that you love them and you will be okay with whatever happens, because life is always happening for you and you are grateful for their support in the life you are choosing.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, no one else’s life, desires or dreams can bring you happiness and fulfilment; only what is important to you and what you really want can do that.

By being patient and kind with yourself as you move through what can be your most exciting life-changing period, you will feel this crisis point end and find clarity on exactly what will light up your life.

More About Life Crisis

Featured photo credit: ZACHARY STAINES via unsplash.com

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