What’s Holding You Back?

Is there something you really wanted to do, or something you really wanted to change, but didn’t? What’s that “thing” that’s been in the back of your mind that you’ve been thinking about lately? What’s holding you back? Perhaps it’s a business you want to start, or something you wanted to learn?  Perhaps a new language or ballroom dancing? Have you ever thought about why you haven’t done it?

Most of you know I wrote a book. But you may not know that I never planned on writing a book. A few years ago, my husband and I were hiking. I was thinking about the months leading up to the day we got together, and I told him that from my perspective, he didn’t do that much work. He said one prayer, told God he was ready to fall in love, and BAM. I walked in the door two days later, and John saw me differently. But on my end, I worked diligently on myself. I really worked on transforming my beliefs, I worked on creating self-worth, I worked on my home and my environment, and I worked on my relationships with my kids. I worked toward my goals, little by little each day. And I stopped and said, “I think these are strategies. I think they are replicable! Other people could follow the same strategies and attract real love!” and he said, “You’re right! You should write a book.”

So, I started. I just wrote for a few hours every Saturday after he went to work. Sometimes it was two hours; sometimes, it was 4 or 5 hours. Writing wasn’t that hard. I love writing. Everything is hunky dory peachy keen when I’m the only one reading it. Then once it got closer to being finished, I read it to John. Still, not that scary. I kept doubting, editing, changing, making more changes, and then I’d read it to John, and he’d say it was the best book on the planet. (he’s a tad biased…that’s why I hired him hahah). But what was scary? Emailing it to someone. Letting someone ELSE read it. Shit is getting real now.

What’s holding us back is usually fear.

Fear of what?

Fear of being judged. What if they think I’m stupid? What if they think I am trying to be a guru or someone I’m not? What if they think I’m not a good writer? What if what if what if….. I had all of those fears. I mean, my parents are going to read this book! 

Are you afraid? Are you afraid of what other people think? We all are to some degree. We all have insecurities. My first friend to read my book said, “Yeah, it’s…a….there are some really good nuggets in here.” That’s it? I spent two years and thousands of dollars writing this book, and that’s it? “Good nuggets?” Ouch. That was a little punch in my ego. I was hoping I would get massive praise. I didn’t. But, on the other hand, nobody died. It is what it is. One person’s opinion. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion and good nuggets are good! We’re not for everyone. So it’s not worth one ounce of energy trying to be! I kept moving forward. I published the book.

I think many of us are afraid that if we change, we will lose our relationships. Perhaps our current circle of friendships don’t want us to change. They want us to stay the same. I love the quote, “Your environment is stronger than your will power.” We’ve all been there, right? I hardly ever eat sugar (I prefer to drink my bad calories), but when I went to Utah for my mom’s 80th birthday and there were pans and pans of brownies everywhere, I had a few brownies for breakfast, brownies and ice cream after dinner, and more brownies and more ice cream the second night, with a side of rhubarb PIE! That’s what we do in my family! We eat! I can pass on dessert 364 days in the year, but five minutes around my family, and I’m eating every dessert in sight!

Now, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying homemade brownies when your sister makes them from scratch, it’s just to illustrate the point that our environment is stronger than our will power. This means that no matter how hard we try to change our behavior, no matter how much will power we have, if the people around you are negative, tempting, encouraging bad behavior, full of plates of brownies time and time again, we will fall off the wagon and get further away from our goals. Your friends love you the way you are, and they want you to stay the same. Change scares them. And if you want to create new habits and create change in your life, you may need to change your environment. It’s like the story about the crabs. If you boil crabs, you don’t need a lid because if one of them tries to climb out, the others will pull it back down. Horrifying really. There’s no way I could cook live animals! Ewwwwwwww. My mom cooked lobsters once. I still have PTSD from the screams. 40 years ago.

But I digress. When I recognized my fear of losing friendships was holding me back, I took a hard look at my environment. Who was in my inner circle? What were they talking about? Was it positive or negative? Do they support you in your changes? Do they support your dreams? Do their eyes glaze over when you talk about your dreams and goals? Can you even talk about them? Or do you keep them to yourself? Do you want to spend your time differently? Do they want to do the same shit they’ve been doing since 1995?

Change can be hard. But change is inevitable!  If we stay the same, we’ll never know what it would have been like to learn and grow and “do that thing” you’ve been thinking about doing. Sometimes it means leaving some friendships behind. It did for me. I lost friendships when my dreams and goals changed, my priorities changed, I started writing a book, and started my own business. I was (am) protective of my “free time” and careful how I spend it. I wanted to work on my book. I wanted to spend time with my husband and kids. I didn’t want to go to lunch and drink wine and talk for three hours. I wanted to stay home. I have friends I don’t talk to anymore. And guess what? Nobody died. Everyone is fine. We’ve all moved on. If I hadn’t moved on from some friendships, I wouldn’t have met new friends and created new amazing relationships with the women that I have now! And even though it hurts, those scars we get from that hurt remind us that sometimes pain is a requirement for growth. And learning is where the real change begins! If I had kept that fear and never published that book, I never would have been able to help women, which has been the greatest blessing of my life. The feeling you get from following your dreams far outweighs the sad feelings from a relationship whose season comes to a close. Some people are meant to be in our lives for just a season. We don’t always know how long the season will be, but moving forward in our own bravery helps others to be brave! Don’t you remember how good it felt to do something for the first time? Weren’t you so proud of yourself? Why would we want to stop doing things for the first time? Don’t we want more of that feeling?

Do you remember the first time you left the country and traveled somewhere over seas? My dad was stationed in Germany, but I was too little to remember any of it. So the first time I remember going to Europe was when I was 14 and part of a Youth Orchestra tour to Hungary, Poland, and Austria. My mind was blown. We went to Aushwitz Concentration Camp and I saw with my own eyes what happens when you have communism, dictatorship, greed, hate, and pure evil. I had never been that close to evil before. We went to the birth place of Mozart and played in music halls older than our entire country! To be fair, almost everything in Europe is older than our country. But think about the people who never get a passport. Who are afraid to fly. They will never see the Schönbrunn Palace in Austria and run around the miles and miles of hallways you’re probably not supposed to be running through! They’ll never have gelato in Italy or stand inside the Sistine Chapel and see the Creation with their own eyes! That to me is a travesty! I don’t love flying. I’m afraid to fly. I’m terrified that the plane will crash. But I have to do things I’m afraid of in order to experience new things, and those experiences changed me permanently. Like Dory says in Finding Nemo, “Well, you can‘t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him.”

Besides, this notion that we stay the same is false. We may think that if we stay inside our comfort zone, we stay the same. But has anyone ever gained a few pounds? When I got into a skiing accident and tore a ligament in my knee, do you think my weight stayed the same? Uh, no. Gained 10 pounds at first. I started swimming a bit, but it’s not an exercise that I love to do, so I didn’t do it enough. Since I couldn’t do the exercise that I wanted to do, I was feeling sorry for myself, and I stopped eating clean. Drank more wine. Gained another 5 pounds. We don’t stay the same. We’re either moving forward or backwards.

And what’s the only way to get less afraid? Have you ever stood on a cliff overlooking the ocean, watching all the people jump off in joy splashing around in the water, but felt terrified? What is the only way to feel less afraid? TO JUMP OFF! Feel the joy and butterflies! Those feelings we label as “nervous” and “excited” are actually the same! So reframe “fear” into “excitement” and jump! That’s the only way to be less afraid. If you just stand there and never jump, you’ll always be afraid. Instead of having fun. It’s the same with anything. With that “thing you really want to do”, that business you want to start, that book you want to write, that trip you want to take, even that partner you want to attract.

I had a million fears about relationship! All of mine had been a disaster! I was afraid of showing my true self to a man. I was afraid to trust a man. I was afraid to be naked without having a few drinks for liquid courage. I was afraid about how a partner of mine would be with my kids. Alas, there’s only one way to find out! But I knew in my heart that being a wife was meant to be for me. I knew in my heart that my dream was to experience true love and show my kids what a healthy relationship looked like. Mark Twain said, Courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s acting in spite of it. If a dream is in your heart then it was meant to be for you. Working through my fears is a process. One thing that helped was to come up with with a mantra. And I repeated it over and over and over again. A mantra is said to quiet the habitual fluctuations of our consciousness. So, what was mine?

“Thank you, God for sending me my soul mate.”

He WAS SENDING ME my soul mate, and he was on his way toward me, and that was the picture I held in my mind. That he

was on his way. It was past tense as if it had already happened (future tense gives the impression it will always be in the future). Repeating my mantra helped me change my thoughts, which helped me change myself, which helped me change my future. I worked on my soul mate list, envisioning the person I wanted to be with. I reexamined my relationships. If my girlfriends were always man-bashing, acting like victims, swirling around the in the pity party… I politely excused myself from those friendships. I surrounded myself with messages and people who were positive. Who would challenge me. Who would continuously set the bar higher.

And you know what, those fears and insecurities began to melt away. I actually believed I was good enough for healthy, forever love. I stopped being afraid and started living the live I imagined (Here are five habits that helped me improve my self worth). And you can too!

I write a lot about conquering limiting beliefs in my book “Becoming Mrs. Stanley, The Single Mom’s Guide to Creating the Life You Want.” It’s also available as an audiobook. And I’d love to connect and hear from you on my Instagram about the successes you’re having changing your beliefs to change your life!

Wishing you lots of love!



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