Why you’re stuck and nothing is working

So you’ve made up your mind to eliminate a bad habit. Or build a good one. To change something about your life. Make it better.

You want to lose weight and feel good in your skin again.

You want to get organized and stop procrastinating.

You want to make your business more successful.

You want to wake up early and be productive.

You want to cultivate the habit of mindfulness and become more zen.

You’ve gone out, done your research, and immersed yourself in books, websites, and “friendly advice”. You’ve tried a dozen different diets, snoozed a million times, taken more business courses than your wallet can afford, and only become more frustrated in the process.

No matter what you try, nothing seems to change. You’re stuck, and you’re ready to throw yourself on the floor and stomp and cry like a toddler because nothing. is. working, dammit!

I’ve been there.

10-16-13 stuckIt took me a year to lose 20 lbs despite crazy restraint.

In many ways, I’m still a disorganized mess (but now there’s a method to my madness – and acceptance of who I am and how this is contributing to my life).

After many years of working at it, I’m finally a better listener than talker.

Change isn’t easy.

It’s hard. And anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to your face.

You are the way you are because, on some level, it works for you.

The status quo is never unstable. The bad habits you’re so desperately trying to eliminate from your life are part of a stable equilibrium. They are there because, at this point, they help you and sustain you.

You gossip because your own shame weighs too heavily – and shaming others makes you feel like less of an underdog.

You hide behind the pounds to stay under the radar. If you were at your ideal weight, you’d have to face the (much scarier) possibility that you are unlovable – and not just because of your weight.

You keep yourself unsuccessful because you don’t really believe you are worth anything If you put yourself out there more, you’re afraid you would get rejected by the same people you desperately want to help.

You procrastinate because it’s easier to fail and blame it on your poor sense of organization (and lack of work and preparation) than it is to fail when you have given it your best.

Of course, when brought to your awareness all of these excuses sound ridiculous. But your ego doesn’t see them that way. Your ego is using fear to protect you from the possibility of getting more hurt.

Because changing a bad habit for a good one means taking responsibility for your life. And that is always risky.

But without risk there is no benefit.

Without taking responsibility for your life – without throwing yourself into life head first, with your best foot forward – you will never know how great you really are.

So here’s what you need to do:

1. Find out what’s holding you back

Ask yourself, “how is this serving me?”

“How is this helping me stay safe?”

“What would happen if I changed? What am I afraid of?”

Bringing the self-defeating mechanism into awareness allows you to see how ridiculous is really is, and how much it is holding you back. It also allows you to really see how much you are holding yourself back – and puts the real choice in your hands.

2. Start small

When you finally discover how you are holding yourself back, it’s tempting to want to jump ship cold turkey. Don’t.

The reason this often doesn’t work isn’t because you’re making a big change all at once, but because you’re making a big change and expecting yourself to follow through with it.

But the bigger the change, and the faster the attempt to change, the more your ego will resist. So when you fail at working out an hour every day after you haven’t worked out in months, you will be disappointed. You will want to quit.

By not starting small, you have set your stakes so high that you have sabotaged yourself out of success.

That’s exactly what your ego wants you to do.

Resistance, in any form, is simply your ego trying to get you to stay where you are – and be safe. You have to push through that.

But don’t avoid it.

You have to follow your resistance. It’s showing you exactly where you need change the most. Where it will make the biggest difference in your life.

Take small steps. Celebrate every bit of progress along the way. Focus on taking it one day at a time.

If today was better than yesterday, then you’ve had a good day – and you can be proud of yourself. You will get there.

If you focus on the destination, you will be miserable. Focus on the journey instead, celebrating every milestone along the way, and you will get there before you know it.

Just know that bad habits are the opposite of self-love. Emotional eating, abusive relationships, negative friends, self-defeating beliefs, chronic procrastination, bad business practices (because you don’t think you’re really worth more)… all of these are preventing your true light from shining out. They are preventing you from being the amazing person you have the potential to be… the wonderful being you truly are.

Choose to love yourself. Choose to take responsibility and question your ego.

It won’t be easy. But it will be worth it.

Thoughts? Reactions? Share your experience!

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  1. Hi Laura,

    I especially like the “Start Small” part. Big changes are indeed difficult to adapt to and a gradual approach works much better than the “cold turkey”.

    I would add one more thing to your list. I think that in order to make real changes, we also need to become really pissed off with our current situation. This gives us a lot of energy, drive and an urge to make things happen.
    In my own experience, real change only took place when I stopped tolerating what was going on, and made a vow never to have it again. That’s what made things click. Up until that point I’ve struggled, but after that moment everything became easy.

    Thanks for another great article! 🙂

    • Thank you, Daisa! Indeed, “having had enough” is so important. It’s a way for us to show that we honor and respect ourselves too much to allow the current state of things to continue. In more woo-woo terms, it’s almost like we’re raising our own vibration. Once we’ve made the decision that we will no longer settle for the status quo, it’s as if we’re giving ourselves permission to step forward and claim our future. Thank you for adding that!

  2. Hi Laura
    This has come at the right time for me. I am not being decisive and think that trying to figure out what I want to do keeps me in the comfort zone. I seem to enjoy exploring all the different sites and feel that I will get my eureka moment and everything will work out. Taking action is the key. It propels you forward and by taking small steps you move forward.
    As you say that I have to take responsibility for my life and find out the greatness within each one of us.
    I could not put it any better ‘choose to honour your greatness’ as you say in your final comment.
    I look forward to your next post.
    Thank you

    • Raj, it’s so easy to fall into that trap of being comfortable and waiting for the right moment. The truth is, the right moment will never come under comfort. The only way to know your true path is to follow your fear and resistance. Thank you, and good luck to you!

  3. Hi Laura, I can so relate to this! I’ve been working out really diligently since June and it’s been interesting to watch the excuses I’ve come up with lately. At first, I made the time, I noticed I had more energy, all was well. But in the last few weeks, it’s been a real struggle for no reason. Reading this, I realized that it’s just some resistance kicking in, that as things *finally* start to change around me, it gets harder to do the things that are causing the change. I’ll spend some time today thinking about what might be holding me back, because I think something new may have popped to the surface. Thanks for this!

  4. Beautifully described, Laura. I’m so glad I found the resources you offer. I’ll be sharing this on my page Healing ~ Journey to Wholeness.

  5. Laura, I love this! I really like that you outline all the excuses people tell themselves…that ego is tricky! I love this, “You gossip because your own shame weighs too heavily – and shaming others makes you feel like less of an underdog.” Very powerful post, I am sharing! 🙂

  6. BEAUTIFUL! mindfulness and starting with small changes are super powers – great article and I am so tickled to have found you via Fab & Fearless!

  7. Ask yourself, “how is this serving me?”
    “How is this helping me stay safe?”
    “What would happen if I changed? What am I afraid of?”
    Bringing the self-defeating mechanism into awareness allows you to see how ridiculous is really is.

    I LOVE these questions to get you thinking. They really get me thinking. Often in fact. I use a similarly worded set to get me thinking often but what I really loved was how you said that the awareness that comes from here put the REAL choice in my hands. That it does for sure but those words made me pause in my reading and take a moment to think. So true. LOVE the way that made me feel.

  8. Laura, your blog is beautifully cozy. I’m grateful I found you on #FabAndFearless!
    I’m in that delicious space where I’m learning about how I have set up my life so I rarely have to take accountability for anything I’ve created. I’ve been quite smart about devising this system and I am so grateful I discovered its existence. NOW I get to transform it! Thanks for your post. I really appreciated the reminder, “bad habits are the opposite of self-love.” POW!

  9. Starting small is my BIGGEST problem! I always just dive in! Thank you so much for this reminder!! <3 Mimi

  10. There do seem to be an endless array of rationalizations, exscuses, fears, and obstacles! (I recognize a lot of them.) Starting small is always the best advice. Thanks for reminding us of all this.

  11. Beautifully done. “How is this serving me?” is a big one. It makes us responsible while also making us powerful.

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