In life, among the inevitable heartbreaks, disappointments, and the knock backs, there’s one very simple lesson you can learn that I promise will see you through almost anything: Get out of your own way.
We often think of all of life’s hurdles as obstacles that are placed there by something or someone else. And sure, sometimes another person will carelessly and haplessly leave a trail of chaos right in the middle of your perfectly planned path—an ex who threw you all their baggage as they ran off into the sunset, the dream job that regretfully couldn’t hire you at this time, the friends who disappeared right when you needed them. But deep down I think you understand that these are all things you will bounce back from. After all, it’s their mess, so you sure as hell aren’t going to clean it up for them! So you sidestep that hurdle as best you can, and although it might slow you down a little, you know that you can and will move on eventually.
But what about the other hurdles, the ones that are there by your own design. These are clever little hurdles, disguised and excused so well that you may never even notice they’re there until one day you’re forced to come to a complete stop while you stand around desperately looking for the person or event that’s to blame for your standstill. But you can’t see them. And this is the precise moment you are about to learn life’s biggest lesson: Sometimes you are your own biggest problem.
We’re so used to looking out for the obvious hurdles that we forget to be on guard for our own. And the hurdles we create will be a little different for everyone, but they all have one thing in common: They will keep on tripping you up, time after time, year after year, until you realize it’s your own shoelace that you need to stop and tie. You will never move forward to the great things you can do until you realize what you’re doing to yourself. So it’s time to be honest with yourself. How many times have you found yourself making excuses not to do the things that scare you? How many times have you obsessed over something that no one else can see? How many times have you walked away from something you know you should be walking toward? How many times have you criticized yourself before you’ve been kind? How much longer are you going to be your own worst enemy?
It’s mostly fear, and a whole lot of doubt, that makes us become our own roadblocks. And it’s only when you address exactly what it is you’re scared of that you can move past it. But don’t look for the answers in others. Your teachers, your friends, your partner: they can’t help you help yourself. They can be there for you. They can offer advice as to how to get there. But they can’t do it for you.
When I was learning to drive, I found it way harder than I expected. It took me two long years, two different instructors, hours stuck on one skill at a time and a failed test all before I achieved what I once thought was impossible for me. But why me? Why did I believe I was incapable of something that everyone around me did so easily? It was partially the fear of being responsible for my own vehicle and other people’s safety and a lot of doubt that I would ever be able to do it at all. And one day, it was my brilliant instructor that taught me life’s biggest lesson. She told me I was a good driver and it was purely confidence I lacked. I agreed. Then she said, “In the nicest way possible, your biggest problem is yourself.”
And it was true. Not just about my attitude to driving but the fact I was always too hard on myself, full of doubt and hesitation. I obsessed over things to the point of exhaustion in the name of being perfect. And I realized just how much I stood in my own way throughout life. I was putting up my own hurdles and wondering why I felt stuck. I was building roadblocks from my own fears and getting frustrated that I couldn’t move past them. I was unconsciously stopping myself being the best version of myself all by myself.
It’s not something you can see. And it’s not something you’ll learn overnight. But take this as a starting point to being more open to letting go. Let go of your doubt and fears, whatever they are for you and however deep you’ve buried them away. But above all else: Get out of your way.