10 Telling Signs You're Standing In Your Own Way

"Stop standing in your own way. Stop sabotaging yourself. Decide which direction you are going in and take action."—Akiroq Brost


One of my favorite scenes from the (wow) 30-year-old rom-com When Harry Met Sally is when Sally's female BFF goes on and on about how her married lover isn't going to end his marriage. Every time Sally's friend Marie says, "I don't think he's ever going to leave her," and Sally replies with, "Of course he isn't," Marie immediately says, "You're right. I know you're right." And then stays anyway. For years. Fascinatingly enough, it wasn't until Marie let ole' boy go that she ended up with Harry's male BFF. It wasn't until she got out of her own way that what she truly desired manifested in her life—real love from a man who actually wanted to be her husband.

I've been there. Not when it comes to a married man (thank goodness!), but I've definitely remained in a relationship or situationship for way too long (see "What If You Love Someone You Can't Have?"). Hmph. Come to think of it, I've stayed on jobs, in "friendships" and even hung on to philosophies that, as Walt Whitman once put it, insults my own soul. And you know what? What I've come to recognize and accept is life is hard enough without my choosing to put up obstacles in my own life path. Life has enough turns, twists and plot twists that I don't need to be out here standing in my own way.

If that immediately garnered a deep and heartfelt "hallelujah" in your own spirit, but you're not quite sure if you're standing in your own way or not, here are 10 very telling signs that that is exactly what you are doing. The good news is there's no time like the present to…move.

1. You’re a Chronic Overthinker


If you put the word "overthinker" into your favorite search engine, you'll be hard-pressed to find any articles that say that it's a good thing to be. I actually read an article about it that had this title—"Are You an Overthinker? You've Been Poisoned". Personally, I think the biggest issues that come from overthinking is one, you end up creating dramas that don't even exist and two, you end up wasting a colossal amount of time in the process. Since when has being a drama queen (even if it's just in your own head) and not seizing the moments as they come ever worked (well) in anyone's favor?

Overthinking makes life so much harder than it ever has to be. That's why it tops my personal list of the main things that stands in our own way.

2. Self-Love Is Not a Daily Top Priority

There's a woman on YouTube who goes by the name Tonya TKO who calls herself a "self-love specialist". I like that term/title because I think it is something that all of us should aspire to be. And how can you know that you are not only loving yourself but loving yourself well? You pamper yourself. You know your purpose and you thrive in it. You trust yourself. You surround yourself with safe people (if you don't own Safe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren't, get it ASAP. You will not regret it!). Your looks are not more important to you than your character. You have no problem removing any person, place, thing or idea that does you harm. You are self-compassionate. You are also self-forgiving. You're humble. You're authentic. You like peace and tranquility. You know how to rest. You live in the moment. You know how to celebrate yourself and others. You are constantly on the quest to learn how to love yourself better.

A lot of people who aren't able to make real progress, whether it be their personal or professional life, oftentimes are stagnant because they may have the right amount of education and resources; however, because they don't truly and fully love themselves, they don't believe in themselves enough to be bold enough to make a real impact. It's a real shame too because self-love is what can help them to do just that.

3. You Spend More Time in Other Folks' Business Than Your Own


There's a verse in the Bible that says, "…that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you." (I Thessalonians 4:11—NKJV). For the record, "minding your own business" isn't just about limiting the gossip that you read, the advice (especially if it's unsolicited) that you give or taking social media breaks from time to time (because social media will have you out here thinking that you've got the right to be all up in everybody's business!). What I have learned, sometimes the hard way, is it's also about not being more invested in someone's life than they are; especially if it's at the expense of taking care of your own responsibilities, goals and priorities.

As a marriage life coach, there have been so many times when I've found myself being more concerned about the fate of someone's relationship than the couple themselves. It would wreck me with worry and sometimes even fear. Then I had to learn that I am the life "coach", not the actual "players". If a couple truly wanted to "win", they were gonna have to show up. Accepting that brought more peace and balance into my life. Yet, before I did that, I was letting all kinds of things slide in my own world; things that I actually was responsible for.

So yeah, it's a good thing to be kind, caring and involved—to a point. But if you're so focused on someone else's life—online or off—to the point where yours isn't being properly tended to, you are sho 'nuf standing in your own way.

4. Your Boundaries with Toxic People Aren’t Clear

Here's a truth that a lot of us don't want to hear, but if you're sick and tired of standing in your own way, it must be said. Some of us keep getting mistreated by others because we're allowing them to do it. And we're allowing it by not putting any boundaries into place.

It took most of my adult life to realize that boundary-violators couldn't care less about the hurt and harm that they cause. If they did, they wouldn't violate in the first place. And so, the only way to break the cycle is to set some limits and then to be firm and unapologetic about them. Shoot, I'll take it one step further. Not only set them but to provide consequences for when they are violated in the future.

If you don't do that, you'll be standing in your own way, simply because you'll be spending (or is it wasting?) time healing from the damage these kinds of folks have caused rather than thriving as an individual. It's so counterproductive to inflict self-harm by constantly involving yourself with toxic individuals. The empowering thing about what I just said is you have the power to totally change this. Today if you want to.

5. You ALWAYS Put Emotion Over Logic


I must say, off top, that if you read this and immediately got all in your feelings, you are just the one who should finish this point. That said, there is nothing wrong with being emotional. It's a part of what makes us human. At the same time, there is such a thing as being too emotional. What does that look and live like? You criticize yourself a lot. You're hyper-sensitive to any kind of critique or criticism. You have knee-jerk reactions to pretty much any and everything. You overact to stuff. You're consumed with what others think of you. You cry at the drop a hat (and don't even know why you are doing it). You speak before you think. You're super self-conscious. You take everything personally. I could go on, but I think you get the gist. People who are like this tend to drain themselves and others. They also tend to stay stuck in life because unless they "feel" that they should or shouldn't do something, they don't.

Meanwhile, when you operate from a place of logic, you tend to factor in how current choices will affect future outcomes. You don't negate facts just so that you can coddle your feelings. You're attentive to details. You typically get straight to the point. You're big on personal responsibility and accountability. While your feelings may alert you to something, you rely on logic to come to a resolve.

Feelings are a good thing. But logic is what keeps your feelings from causing you to stand in your own way. The balance of the two is always a good thing.

6. You’re Not a “Goal Upgrader”

I believe that there are two kinds of people in this life. There are the ones who want to be a small fish in a big pond and those who want to be a big fish in a little pond. What I mean by that is some people would rather stay right where they are and remain in their comfort zone by only excelling in one thing or area—which is a "big fish"—rather than take risks and travel, meet new people and try new things—they are "small fishes". Or, another way to see it as they are "goal upgraders".

I'm not saying that we should be out here trying to be a jack of all trades. What I am saying, though, is all of us are multi-dimensional. Achieving a goal is cool. Once you have, though, now what? People who are constantly interested in, not being popular but being progressive, who like success but hate stagnation, they are the ones who are constantly knocking down obstacles and making real marks in this world. Nothing can stand in their way, not even themselves, because they are too focused on the next thing to remain "stuck" in the last one. They don't care about being a "big fish" with limitations. Being a "smaller fish" in a pond of numerous possibilities is just fine with them. Achievement means more than ego—and that always takes someone far.

7. You’re Impulsive


Impulsive spending. Talking too much. Being a pop-off. Being indecisive. Regretting a lot of past decisions. Being cyclic when it comes to bad habits and behavior. Doing things in excess. Having a bad (or quick) temper. Constantly making appointments/commitments and breaking them (which isn't good). Starting and stopping things at the drop of a hat. Engaging in lots of casual sex. Jumpin to conclusions a lot. Having a hard time being still and/or alone. "F—ck it" basically being a life motto.

If you really reflect on each of these things, I'm pretty sure you need no explanation from me about how you're standing in your own way by doing any—or all—of them. Let's move on to the next point.

8. You’re Unteachable

I'll tell you what. Social media has brought new meaning to "feeding the monster". It's like, so long as you're telling people how fabulous they are, it's all good. But the moment you provide a different perspective or food for thought, you need to be banished from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. No wonder there are articles out here like "Social Media Photo Overkill May Boost Narcissism", "Love Facebook? You Might Be an (Adaptive) Narcissist and Not Know It" and "OPINION: The Rise in Narcissism Through Social Media Is Harming Society".

When you have a sense of self-importance and entitlement; when you think that you have the right to share your opinion and perspective but you also feel that others don't (unless they agree with you); when you can't go one day without posting something because you crave the attention; when you only acknowledge praise but don't even take a moment to ponder criticism or pearls of wisdom—this not only defines narcissism, it leans towards arrogance and arrogant people are pretty unteachable.

Unteachable people stand in their own way because if you're not willing to learn, if you think that you're the only one who has something to "teach", you can't grow. If you don't grow, well...

9. You’ve Got an Excuse for Everything


An author and former stockbroker by the name of Jordan Belfort once said, "The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bulls--t story you keep telling yourself as to why you can't achieve it." Yeah, buddy. If you're someone who knows that you'd be a billionaire if you were paid for every excuse that you made, a read that's at least worth skimming is "7 Things You Really Need to Know About Excuses".

As I was checking it out, I thought about how excuses are basically the love language of procrastinators. As long as you're telling yourself or others that you've got a good reason for doing or not doing something (that you know good and darn well that you should be doing or not doing), how can all real progress ever be made? Or, as the author of the article said in two of their points, "The more you make excuses, the easier it is to make even more excuses," and "You can get good at making excuses or you can get good at execution; you can't do both."

That to-do list that you've got close-by? What's it gonna be? Excuses or execution? One keeps you from getting things done. The other…doesn't.

10. You Rarely Leave the Past Where It Is

Mick Jagger once said something about the past that, for the most part, I agree with—"The past is a great place and I don't want to erase it or to regret it, but I don't want to be its prisoner either." As far as what he said about not regretting it, well, I have my own take on that word (you can read more about that here). But as far as the rest of his point? I think the past serves a purpose. If we're paying attention, it can show us what to do and what not to do. At the same time, as I'm currently still healing from some things in my own past, if you're not intentional about processing your past and also moving towards your present, certain things can keep you bitter, unforgiving and super stuck.

It would be a shame if, 20 years from now, you realized that the reason why you didn't make the most of that time wasn't because of anything other than you standing in your own way. So, what are you gonna do? Stand or…move? Please choose wisely.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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