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-comWhen 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:

What It Means To Find True Self-Love

How To Handle "Purpose Fatigue"

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Feature image by Nappy

When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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