6 Signs You're Being Way Too Hard On Yourself (& It's Holding You Back)

Photo: Eugenio Marongiu / 
young woman with pink lipstick and brown eyes, white and pink hair, looks at camera smiling

"Get out of my way!" That’s me, talking to me, because I can be my own biggest obstacle. 

Possibly, it’s you talking to you because you might also be your own biggest obstacle. You're way too hard on yourself. 

Bottom line: we’re in this quagmire together.

RELATED: 108 Reflective Journaling Prompts To Help You Get Out Of Your Own Way

There are many ways we get in our own way: we indulge in unhealthy habits, fail to establish healthy habits, procrastinate, ignore uncomfortable circumstances, face life with resignation rather than joy.

We can live in a world of "Someday, I’ll take care of that" and accept the status quo, however unhappy we are with the status quo. We have things that we "should" do and beat ourselves up for not doing them.

There's a way out of the quicksand. It’s simple to start and life-long practice will continually build these skills.

6 signs it's time to get out of your own way. 

1. You hang onto moral judgments about yourself.

You’re not bad for doing (or not doing) what you’ve done (or haven’t done). What you may be is ineffective.

"Ineffective" isn’t "bad" — it’s just ineffective. And it’s much easier to become effective when you respect yourself. Start now.

2. You get stuck in the "should" cycle.

Get rid of "should" because "should" is a very judgmental word and creates barriers to action. Substitute the thought that certain things need to be done and you’re the one to handle them.

Instead of "I should empty the dishwasher," try "The dishwasher did its job and the dishes are clean. I can put them in the cabinet now."

You’ll get the same result without making yourself wrong in the process.

3. You focus too much on the "big picture".

Manage the "overwhelm" by breaking projects down into smaller, easily handled tasks.

After all, the roads of the Roman Empire weren’t built in a day: they were built one cobblestone at a time.

Your projects — and your life — are no different. Big projects consist of smaller components that can be handled one task at a time. Some of these smaller steps might be quite easy to accomplish.

Surprise yourself with accomplishments.

RELATED: 6 Signs Perfectionism Is Holding You Back — And How To Get Out Of Your Own Way

4. You fail to recognize your progress and growth.

Empower yourself with action — any forward-moving action.

Take baby steps. Tackle the easy stuff first.

Acknowledge yourself, in the moment, for getting into action.

5. You dismiss your accomplishments (or forget them altogether).

Congratulate yourself. Seriously. Write down your accomplishments on paper (or another, possibly an electronic device).

Remember that there's no "small" success — there's only success and the "small" successes are as meaningful as the "big" ones.

One tool to consider is a "Done List" (rather than a "To-Do List") that you can use to record your daily successes.

6. You expect change to happen overnight.

Remember that being effective is a way of life.

If it were possible to stumble into "being effective," you would have done so already. Expect that you won’t always be effective because nobody is always effective.

What's important is that you renew your commitment to your life, your projects, and your new way of tackling your life head-on.

So, when you're learning how to get out of your own way, forget the judgments.

You’re not "bad," "lazy," "incompetent," or any other negative adjective. "Should" is a club that can knock you senseless. Don’t use it on yourself (or others).

Small is feasible. Take baby steps and acknowledge them.

Do something — anything that propels you forward is an accomplishment. Take note of what you’ve accomplished. Be proud of yourself.

Don’t despair. Keep the faith. Record your accomplishments and continue to move forward, mastering every baby step along your journey.

RELATED: 11 Limiting Beliefs That Seriously Hold You Back In Life

Susan Kulakowski, MBA, MS, is a writer who has been actively pursuing personal and professional development since 2017. Her focus is making personal development courses available for minors and their families. Visit The Relationship Mastery Institute for insights and opportunities to improve your communication, relationships, and love.