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8 Self-Defeating Obstacles Holding You Back

Today I did a thing.

A thing that began 91,254 words ago. 285 pages ago. 2,007 days of starting and stopping, wrestling with fear and doubt, of distractions that pulled me into choosing what was “good” at the sacrifice of what was “best”…today I finished writing the story of all that has happened so far in the story of me. Today, I finished writing my book.

I share this, not for accolades or Atta girls.

Today I am sharing because there is a one particular lesson I have learned that might be valuable to you in the story you are writing in this world. I realize you might not be writing it in a book. But perhaps what you do not realize, is that you are, in fact, writing your story.

While the work of writing my story, in the hopes of helping others, has been going on for quite some time, the work of learning how to live it effectively has been going on for much longer. (PS? I am still learning.)

Along my journey, the message that has come up, time and time again, is this…

If you let it, your brokenness will lead you into unchartered waters of authenticity and grace. It is the thing that helps you see another’s brokenness without recoiling from the darkness or the mess. It will be the thing that allows you to say, “Yeah, I get it. I see you. And you are worth knowing and worth loving.”

But you cannot offer this much needed gift to the world if you are unwilling to work through your own story. Sometimes that means working through the story of those who have gone before you as well. Because often, the patterns that need to be exposed and addressed are generations deep.

There is freedom that comes with breaking patterns that have caused us harm and perhaps, to those we love as well. The work is hard and a lot will try to get in your way.

So, maybe we should talk about that.

Here is what will try to stop you:

Shame: The mother of all isolation. Whether we can name it or not, shame is the number one reason we hide. We believe that if other people really knew us, they would never be able to love us. If we can’t be known, we can’t be healed. But, shame is a liar.

The belief that you are too broken: Sometimes we think it’s because of what we have done, and other times, because of what has been done to us. But regardless of the source of our brokenness, it is easy to fall into the trap of believing that we are irrevocably broken. “I’ve been this way for too long” or  “I’ve been through too much”, etc. This is simply not true. Remember, there is an enemy of your soul and every voice you hear that sounds like these are straight from the enemy.

Denial: I am all for letting go of things and not rehearsing what will only serve to re-harm us. However, when we are stuck in patterns of unhelpful and unhealthy behaviors and beliefs, maybe what we are calling “letting go” has really just been denial. We may need to go back. Go Through. Then let go for real.

Caring what others will think: This can be one of our most challenging hurdles to overcome. Getting honest and healthy might mean that we need to push against some family norms and upset the homeostasis. Complacency is often rooted in the function we find inside of our dysfunction. This journey might require you to get comfortable with how uncomfortable your growth makes everyone else.

Self-medicating: You might be thinking, “I’m good here. I don’t use substances or food to distract myself. So, ‘self-medicating’ isn’t an issue for me.” And you might be right. But let me ask you, do you ever spend more than you should, or become obsessed with work or working out, or seek approval from others to make yourself feel better? Do you get overly involved in “good” things to distract yourself from working on building a healthier life? Do ever focus on other people’s problems to the exclusion of your own? If any of these ring true, then self-medicating might be a bigger problem than you thought.

Toxic relationships: When one person in a relationship gets healthy and pursues growth, it changes the dynamics of the whole relationship. This inevitably requires the other person to change as well. Your quest for something different and healthier, can feel like a threat to those not ready for change. This causes all sorts of bad behavior from a toxic person in an attempt to get you to stay the same. Don’t fall for it.

Trying to go it alone: Most of the wounds we experience in our lives occur within the context of relationships. It then, makes the most sense, that our healing with happen within the context of relationship as well. You are not designed to go it alone. Today (as in right now) find at least one person you can trust with whom you can share your struggles.

Pain shared is pain divided.

Voices from the past: There can be any number of messages that play over and over in our head from our past that try to prevent us from changing. Some will tell us we aren’t worth it. Some will tell us we will just screw up again. Others might remind us of abuse we have suffered and convince us that it is too painful to work through what happened. Those voices are liars. Will it be painful to change, to heal, to grow? Absolutely. But that is pain with purpose pain and healing on the other side.

All these forces that try to stop you; they are very real and often, very covert. And make no mistake, they have an author, who would rather see you flailing in the turbulent waters of your pain as opposed to seeing you free and claiming your one unique place in this world.

But, oh my friend, there is also a Lover of your soul who designed you to be free. And He wants to help you move beyond every lie that seeks to snuff out the hope and healing that is meant to be yours.

So, You. Get. To. Choose.

Doing this good hard work is like telling the destructive waves of your past, “you cannot rage beyond this point.”

What story will you write, starting today? It may never be on the pages of a book (although, I would really like to read it). But you will write your story, through the actions you take and the impact you make on those around you and in the generations that will come after you. Your story will leave a mark. What that looks like is up to you.

If what you read here today has you thinking about the story you are writing, you may want to check out our recommended resources at Join our community and learn along side of us at

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