We often notice worry, panic, nightmares and overwhelm in anxiety, but I think the more overlooked problem of Holding-back is the bigger issue. Here’s why:

With difficulties like fears, social anxiety, stress, IBS, poor sleep and phobias, we’re more likely to notice the problem and do something about it. But holding back has a booby-trap built into it.

By definition, when we shy away from doing things they don’t get done. Dealing with avoidance is (yes you’ve guessed it!) usually avoided.

It really tends to be part of a two-element issue. The first part is the instinctive move to change what we do in order to keep away from what triggers bad feelings, and the second part is that taking this action means our minds automatically look for problems rather than solutions.

That results in us seeing 10 ways for us to fail before we see 1 to succeed, which creates an increase in feeling stuck.

Rather than sit through the negativity that comes with recognising this situation, we get jittery and look for distraction, which just keeps us in the cycle.

One way this makes things worse, is that no matter how crushed we feel we still have hopes or dreams. They might just be comparisons – “look how well my old school friend is doing”, or they might be goals like having our own business, getting a qualification we want or relationships. But the holding back keeps us a long way from achieving those things.

It is when we see this difference between where we feel we are, and where we imagine we’d like to be, that we experience even more bad feeling. Yet we continue to hold back from moving towards success in what we wish for and just feed the fire of bad feeling.

Procrastination, kicking-it-down-the-road, putting-it-on-the-long-finger, call it what you like, is a huge problem. It really means that the thing that can help is deliberately avoided, thus continuing the problem.

Here are examples I’ve seen recently:

One man I know has an amazing business idea, literally something that could go over millions of Euro if handled right. He has an idea and a view that is astounding. He thinks he’s working on it, but three years on, there is almost no progress. Yet he’s always busy, always thinking about it, always avoiding real progress and distracting himself.

One lady with locked-in grief over the loss of a child was avoiding the bad feeling so much that it kept going for over 2 decades. Comments she made included ‘I’ll deal with it when I’m stronger’, and ‘Once it feels a bit better I’ll deal with it’. After over 20 years it was locked in, it was unlikely to get better by itself, but the illusion created by the bad feeling was ‘avoid it and it’ll be better’. We do that so often. Thankfully she did get help eventually.

The frantic activity around the subject which actually avoids the core issue, is common too. A great example of this is the person who wants to get fit but never gets around to it. You probably know someone who bought all the cycling gear: The lycra shorts, the pump and repair kit, the helmet, but who doesn’t actually have a bike.

We often trick ourselves with this: “I’ll get all the gear first, then I’ll start”. We can do this with anything in life. Finding one more reason not to start just yet, is easier when we’re spending money, getting things, feeling involved. That’s still a long way from taking real action. We can hold back expertly when we have activity around the issue that achieves nothing useful.

Feeling a bit uncomfortable reading this? Well done for still being here. A lot of people have clicked away already.

Noticing what it is that we want to accomplish and being aware of the distraction that’s getting between us and our dream, is huge.

Focus on the feeling. That’s what’s driving this. What is that feeling? A nervous tension, pressure on the bladder, knot in the stomach, tight or weight on the chest, lump in the throat? These are the feelings to address and resolve to succeed. A better plan, idea, getting more organised etc., are illusions to keep us busy and don’t address the real issue – the feeling that holds us back!

Tackle these and start to build real success. I can’t count the number of people I’ve seen who’s lives just took off once they began to break past the holding-back!

I’m always happy to chat with people about how to break through the holding-back, so feel free to comment, mail, or call.

Change is easier than you think.

Every best wish for success in starting to build your dreams into a reality.

All the best,