I've seen amazing transformation in my holistic psychotherapy practice, but over the years I've noticed some themes emerge among folks who are less likely to change.
These are the five core barriers that keep people from succeeding in therapy, and five mantras to help you overcome them.
1. The belief that you can't change.
When you don't believe you can change, change cannot happen. Some people mistakenly think that change is possible for others, but not for them. They don't realize that the belief itself thwarts their progress, because it closes the door to another possibility.
Mantra: I am open to change. I am moving toward my destiny.
2. Unwillingness to cultivate a warm, friendly attitude toward self.
This is hard for everyone working on personal development. Getting friendly, curious, gentle, and ultimately compassionate toward the things we dislike about ourselves is a big — and absolutely essential — part of the process.
People who commit fully to self-loathing, who refuse to let even a little warmth toward self trickle in, remain imprisoned and don't evolve. Nothing is more effective at stifling growth than self-hatred.
Mantra: I am worthy and deserving of love. Just for today, I will be gentle with myself.
3. Lack of spiritual life, or a sense that life is meaningless
The belief that life has no purpose or meaning causes deep suffering. Quantum physics states that the "material plane" of existence (i.e. what we see/touch/perceive) is only four percent of reality. It doesn't have to be god or religion, but it's important to acknowledge that, empirically speaking, something bigger is going on.
Don't mistake the perceivable universe with the whole. It's like keeping a paper bag over your head and wondering why the view sucks.
Mantra: I trust in the divine order and intelligence of the universe.
Intellectualization is another major barrier to growth. It is the attempt to solve the problem from the "neck up." While you do need to assess and understand what pains you, there has to be a point where you let go of your ideas about the problem, and drop down into your experience, into your body. This is where the Truth lies.
Mantra: I trust the wisdom of my body. It's safe to feel my feelings.
5. Minimizing the depth of work needed
Another huge mistake folks make is minimizing the depth of work needed. Some people are prone to "spiritualizing" or glossing over their problems rather than letting themselves get into the trenches. They minimize the impact of the past on the present situation out of fear. They make do with the status quo.
Don't let this happen to you. You deserve — and are capable of having — so much more than you're settling for.
Mantra: I am now safe to greet and encounter my past wounds. I allow myself to meet my potential.
I believe with my heart that we are each already whole. But if you want to live the life of your dreams, you have to invest in understanding your past. There's no way around it.
We all avoid working on ourselves at different times, for various reasons, and in sneaky little ways. It's OK. Just be mindful that any one of these barriers can easily, insidiously stymie the change you so desperately want.
Greet your past, understand and feel how it contributes to who you are, digest the elements of it that aren't serving you, and then eliminate anything toxic that remains. Stop putting off enlightenment. It's worth working for.
For more on how to make the most out of your therapy, start here: