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5 Self-Sabotaging Habits Holding You Back (And How To Fix Them)

Shannon Kaiser
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January 13, 2016
Shannon Kaiser
By Shannon Kaiser
mbg Contributor
Shannon Kaiser is the best-selling author of 5 books on the psychology of happiness and fulfillment including The Self-Love Experiment, Adventures for Your Soul, and Joy Seeker. She has a B.A. in Journalism and Communications from the University of Oregon.
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January 13, 2016

The new year comes with new opportunities and a fresh batch of motivation to follow through on our promises. Inevitably, life happens, and sticking to those resolutions gets harder. If you want to truly transform your life, examine your self-sabotaging behaviors and work to heal them. That's the only true way to lasting growth and happiness.

When people ask me how I found happiness, the story always goes back to transforming my limiting beliefs and self-sabotaging habits. In the spirit of starting fresh (and doing it right this time), here are some of the most common ways we sabotage our own happiness and tips on how to fix them:

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1. We settle because we think it's the best we can get.

Many people unknowingly play it safe because they fear rejection. Whether it's an unchallenging job that also fails to ignite our passion or an unfulfilling relationship, settling becomes a subconscious strategy to lower expectations and reduce pain. People crave new experiences and want passion in their lives, but their fear of the unknown is often greater than their desire to reach happiness.

The Fix: Press the reset button on your life. Imagine what your life would look like if you had everything you dream of. Nothing is permanent; at every moment of your life you have an opportunity to change directions. Resetting your life is really raising your standards.

2. We listen to our heads instead of our hearts.

One of the most common happiness-hindering habits is overthinking ourselves into paralysis. This shows up in the form of overanalyzing, being extremely critical, or just generally mistrusting our own feelings. When we rely on thoughts and ignore our feelings, we can get trapped in a web of uncertainty. Thoughts are usually fear-based and lead us to act (or not act) out of fear rather than out of self-awareness and acceptance.

The Fix: Teach yourself — through repetition, meditation, or whatever works for you — that what you believe about yourself is who you are. If you want to change something, believe you are worthy of your goals. You are.

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3. We ignore inspiration.

We all have moments of inspiration. Whether it's a nudge to go somewhere at a certain time or speak a truth that's on our minds, acting on those intuitions is part of finding happiness. Most people don't act on those feelings because of the anxiety that bubbles up about where those inspirations might lead you. If you feel stuck in life, chances are you're missing these moments of inspiration.

The Fix: To fix this habit, nourish the nudge. Consider taking one step outside your comfort zone each day. If you want to write a book, set time aside and put pen to paper. If you're itching to travel somewhere, go online and research flights or hotels. You could even go to your favorite bookstore and look at a guidebook on a few destinations, or create a Pinterest board to inspire your dream trip. Just listen to yourself, and respond with compassion, gratitude, and joy.

4. We let fear rule us.

Fear is the cause of most dissatisfaction in life. Fear of pain drives many people to depression, addiction, staying in situations that suck the life out of them, and other self-sabotaging and abusive patterns. Familiarity is our safety net. Branching out into the unknown is extremely unnerving, but I know from my own journey that all transformation requires us to accept uncertainty and embrace the unknown. Fulfillment and security are on the other side of the challenge.

The Fix: To feel more joy and confidence through times of uncertainty, let your heart lead you. Inspiration comes through the heart. The happiest, most successful, and healthiest people you know have learned to trust the inner wisdom of their hearts.

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5. We worry too much about what other people think.

Many of us seek reassurance from others and let their opinions keep us from making the choices we need to make to be happy. If you want to leave the job you hate or try something new, you may worry about those closest to you judging you or disapproving of your actions. This can only make it harder for you to reach your goal.

The Fix: Support yourself. You want to surround yourself with people who believe in you. But you have to believe in yourself first. If you're worried about what others will think, read that as a cue to turn your attention inward and develop confidence within yourself. When we hold up an energetic mirror to problem situations, we see that they're all reflections of us. If you want others to believe in you and support you, first support yourself.

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This excerpt is adapted from the author's new book, Adventures for Your Soul.

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Shannon Kaiser
Shannon Kaiser

Shannon Kaiser is the best-selling author of 5 books on the psychology of happiness and fulfillment including The Self-Love Experiment and Adventures for Your Soul, Joy Seeker, and Unshakable Inner Peace Oracle card deck, and the forthcoming book Return to You. She has a B.A. in journalism and communications from the University of Oregon. As an international life coach, speaker, and retreat leader, she helps people awaken and align with their true selves so they can live their highest potential.

She's been named top 100 Women to Watch in wellness by mindbodygreen, alongside Cameron Diaz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kris Carr and Gabriel Bernstein, and was listed as of the freshest voices in mental health and wellness by Chicken Soup for The Women's Soul. She's been named one of Entrepreneurs Must-Follow Instagram Accounts for Inspiration and Top Facebook Accounts for Daily Motivation by Mind Body Green.

Her website Playwiththeworld.com has been names top 75 Personal development websites and top 100 self-help websites by the institute for the Psychology of Eating. She's an international life coach and author mentor, and a full time world traveler with a home base in Portland, Oregon with her best friend, her Golden Retriever Chance, who she flew to China to Rescue.