I Held Myself Back In Life For Far Too Long — Here’s How I Stopped

It’s a beautiful feeling to know that I really can make my life exactly what I want it to be. There was a time not long ago when this seemed impossible, when I stood in my own way of getting everything I wanted in life. Thankfully, I finally stopped and I’ve never been happier. Here’s how I did it:

  1. I let go of fear. Fear is definitely the enemy. It is what keeps us from the lives we’re truly meant to have. I had so much fear in my heart and my mind that it literally crippled me. I lived in a rut for a very long time because I was too afraid to change. It took hitting rock bottom to realize that I had to save myself by letting fear go. I’ve lived an amazing life ever since.
  2. I started trusting myself. I never trusted myself, not truly, my entire life. I lived in a land of insecurity and self-doubt. Once I fought tooth and nail to overcome it, I realized that I’d been living in a lie that I made up. I had no reason not to trust myself. I’m all I really have — I can’t live successfully like that. Trusting myself opened the floodgates of possibility for my life.
  3. I started saying yes to opportunity. My first instinct was always to say no before. I would give in to my fear and self-doubt and decide not to try anything new. What was the point? I was bound to fail. Now I say yes, especially if it scares me. That’s how I know something will help me learn and grow. I’m that much prouder when I accomplish something I was afraid to try in the first place.
  4. I became more mindful. I started paying a lot of attention to how I think and whether it’s healthy or not. I constantly work on changing my thought processes and adopting better mental habits. Knowing that I have the power to change my mind this way helped me realize that I can do anything I really want.
  5. I changed my perspective. With a lot of hard work, meditation and yoga, I willed myself to look at the world differently. I started living gratefully instead of bitterly and I realized how lucky I am. Once I began thinking this way instead of living in a negative, angry hole, I opened up to all the possibility there is in the world. I believe I can do anything now.
  6. I fought my negative inner voice. This is a tough ongoing battle and I know it’ll be one for a long time. Still, I’ve made great strides in improving the way I talk to myself. I listen to the voice in my head and think, would I ever speak that way to someone I care about? No. I care about myself, so I refuse to speak to myself that way either. It gets a little better every day.
  7. I worked on loving myself. It’s easy to brush off the difficult task of self-love. We feel selfish and indulgent for focusing on ourselves but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it’s only through cultivating self-love that we learn to truly love others. Once I became comfortable with who I am, I could let others be themselves without judgment. I can accomplish anything now because I’m not wasting energy telling myself I can’t.
  8. I stopped letting other people dictate who I am. This is a big one. We often think that we can control what other people think of us. We can’t and we never will, but we can control how we let those opinions affect us. I cared so deeply about other people that I had no idea who I was or what I stood for. Once I let go of all that noise and listened to my soul, I realized that I am indeed a powerful woman capable of great things.
  9. I began giving my love freely. I don’t mean this in a sexual way! I just mean that when I gained confidence and happiness, I was suddenly able to give love to everyone without expecting anything in return. It makes me happy to make other people happy. It’s easy to do and so very rewarding. I can accomplish the seemingly impossible simply by loving others, listening to them and accepting them.
  10. I started putting in the work. There was no use in complaining when I wasn’t even trying. I felt guilty all the time because I knew I wasn’t giving my best effort, but I didn’t understand how to change it. It wasn’t until I started listening to my heart again that I regained my passion for life. I no longer minded doing the work because it was work I enjoyed. Now I know that as long as I’m passionate, I’m successful.
  11. I learned how to stop taking criticism personally. I used to crumble at any sign that someone disapproved of something I did. It didn’t matter if the criticism was constructive or negative — I took it to mean I was terrible at life. When I taught myself to instead look at critiques as something necessary for growth and improvement, I became more effective in life. Now I know that they actually help me achieve everything I want.
  12. I stopped taking things personally. It was either live in a rut of self-loathing or realize that what other people say and do really has nothing to do with me at all. I can only control myself, and I choose to live my life the best I can. If someone doesn’t like something I do, that’s okay. I know now that their reactions have more to do with their own experiences than anything I’ve done. Taking things personally crippled me but now I’m finally free to live powerfully.
A former actress who has always loved the art of the written word, Amy is excited to be here sharing her stories! She just completed her first novel, and is also a contributor for Elite Daily, Dirty & Thirty, and Thought Catalog. Amy is the founder of What If Journey and can be found on Twitter @amyhorton18. You can also visit her website at amyhorton.net.