Are You Holding You Back?

We all have quirks, weaknesses, bad habits, and sometimes we’re just ignorant.  These things may be stopping us from getting what we want. It’s called self-sabotage.  We have to be self-aware enough to address it. Especially if we want to get somewhere other than where we already are. We need to get out of our own way.

Looking deep into ourselves isn’t always pleasant (and, on occasion, can be downright terrifying). We leave clues for ourselves and there are usually plenty of people willing to point out where improvement would be welcome (you know who those people are).  It is imperative to sift through all that and be honest with ourselves and then repair it.

Ignorance is an easy fix

This is the easiest thing to address. We don’t know what we don’t know. Find the information needed and ignorance disappears!  This can come from a trusted source, a book, or it can always be googled (what the heck did we do before google?).  Research, research, research….be in the know! Then put it into motion.

Eradicating bad habits

Bad habits can be detrimental for multiple reasons. For instance, if you have the habit of interrupting people it is not only rude but it means you are not listening but only thinking about what you want to say, making yourself appear crass, self- involved, and 2 years old. Connecting the dots, this is clearly bad for both personal relationships and business connections.  This is a simple but not easy thing to correct.  It mostly comes down replacing bad habits with a smart habit.  Dr. Arthur B. Markman wrote a more detailed post here  about how exactly do this.  Whatever bad habit you have that could be holding you back should be deemed the enemy and dealt with until the threat to your success is gone.

Sometimes we have to make sure that we don't overwhelm the masses with all our uniqueness. Click To Tweet

Keeping our quirks in check

Personality quirks make us all unique. Unique is good, to a point. After all, we still need people to be able to relate to us. Sometimes we have to make sure that we don’t overwhelm the masses with all our uniqueness. Nervous laughter would be a great example .  There are so many situations where that could go wrong.  We need to hold back and let prudence take over and be judicious in our quirkiness.

Addressing our weaknesses

This is where things get tricky.

Some of our weaknesses can be strengthened.  Our skills can always be built up and practiced. For instance, I can practice speaking in front of a crowd and get better over time. (And I do…every single anxiety inducing time.)

Some of our weaknesses are perceived.  They aren’t necessarily weaknesses but that is how it is viewed by others.   These are the ones that need to be compensated for and some need a touch of ingenuity.  

In my case, I have a two interconnected ‘weaknesses’ that have gotten in the way both personally and professionally.  I have dealt with them my whole life and will continue to if I am to get the things I want out of life.

The first is that I am a dyed-in-the-wool introvert.  I gather my energy from time spent alone.  I am a deep thinker.  I do not have a need to be the center of attention.  I thrive with deep conversations and struggle with small talk.  None of these things screams weakness but society values extroverts. We want to see the life of the party and ‘in your face’ is seen as strong and courageous. Society views introverts  as shy, quiet, and weak. In order to get the attention of most people, I have to put on an extroverted face.  

Now I hear some of you already getting your panties in a bunch about being someone you’re not.  My putting a little bit of extroversion into my presentation is no different than people acting professional.  When we act professional, we are putting ourselves out there in a manner in which will allow us to be taken seriously in that circumstance.  Sometimes we have to adjust our behavior in a way that will allow us to be heard.

My second weakness is that I have a severe case of Resting Bitch Face, or RBF. My RBF is frequently interpreted as anger, aloofness, snottiness, arrogance, and condescension. It definitely is a hurdle.  I have tried with all my might to smile as much as I can to overcome this but the minute I am concentrating or attempting to be serious ***BOOM*** the RBF regains it’s original configuration.

I chose to use humor and honesty as my weapons. Click To Tweet

I had to be creative about dealing with this.  So I chose to use humor and honesty as my weapons.  If I get in front of a class or a large group of people the first thing I do is tell them about the RBF and explain that I am much friendlier than I appear and then apologize for the face my mama gave me. Many of my friends and colleagues now also give this heads up if they are going to introduce me one on one.  This usually gets a good laugh and serves as a generous icebreaker.  Everyone will now pay attention and quit wondering “what is wrong with her?”.  And just like that…a weakness is a strength.

There are enough obstacles on our journeys, we shouldn’t be one of them. The great news is that we have all the power.  We can control ourselves.  We can get out of our own way.

How are you working to clear your way?  Do you have any tips to share with what worked for you

4 thoughts on “Are You Holding You Back?

  1. Kristin

    I hear you about the introvert/extrovert thing. It’s often energy-draining for me to put myself in front of people, even digitally, but especially at conferences and stuff. I have to admit: I probably do hold myself back because of this. It’s so much easier to stay in my comfort zone away from people! It’s something I’m working on, too.

    1. Anna Post author

      I force myself to accept any “public” engagement I can fit into my calendar as a way to “get over” my anxieties about this. It does get a little better each time. I just make sure to leave myself plenty of alone time to recover!

  2. Designing A Frugal Life

    First time reader and I LOVE this post. I struggle with putting on my social pants and the dreaded RBF too. Sometimes it stinks to have to put so much thought into social interactions – “ok, are my facial features arranged in a pleasant manner? Am I responding quick enough? Was that a joke they just made? Oh ok, it was. I’ll laugh now – hahaha” and then the two seconds is over and the co-worker is done walking by, saying hello on the way to the water cooler. – but I’ve put a lot of work and practice into “how to be charming” (or at least “how to not make people cringe at your awkwardness and walk away”) and it makes me happy to be able to have small talk with people and both of us feel good about the exchange afterwards.

    Your line about not overwhelming people with our uniqueness is awesome. I like to think of it as offering a curated version of myself to the world.

    1. Anna Post author

      Thanks for stopping by to read! The RBF is a tough one and I know I am not alone out there. It does use up a lot of energy to combat it. It’s just one of those things that I had to learn to work with because I wasn’t going to get what I wanted otherwise.


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