The 7 Deadly Barriers to Personal Growth (And How to Plow Through Them)

There are seven barriers to personal growth that have the greatest effect on your ability to change your life for the better.

Once you become aware of these stumbling blocks, you’ll be in a good position to overcome them. How many do you have under control?

7. Undefined Goals

Setting goals is such a fundamental necessity of achievement, you might be excused for thinking that everyone already knows what they want. But, I’ve found over and over that this just isn’t the case. There are several unconscious factors that keep most people from defining what they want, and writing out clear goals.

If you do not consistently focus on what you want, you will not create, attract or be attracted to the opportunities to make them happen. Instead, you will create unfocused outcomes where sometimes you get what you want, but mostly what you don’t want. What’s worse, you will have no control over those experiences. Your mind is a goal-seeking mechanism, so set it pointing toward what you want. Go Set Your Goals!

6. Status Unknown

Now that you know where you want to go, get real about exactly where you are. If you don’t know where you are in relation to where you want to be, you will have no chance of finding the direction to your goal. You will be like a rudderless ship, adrift in the ocean of busyness or procrastination (whichever distraction you prefer), fretting and doing a lot, but accomplishing little. It’s time to take inventory of your life situation to get an accurate picture of where you are at. Overcome this Barrier to Personal Growth by Taking Inventory of your Life.

5. Unconscious Focusing on What You Don’t Want

When a person experiences an emotional trauma (and let’s face it, we all have to some degree), they will tend to focus on avoiding having that happen again. Unfortunately, the mind takes that focus and sets about creating or attracting to them the very thing they wanted to avoid. What’s worse, the more emotional power behind that focus, the quicker the result. You can see the importance of focusing on what you want, and taking your mind off of what you don’t want.

For most people, this focusing is done completely unconsciously, so they don’t know they’re doing it. But there is a clever trick to discovering your unconscious focus. It’s really easy to implement, and it works every time. “How do you feel?” Do you feel bad? If you feel bad, you are focusing your mind upon what you do not want. Try it. Think of something you find unpleasant, and pretty soon, your mood will turn sour. The secret is, that any time you feel bad, you are necessarily focusing on what you don’t want (even if you aren’t aware of that thought). Simply pull your focus back to what you do want, and begin to feel better. The more you practice this, the faster you will be able to control how you feel emotionally. You’ll be amazed by the power of this secret. Notice when you feel bad, and Refocus on What You Want.

4. Suffering Under the Illusion that You Are Your Ego

You do know that you are not your ego, right? Nor are you your mind, your thoughts, your feelings, your body or anything else you can name. You have thoughts, but you are not your thoughts. You have feelings, but you are not your feelings. You have these things, but you are not them. Well, I didn’t figure this out until I was about 25 years old. Some people never figure it out and are trapped, letting their body, mind and emotions control them. If you are under the illusion that you are your ego, you are bound by one of the toughest barriers to personal growth.

Sit quietly for a few minutes and try to clear your mind of any thoughts. It’s pretty hard to do if you’ve never meditated before. Try again, but this time simply observe those thoughts without judgement. Did you notice any gaps open up between thoughts? It took me about six months of doing this before any gaps opened up for me. But when they did, I found stillness and bliss, and the nothingness that is much closer to my real self. Befriend your true self with Meditation.

3. Limiting Beliefs

If you’ve read any self-help books at all, you’re sure to have learned about limiting beliefs. I was frustrated by the fact that every supposed self-help guru spoke about them, but never revealed exactly HOW to change them from limiting beliefs into empowering beliefs without buying their product… But wait, there’s more! I discovered that all your beliefs are governed by your values.

Simply think of all the things you value in life. Make a list and write it down. This list can contain things, relationships, activities, feelings, anything. Answer this question as if you are chatting to a friend over coffee, “what matters most to you in life?” List about ten things. Then arrange them in order of most to least important. This is your values list. Your values are like hooks that your beliefs hang off. Clarifying and defining your values changes all the beliefs that hang from them. While you may have thousands upon thousands of beliefs, you only have about 10 – 12 top values. Discovering and refining your Values has a huge trickle-down effect on all your beliefs. Discover, then Refine Your Values in Life.

2. Relegated Personal Responsibility

If you haven’t figured out that you’re 100% responsible for your life, you have relegated your power over to something else. Taking this view, it’s really easy to blame something outside of you for the situation you are in. But blame doesn’t get you anywhere, and it doesn’t help get you what you want, it just digs you down deeper.

Outside situations have nothing to do with the way you feel, whether you are late to work, how successful you are, or anything else. It’s really the internal thoughts that you have about those external situations that determine how your life is.

So, If you take just one thing from this article, it’s this: adopt the fundamental premise that you are 100% responsible for your own life. This doesn’t mean that you are to blame, but it does empower you to create your life as you would prefer it.

This is one of the largest barriers to personal growth, because we are taught to believe that we don’t have control. Of course we don’t have complete control, in fact the only thing each of us have 100% total control over is our own mind ~ but the mind influences our entire reality, our entire experience of life. So that’s a pretty good thing to have total control over. Your thoughts determine how you feel, and determines how your body works, and everything trickles down from that. It has direct influence over how you perceive the outside world. You change that, and effectively you change the outside world. All this happens in a mostly unconscious way. You are no longer a powerless child. Take back your responsibility!

1. Resistance

I didn’t really start living my life until I learned to give up resistance. Yes, it is something you have to learn to do, or more accurately unlearn the resistance. Surrender does not mean “giving up,” it simply means accepting what is, in the moment.

Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, gives an excellent example about what it means to surrender to the Now and get back into the flow of life. He tells the story of someone stuck waist-deep in the mud. If you struggle and resist the fact that you are stuck in the mud, you will waste a whole lot of energy on that emotional and physical suffering. Compare that to surrendering to the Now: Same man, same stuck state: but this time he accepts that he is stuck. He can’t change the fact that he’s stuck, but he can do something about it! So, slowly but surely he wades his way out, and without panic he even notices a branch to help haul himself out.

Surrender and accept your current situation, always. Then work to change it if that is your aim. Simple, but this will make a huge difference in your life. You will find yourself open up to opportunities that were previously hidden, you’ll experience new and exciting things you never thought possible, and you’ll have so much more fun – not to mention all the things you’ll be able to achieve with far less effort. A friend of mine has addopted this in his life and likes to, “say yes to everything – it makes problems disappear.” Acceptance is the key.

Turn the Barriers to Personal Growth into Stepping Stones

Awareness in and of itself is transformative.

~ Ken Wilber

The only way to truly reverse these barriers to personal growth is to increase your conscious awareness. Get curious about the inner workings of your own mind, and notice the consequences of the thoughts you have. You don’t have to do it for long before you get a wealth of awareness about how you are creating your own experience of reality.

Without a doubt, the most effective way to increase your awareness is to begin a daily meditation practice. There are faster methods (which I use) that involve binaural beats to deepen the meditation, or EEG brain-training to knock decades from the traditional meditative journey (not that it’s a race, but this site is focused on accelerated development!). So take some time for your (true) Self and meditate, and get curious about the miracle that is your own mind

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Mike Dec 4, 2015 @ 0:43

    I recently was touched by God. In the interest of keeping this brief, I do believe God is internal in us all. Anyhow, I was taught through prayer and meditation the removal of barriers that you so eloquently summed up here. Awesome that you exist to show others the expansion of joy and surprise. I have to practice at these daily and it works!

  • Makwena Oct 14, 2013 @ 7:46

    Thank you so much , your article is helpful for facilitating this topic

  • Alanna Tavernier Jan 7, 2013 @ 6:48

    Hey I’m aware of my journey in self development and want to make an impact in the lives of others with there journey too by becoming a life coach. Your article has so much substance which is fundamental for my goals to take shape. Thank you

    • Jim Jan 7, 2013 @ 9:18

      Hey Alanna,

      You’re most welcome. That’s what it’s all about — uplifting one another!

  • Vesna Feb 24, 2012 @ 10:10

    It’s important for me to refresh and reset my way of thinking from time to time. Your generous articles are such an incredible help. Thank you for sharing!

    • Jim Feb 24, 2012 @ 11:03

      You’re very welcome!

      These ideas and changes have certainly helped me, and it’s very gratifying to share them and help others 🙂

  • miguel Feb 11, 2012 @ 0:55

    great articles, can i place them in my
    community magazine for free? the source is going to be:
    we are a community magazine in south Africa – Johannesburg

    • Jim Feb 24, 2012 @ 11:01

      I’ve emailed you 🙂

  • Piper Feb 2, 2012 @ 16:05

    Thanks-a-mundo for the blog post.Much thanks again. Awesome.

  • Frank Jan 10, 2012 @ 11:39

    Can you write some more about the limiting beliefs and values. It makes a lot of sense to me, but I’ve always struggled to actually change those beliefs.

    • Jim Jan 21, 2012 @ 20:29

      Sure Frank, I’ll map something out for a future article 🙂