One Common Mistake That Can Hold You Back in Life

by Henrik Edberg

One Common Mistake That Can Hold You Back in Life
Image by CarbonNYC (license).

One big mistake that I have made many times and I guess others do too – many might even do it on a daily basis – is to think what you feel right now is kinda permanent. That it is how you really feel about things and will feel in the near future too.

However, it is really hard to predict how you will feel just an hour or 15 minutes from now. The mind fools you as you identify with the emotions you are feeling right now. This can really hold you back in your daily life. Which of course makes a huge impact on your overall life.

Should I stay at home or just go?

You may for example not feel like going to the gym today. Your mind might say “It’s ok, you don’t need that anyway, you were there three days ago”. And so you lie back on the couch. But you can also say to yourself “No, today is workout day and I will go even though I don’t feel like it/don’t think I need to”. And so you go. And after you have been there for maybe 15 minutes you start to enjoy it and you’re glad you went.

Or there might be a party this weekend. But you are hesitant to go because you will only know one other person there. Maybe no one will to talk to you. Maybe it will be awkward. You may tell yourself “Well, it’s better to just stay home and take it easy”. But then you go despite those uncertain feelings and small disaster scenarios in your head. And you have a great time and met a new fun friend that is into the same things as you are.

If you go with your inner voice and what you are feeling right now you will miss out on a lot of stuff. And when it comes to your personal development you will be wildly inconsistent.

Be consistent, be awesome.

People will often not get the results they want. A part of that comes from advertising that tells us over and over that we can get what we want much faster than is really realistic. This leaves us disillusioned. But another part of this lack is because people don’t apply the actually very helpful pointers and advice they get in a consistent manner.

If you want to lose fat on your body you have to go and workout consistently. You can’t just do it when you feel like it. Like maybe a few times a month. You have to monitor what you eat and think before you stuff things into your mouth. If you go with what you feel you may want to reward yourself a bit too much with treats. Or think that you will just work off that extra sugar when you go to the gym. But as I understand it at least the very most important factor for fat loss is about consistently eating less calories than you use.

Now, I don’t want to paint a bleak picture where you have to behave like a robot and can’t have one single ice-cream this summer. And I am not saying that you shouldn’t trust your intuition or gut in life and when it comes to big things and decisions.

But I have come to understand that my mind doesn’t always want what I know is the right thing to do. The mind often tries to get us to choose the easiest option in our daily lives. It makes it seem like what you feel now is reality. Even though emotional states are fleeting and you can change them around in just a few minutes or hours by going to that gym or party.

And the thing is if you start to not take what you feel or think right now too seriously and do the right thing anyway you can not only get much better results than you may have before. You will also feel a lot better about yourself right now when you do what you know deep down is the right thing to do.

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{ 16 comments }

Daniel Richard April 10, 2009 at 7:00 pm

I had a slump of a week, and it was only yesterday where that depressing feeling which had held me back was confronted and overcame. Awesomeness came in after knowing that such down periods can be overcome. :)

Matthew | Polaris Rising April 10, 2009 at 7:29 pm

Feelings are impermanent. This is a great truth of Buddhist thinking. Everything is impermanent. Knowing this not only makes you less lost in your feelings, it also increases your trust that you won’t get lost in anything “dark”. It’s all impermanent, and ultimately helps you knowing your deepest Self.

That said, I don’t agree with consistently forcing yourself to do something because you “should”. Yes, sometimes feelings need to be put aside temporarily in life circumstances. But we are not machines. Feelings always tell us something. Often they’re telling us not to stop, but to find a different way. Perhaps going to the gym is more fun with different songs, being social with those around, and maybe being outrageous while there? But if you force yourself, it turns into a grind.

Henrik Edberg April 10, 2009 at 9:00 pm

@ Daniel: Awesome, glad to hear that!

@ Matthew: Thanks for adding that point. Feelings can tell us a lot of important stuff like to find another way to avoid making things a grind (I for example switched from the stationary bike because I really didn’t like it to more fun body weight circuits to get my cardio exercise). And we are not machines.

But I do think that feelings can also be underlying stuff like simple laziness, avoidance of possible pain or ingrained social conditioning that we somehow try to rationalize as valid reasons to not do something. That is what I have seen many times in myself at least. Of course, even then feelings can tell us important things about ourselves.

IvánPérez April 10, 2009 at 11:38 pm

That’s very important, but is one of those things we think are obvious yet we don’t apply. For me in important decisions it all comes down to values vs. feelings. You can trust intuition but intuition is a different kind of feeling, intuition will never be an excuse.

Most of the time the feelings that try to stop us come from a wrong mindset (i.e. thinking people are not-friendly, not viewing a goal as something actually possible, etc.).

I think everyone should write their values down and surrender to them.

I’ve enjoyed this article. Cheers.

Anonymous April 11, 2009 at 2:14 am

this post is great! Everything is so true it reminds me of the movie Yes Man!

Jarrod - Warrior Development April 11, 2009 at 4:11 am

Be consistent. Be awesome.

One of the greatest lines ever. Persistant effort brings great results.

More so than not knowing how we will feel in an hour we can decide how we will feel. That is awesomeness.

Positively Present April 11, 2009 at 8:52 pm

I really love the idea “be consistent. be awesome.” Consistency is really important, especially in the work world. I cannot tell you how many work-related self-help articles I’ve read that advise being consistent. Not only can consistency benefit you, but it can also benefit those around you. People like people they can count on and will be more likely to include you if you are they kind of person they can count on.

Stephen - Rat Race Trap April 12, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Change your thoughts –> change your beliefs –> change your results.

FaYrUs April 12, 2009 at 9:19 pm

Thank you Henrik, your artikles really intresting and inspiring

rudanici April 13, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Sometimes I just need a friend/spouse/relative to nudge/push/remind me of my plans and goals. It’s a jumpstart…and once you are already running the engine, it’ll go smoother. It’s always the starting part that can be a real plan-spoiler.

Great articles!

Laurie | Express Yourself to Success April 13, 2009 at 4:42 pm

I really enjoyed this post because it was so true. I find myself doing this often, especially when I’ve got a ticket to the theatre or some event in the evening after work and I just don’t want to make the effort to go. However, I’m always reminding myself that when I’m at the venue, I’m enjoying myself and am happy to be there. And that’s what happens, – I’ve always felt good during and after.

Henrik Edberg April 13, 2009 at 6:22 pm

Thank you very much for all the comments, guys! Glad you found the article helpful.

Aesthetic Thoughts April 13, 2009 at 6:27 pm

I was just discussing this topic with a close friend of mine today! It is very true indeed. How we feel now is not an indication of how we are going to feel tonight, tomorrow or next week. It is crucial we realize this.

Sun-shine April 14, 2009 at 3:44 am

Yes,
your articles always lift me up and give me reason to try . to continue.
Henrik, your articles help me resolve so many questions that I cannot ask those close to me -because they seem to be over it!
So your articles have become MY FRIENDS IN NEED.

I am also glad to see that there are so many likeminded people who read and try to chnge.

Thank you and happy writing

Neil Matthews April 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm

When faced with big tasks I am having trouble motivating myself for I like to break them down into smaller chunks, like your go to the gym example, I struggle sometimes before a run, my breakdown is – get my running kit on, once I am in motion, I usually gain momentum, it’s the first little step that is the hardest

Richard Fan April 16, 2009 at 4:50 am

GOSH, that was great. Thanks Henrik

I’ve tried to understand and practice the following from David K Reynold’s
“Constructive Living”

1. Accept Your Feelings
2. Know Your Purpose
3. Do What Needs To Be Done

Your example of going to the gym when you don’t feel like it, hit me in the head like a hammer (I do 5.30am daily 30 min walks) and it just puts it all together for me.

Now, i can say to myself to ALL my tasks

“Yes, i don’t feel like doing it”
“but its important (bcos …) and i’m going to start it anyway!”

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