Some of the most common mental roadblocks to making changes in our lives include fear of success, resistance to change by friends and family, and being in a rut (Yost, 2004). Mental roadblocks are really distorted thinking that gives you reasons not to try to change. They are common in people who have experienced addiction.
The fear roadblock occurs when you allow your fear of failure to stop you from taking any action. It is being paralyzed by distorted thinking (Yost, 2004). Some examples are:
- All or nothing thinking: “I will not be able to pay my bills if I go to school so I can’t go.”
- Negative labeling: “I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough.”
- Fortune-telling: “I will never get accepted into that training program.”
Do any of these sound familiar to you? Write down some of the negative language you use when you talk to yourself about making changes.
If negative, fearful self talk is a common experience for you, you may find some good tools to manage this type of dysfunctional thinking in “The Feeling Good Handbook” By Dr. David Burns.
The resistance roadblock exists when you stop trying to change your life whenever other people resist and protest (Yost, 2004). Some examples are:
• Parents: “How will you ever pay your bills if you do that?”
• Friends: “That sounds pretty risky.” or “It doesn’t pay well, I wouldn’t do it”.
• Wife: “The last time you tried something like that it didn’t work.”
• Others: “How can you do that, aren’t you an addict?”
In the resistance roadblock other people use their cognitive (thinking) distortions and dysfunctional thinking to convince you not to take action. Have people in your life discouraged you from changing? Improving your communication skills and learning to manage interpersonal conflict will help you to deal successfully with the people who create barriers for you. List the people whose opinions you will have to manage or for whom you will have to set boundaries because they don’t believe that you have the power to change.
Being in a rut occurs when you can’t see any possibility of change (Yost, 2004). You have been thinking negatively about your life, yourself, and work for so long you just can’t see it any other way. Your continuous negative self talk may include:
- “It’s the only thing I know how to do.”
- “I never was good at school and never will be.”
- “It pays the bills.”
To stay in a rut, you actually use a lot of energy to keep up the negative attitude and distorted thinking. Do you think your work life is in a rut? To get out of the rut, you will need to work to raise your self esteem and self confidence. You will need to practice and use the new thinking skills you will be learning through your reading.