How to Get Out of Your Own Way

Jordana del Feld
4 min readMar 26, 2024


Do you want to live a life of unfathomable health, wealth, love, and happiness? (Or, for some, a life where there’s enough?) And at the same time, do you feel like even dreaming of such good fortune is, somehow, not for people like you? Even though you know that dreams are the first steps toward creating the life you want, do you stop yourself before you even get the dream out?

If you’re like a lot of people, you’re an expert on exactly how to make yourself feel small, bad, and unworthy. Like the kind of person who shouldn’t be dreaming big dreams, or even small dreams. You might even have had a whole lifetime of practice in telling yourself mean lies that get in the way of you pursuing your dreams. And over time and millions of repetitions, those mean lies have turned into “truths.” Truths that get in the way of you creating the life that you want to live.

Fortunately, you have the power to change your own mind.

You can get out of your own way.

Create Possibility

If you tell yourself “I’m a stinky stinker” all the time, suddenly telling yourself “I am a beautiful princess” won’t stick. Your brain has had plenty of time to get used to its old thought habit. Habit is familiar, and familiar is safe, and your brain wants to keep you safe at all costs. Over time, your brain has come to accept the bad thought as the truth. If you suddenly try to force it to believe an idea that is the exact opposite of what it has come to view as truth, your brain will balk. It will reject the new idea.

You can’t argue with a belief-based system (like, “I’m a stinky stinker”) and expect to win. But you can practice noticing when the belief comes up. You can practice questioning it. And you can practice rewording how you tell yourself the belief. Over time, this new practice of being curious about the belief can allow you to explore different possibilities. “That thought is not true” can be too much to swallow, so your brain may very well spit it out. But brains do love questions that invite safe engagement, like, “is that exactly the way it is?”

Catch Yourself

The first step is noticing when you’re thinking a habit-thought that makes you feel bad. Just notice. That’s enough for now.

This new practice might take a while. Our brains like to notice what is new and different, not what is old and familiar. Just invite yourself to try. Just for today, can you invite yourself to notice when that “I’m a stinky stinker” voice pipes up? And then, just for tomorrow? And then, just for the day after that?

Building this new noticing habit might need patience and kindness to yourself. But it can also be fun. It’s ok to be proud of all the little successes along the way. And one day, maybe sooner than you expect, your brain will notice the old habit-thought popping up, all by itself, without you having to tell yourself to do it!

When you feel ready to add on to your new practice, here are questions to ask yourself.

Body Language

When you first invite new possibilities into your mind, telling yourself the new idea in words might feel too challenging. But what if you speak to yourself with body language? Is that safer? If you use your own body language of curiosity, you can feel the curiosity.

When you find yourself telling yourself that bad thought, what happens if you raise an eyebrow?

Or furrow your eyebrows?

Or grunt?

How does your body like to express curiosity?

For Always?

When you find yourself thinking the bad thought, what happens if you suggest the possibility that the thought is temporary? Can you play with that?

Can you tell yourself, “that’s an interesting belief for right now?”

Maybe it’s more interesting to say “in this moment this feels true?”

Or if you’re feeling daring, how would it be to say, “yes, I used to tell myself that!”

Anyone Else?

We often find it easier to believe nice truths about other people, than about ourselves. It is easy to spot when other people are getting down on themselves. We know they are wrong. So, when you catch yourself cranking up to tell yourself a mean habit-thought, can you think of anyone you like, whom you have also caught talking smack to themselves, the way you are trying to talk smack to yourself right now?

“Samantha is so smart. But I remember she used to think that too.”

“Harry is so well-liked in the community. But I remember he used to doubt himself too.”

If Samantha and Harry, whom you like, can make mistakes in their thinking, maybe mistakes in thinking are possible in general. And if they are, might other thoughts be possible?

Let It Go

Once you’ve created curiosity about your habit-thought, change the subject. The longer you focus directly on this new possibility, the more chance you give your analytical thinking brain to shut it down and spit it out. But if you casually toss the new idea into your mind and set it free to wander, you give your way-more-powerful unconscious a chance to explore the idea, to digest the idea, and to give you back the idea as a meaningful new truth.

“Hunh. Now how about Uncle Leonard’s house party on Saturday.”

“Wow, look at me go. ….How ‘bout those ‘Niners?’

Catch and release. Like a fish.

Good Luck!

The most exciting thing about minds is that they can change. And…meaningful change is usually the result of meaningful practice. With consistent patience, kindness, and time for pride, you can build a healthy new thinking practice. You can change your beliefs about yourself. And when your beliefs change, your whole world can change. So go for it!