I reached out to some of the top names in personal development on the web to ask about the biggest mental blocks they had to overcome to get to where they are today. Everyone struggles with mental health issues, diagnosed/treated or not. I’d like to show everyone that it is not only ok and normal to have mental obstacles to overcome, but that these challenges can be met and conquered.
The biggest mental block I’ve had to overcome is one that’s happened recently. After my brother’s sudden death in October, 2011 and my daughter’s near-fatal kidney infection in July, 2012 I’ve developed an anxiety disorder. For me, the biggest step was admitting this to my wife last February. Asking for her help was an important first step in my recovery. I resisted telling her at first because of embarrassment, but now I feel like there is hope because I’m being proactive about seeking and receiving treatment.
My biggest mental block was self-loathing, and at its four corners were perfectionism, insecurity, a sense of unworthiness, and a fear of rejection. I isolated myself for years to avoid finding proof in the world that I wasn’t good enough. It’s only in facing the fear of being seen and judged that I’ve been able to see my own worth and stop judging myself so harshly.
Being hard on myself with internal self-criticism.
When I was a child I suffered from some sort of OCD/Tourette’s/ADHD symptoms. The doctors never came to a final conclusion about what it was. It was scary and I felt very out of place at school and around my friends. The prescription was, “Wait it out. He might grow out of it.” I built some coping mechanisms that helped me mask it from others, but it was always difficult. I did eventually grow out of it, but I sometimes fear it may come back. I would never let it stop me from living a full life, though.
One of the biggest mental blocks that I’ve faced is thinking that I AM my thoughts. So if I had a crazy thought, it meant I was a crazy person. But I’ve now internalized the wisdom that I am not my thoughts. Thoughts are just habits – habits of the mind. And I know how to change habits. :o)
A huge block for me was my extreme self-consciousness. I was living under the impression that the world around me was as focused as intensely on myself as I was — I felt like people were always judging me and evaluating me. The reality is that the people around you, even the people who know you well, think of you only fleetingly, and never judge you as harshly as you judge yourself.
My mental block [was not] realizing that I had a genuine way of helping the people around me. So many people don’t think they have anything to offer to others. I now believe that everyone is an expert at something. We all have some talent or strength or experience that someone else out there in the world would happily pay us for – and thank us for the help! We just have to identify that expertise and the person who really needs the help. As soon as I found that first match was the day the mental block broke down. All it took was hanging my shingle, letting the world know how I wanted to help and then helping that first person.