7 Things That Hold You Back In Life And Limit Your Potential

There is a well-known custom in the native tribes of Africa. When any of them want to catch a monkey, they create a hole in a tree or rock. The hole is big enough for the monkey’s hand but not too small for its clenched fist. Then, they fill the hole with peanuts. Once the monkey is lured through the bait, it enters its hand inside the hole to get the peanuts. 

When it finally goes on to grab them, it ends up getting its hand stuck. It starts panicking, twisting, and turning its hand. But it never lets go of the peanuts – the only thing holding it back.

More often than not in life, you are the monkey.

You allow yourself to foster things that hold you back in life. You hold on to toxic relationships, unhealthy job environments, habits, behaviors, thoughts, and fears that hold you back. You refuse to realize you can move on to bigger and better things once you let off these metaphorical peanuts. 

Believe it or not, the habits, behaviors, and thoughts you accumulate over time have the power to define your life. If you have limiting beliefs, they will restrict you from achieving your full potential. 

Therefore, it is imperative to understand and identify the things that hold you back in life. Identifying the fear that holds you back is the first step toward getting rid of it. 

To help you get started, we have done the groundwork.

In this post, we will dive deeper into what things hold you back from your true potential. Let’s get started. 

things that hold you back

7 Biggest Things That Are Holding You Back In Life

1. Constant Need To Fit In

We are humans. And while we have evolved over thousands of years, we are still creatures that extensively crave social connections

Back then, we feared fitting into a community because the other members would just whack us out if we didn’t. Not being a community member meant a sure-shot death sentence in those days.

But even today, we are still stuck in the same toxic circle of fitting in. If you are someone who has tried to hop onto the latest trends, modify your thoughts and beliefs, or feel the much-talked-about FOMO, you are not alone. 

However, this unhealthy need to fit in is one of the biggest things holding you back in life. Sure, you need a supportive group of people to flourish in life; you don’t necessarily need to please or be liked by everyone around you.

If you keep getting stuck in the process of trying to please people, you are never going to be able to do something that you really want. This fear holds you back in life and restricts you from personal and professional growth.

2. Staying confined to your comfort zone

We all have our safe spaces – an environment, a particular trajectory of thoughts, or something that makes you feel comforted. A comfort zone makes you feel that things are alright and nothing needs to change, and sometimes, this becomes one of the things holding you back in life. 

The very thought of stepping out of your comfort zone might make you extremely anxious and stressed out. This fear holds you back from making the right decisions that might sound a little daunting at the moment. It paralyzes you and restricts you from acting at the right moment.

While it’s always easier to fall back on your safe cushion than try something new and feel outright lost, it is important to cross this comfort zone. Sometimes, your comfort zone limits your potential and ability to achieve more. You become more accepting of whatever you get because you don’t want to lose your safety net, and you learn to settle for us. 

However, your potential is limitless, pal. And it is about time you take a step toward the life you truly deserve.

3. Fear Of Failure

Fear of failure is one of the most common fears that hold you back. It literally haunts each move you make in life and restricts you from taking risky but fulfilling steps forward. It gets so extreme that people condition themselves not to try anything new because they fear being labeled a failure. 

What this self-limiting fear of failure doesn’t tell you is that failure is the only way to learn. You learn by messing things up, making mistakes, destroying, and then completely recreating stuff. The most successful people in the world are the ones who have fought a courageous battle against such failures. 

Therefore, it is important that you try new things, mess up, and learn in the process. Do not let your fear of failure become one of the things that hold you back in life.

4. Waiting for that ‘perfect’ time 

A famous quote from the book Uncertainty says, “You kill the dream when you kill the butterflies.” 

And this exactly describes the next fear in our list of things that are holding you back in life. 

If you are waiting for that ‘one perfect day’ to turn around your life, write that exam, apply for that job, ask out the person you love, or whatever  – here’s some bad news for you. It is never going to happen.

While it is okay to be prepared, if you are stuck in the rut of waiting for the right time, trust us that it is one of the biggest things that hold you back because you are literally losing out on so much in life. 

Wherever you try to do something new, you are bound to experience discomfort and nervousness. And when that happens, you get cold feet and ultimately quit. 

If you are one of those people, here’s something that we want you to know – when you get nervous before doing something new, it is because that thing matters to you. Learn to embrace this feeling of discomfort. Try to understand your feelings and take the plunge. Don’t keep waiting until you have eliminated all risk factors because there’s always going to be something. 

Simply put, be brave. Take those small steps. You will be fine, pal.

5. Other people and your relationships

Right here, we are not talking about things but legit people holding you back in life. 


There are toxic people and toxic environments who discourage and pull you down. And since these people are so close to you, you put too much on their opinions. We tend to immerse ourselves so deeply in their idea of who we are that we forget ourselves. 

Apart from those close to you, some people try to constantly push you into societal obligations and ideas of who you should be. These are the people who put undue pressure on you if their opinions don’t match with yours. 

Therefore, other people and your toxic relationships can easily become some of the biggest things that hold you back in life.

6. Overly apologetic attitude

Do you find yourself saying ‘sorry’ all the time, even if the said situation is no fault of yours? 

If yes, that can be one of the tendencies and fears that hold you back. Saying sorry, accepting your fault even if it isn’t, and constantly taking the blame for situations make you believe you are at fault. It reduces your self-confidence and gives others around you the impression that you are weak. Moreover, being too forthcoming to take the blame means you allow more people to put that burden on you.

This self-limiting belief is a tendency that stems from a lack of self-belief. You constantly value yourself in the amount of blame you can carry. You are always on the lookout for your faults and, therefore, are ready with a ‘sorry’ for something you might mess up in the future.

While letting go of these things that hold you back is challenging, it is important to realize that your apologies do not define your worth. It is determined by how much you can help people around you understand their mistakes and help them rectify them. 

7. Being closed-minded toward new ideas, people, and cultures.

In the list of what things hold you back, another prominent one is being closed-minded. This means being unreceptive toward new ideas, opinions, people, and cultures.

This is one of the biggest things that holds you back at a time when the world is more polarised than ever. We are currently fighting an ideological war and have never been as divided on religious, political, social, and economic issues

Social media has made the situation even more dire by reinforcing our rigid ideas and beliefs through thought bubbles and echo chambers. We refuse to give chances to people from the other side of the spectrum.

This way, you end up restricting your knowledge. You can learn every day, yet you choose to close your mind and continue believing in what you want. While having confidence in your beliefs is great, you must always try to listen and read things that challenge these perspectives. This gives you the ability to fight your own stereotypes and prejudices.


We create several habits, beliefs, ideas, and fears for ourselves throughout our lives. Sometimes, these thoughts and behaviors morph into things that hold you back in life and limit your potential. 

Getting rid of things that hold you back in life is tough. This is because they are so ingrained and internalized within us through social conditioning and personal stereotypes. However, understanding and identifying them is the first step toward letting go of things that hold you back in life. 

We hope this list of what holds you back will help you figure out your personal self-limiting thoughts and behaviors and help you grow out of them eventually.

Looking for inspiration for self-improvement. To find the best self-improvement podcasts to help you let off toxic and limiting mindsets, click here.

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