7 Destructive Mistakes that Keep You Stagnant and Stuck in Stress 

by | Sep 26, 2023

Do you feel stressed most of the time? Have you tried to make progress but it’s too slow or non-existent? If you said yes, you’re likely making mistakes that hinder your progress. These mistakes can be like dead-end roads that keep you stuck. This is where you barely see any progress and question whether it’s even possible to create the changes you want to see. This is true whether you want to feel better and enjoy more of your life, or if you want to progress in a specific professional goal that you have.

That’s why in this blog we’ll cover 7 common mistakes that hold you back from creating the positive changes you want to make in your life.

I invite you to go through each point and see which may apply to you. Awareness is always the first step to creating positive change. This will allow you to take the right steps to see faster results and give you a major boost towards the life you want to create.

1. Not taking responsibility for what you want

Without being the active ingredient for change in your own life you will always be at the mercy of other people, situations, or your past. But let me be very clear here that this is not about taking responsibility for what’s happened to you, or other people’s wrong-doings, and certainly not about punishing yourself for your possible mistakes or shortcomings. Taking responsibility in your own life is about taking your power back by where you place your focus. More specifically, putting your focus on who you choose to be and how you choose to respond. This way you’re not letting situations and other people dictate how you feel and how you behave. You want to make sure that your full focus is on you and what you want to create in your life. Who you choose to be and how you respond in any situation should be in line with what you want to create in your life. Blaming others is a dead end road that only leaves you angry, bitter, hopeless, and further from what you want in your life.

But the good news is that you have the power to alter your focus back onto you. When you take full responsibility for who you choose to be and for what you want to create in your life, you take your power back. Now you put your energy where it matters – towards the things that you can control and towards what will move you forward.

2. Taking setbacks as failure

I had a tough time with this for a long time. I’d take setbacks, failures, and people saying “no” to me personally. I’d take it that they were saying no to me. Or that somehow that setback I had meant that thing that I so deeply wanted (ie., happiness, number of clients, relationship, etc) wasn’t meant for me. And this view only held me back. The truth is none of it is personal. Life and progress is just messy business.

We often think that progress and success looks like a linear line, when in fact it’s a lot messier than that. It has ups and downs, twists and turns. The truth is that whatever you try, even if it appears as failure, will always move you forward – That is, as long as you’re choosing to learn from it and move forward. This applies to any goal that you set.

The breakthroughs and the magic in life happens when you learn to use your setbacks as opportunities to grow, learn deeper, and reach higher levels. The happiest and the most successful people out there have setbacks and take on this mental approach. They look at where they want to go and use the mistakes, the “no”s, and the challenges as guides to keep moving forward. So remember that setbacks are a normal part of progress. They are not personal, they do not indicate failure, but instead are the natural process of growth.

3. Doing the same thing and expecting different results

It was Albert Einstein that said “we cannot solve our problems with the same way of thinking that created them”. This isn’t necessarily about adopting new knowledge, but more about a complete shift in thinking and approaching situations. If you think and operate in the same overall way, you will get the same overall results.

For example, if you don’t want to be stressed, but you’re starting your day stressed, stressfully making money, and stressing about your social commitments, you’re conditioning yourself for stress. This is much like exercising your “stress” muscles and building stronger and stronger neural connections for being stressed. The way that you think now, the way you live your life now, and the habits that you’re building now, is practice for what more will come in the future.

If you’re looking to see a major shift in your personal or professional life, whether that’s in how you feel, in your career, or in your relationships, it will require you to think differently and do things differently at this moment. Your mindset, who you are, and what you do need to match what you want. If they don’t, change is very unlikely and you’ll get the same overall results.

4. I’m too damaged or broken

If you can relate to this point, I know that you’re in a hard place and going through a lot right now. I have so much love and compassion for you. I know you have a lot of valid reasons for why you think this about yourself. But I invite you to seriously question this belief. This is because the concept of “I’m damaged” or “broken” is simply not true. It’s an analogy we’ve created to describe how terrible we feel, yet it’s completely disempowering and undermines your inherent strength and amazingness.

I’m going to use a drastic demonstration here to help you see what I mean. If I were to cut you open right now, will everything be there? A heart, lungs, your bones, etc. Most people will say yes. Now, even if your bones are broken, can they heal? If not, can we have the help of doctors and technology to fix it? If your heart is broken or your spirit is broken, I challenge you to show me. You cannot, because it’s not tangible. It’s a metaphor we use to describe how we feel. Your true essence, who you are, is so much more than your physical body and can never be broken. If the person you loved the most was going through what you’re going through right now, would you call them damaged or broken? I think most of us agree that we would never do this. Just like them, you have an inherent worth and deeper essence that can never be taken away.

There is no such thing as being damaged or broken. Let go of this belief and adopt a more empowering one about yourself that serves you. For example, if you’ve had a really tough life, let that be an indication of your strength, rather than your weakness. If you’re struggling emotionally or financially in your business, let that be a sign of your courage to keep trying (or to leave). What empowering story can you believe about yourself that will serve you towards having the life that you want?

5. Focusing on the problem rather than your goal

Have you ever tried to hit a target (whether at a soccer game, playing volleyball, hitting a bow and arrow, you get the idea!) and looked in the complete opposite direction in order to successfully hit the target? I bet you don’t do that, do you? This is because that’s not how our brain works. We know that if we want to hit a target, we have to put our focus on where the target is. Otherwise, we have little to no chance of success.

Similarly, you have to keep your eye on the target (what you want), not on the problem (the challenge, or what you don’t want). Many of us make this mistake because of the “negativity bias” of our brain that takes over. When we’re stressed, our brain makes it difficult to focus on anything but the problem. This is why it’s so important to intentionally guide our focus back to the target. Otherwise, we get lost in the things we don’t want, with very little chance of hitting our target.

6. Beating yourself up

This is by far the number one problem I see that holds people back from making the kind of progress they want to see. There is a big misconception that beating yourself up and treating yourself harshly, especially when you’re not doing well, is motivating and something you need to do if you want to succeed in life. This could not be further from the truth. Although harsh self-criticism and negative self-talk can be effective to some level, there is a ceiling effect and you will not be able to get past a certain point. Plus, it has many negative consequences for your mental health and happiness. It will make the process of reaching any goal you set harder and more painful than it has to be. This is because of the additional stress it creates which often transfers to your career and relationships too.

Once you learn to support yourself instead of criticize, you’ll see how much more pleasant and easier reaching your goals becomes. There’s enough challenges in the world, don’t let yourself be one of them. You can either be your own greatest enemy, or your own biggest ally. Which one do you choose?

7. I have to do it on my own

Doing things on your own is the slowest and most painful way towards progress. This is true for any goal that you set. I know this because I’ve done the lone-wolf self-improvement and entrepreneurship myself. Comparing it to the progress I’ve made after I decided to get support really puts things into perspective for me. And I hope it will motivate you to see the benefits that it can have in your life.

While independence and self-reliance are valuable traits, recognizing and using the power of collaboration when needed can help you make faster and bigger progress. We all have blind spots and these are the areas that often hold us back from making the kind of gains we want. We’re often afraid of what other people will think of us, or to be seen as weak, or have too much pride to take the smarter and more efficient road to progress. The good news is that getting the right support will exponentially propel you in the right direction.

Now that you’re more familiar with some of the destructive mistakes that can hold you back from getting the kind of results you want, it’s time to take steps to correct them. I invite you to identify what areas you’re doing well, and what areas you’d like to improve in. If you want to read more on the essential requirements you need to create change, click here.


There are a few destructive mistakes that can hold us back from making progress. They are usually limiting beliefs that hinder our growth and keep us stuck. This is true whether you want to feel better and enjoy more of your life, or you want to progress in your professional goals. But the good news is that becoming aware of them, and consciously adopting more constructive ways of approaching our situation can break the pattern of slow progress or previous failed attempts. Correcting these mistakes will have you making massive progress.

Leyla Bagheri
Leyla Bagheri
Founder of LB Well-Being Performance Inc.
Well-Being and Performance Coach
Psychology Research Advisor

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