If you stay attached to these 10 things, you won’t move forward in life (according to psychology)

There’s a profound difference between holding on and moving forward.

This distinction is often overlooked. We all have things we cling to – habits, beliefs, or even people, not realizing they might be weighing us down.

According to psychology, there are specific things that, if we stay attached to them, can hinder our progress in life.

Here are 10 things that you might be unknowingly clinging to that are preventing you from moving forward.

Let’s dive in and discover what these are.

1) Living in the past

We all have a history. It might be full of beautiful memories, harsh lessons, or things we wish we could erase.

But no matter what your past looks like, it’s essential to remember that it’s just that – the past.

Many of us have a tendency to dwell on past events. We replay scenarios over and over, clinging to old hurts, and obsessing over “what ifs”. This attachment to the past can be incredibly limiting.

It’s like what renowned psychologist Carl Jung said, “I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.”

This quote reminds us that our past doesn’t define us. Our choices in the present do.

If you want to move forward in life, let go of your past. Learn from it, but do not let it dictate your present or your future.

2) Fear of change

Change is inevitable. It’s the only constant thing in life, yet many of us are terrified by it. I know I was.

I remember when I was offered a new job opportunity in a different city. I was excited, but also scared. I’d have to leave my friends, my familiar surroundings, my comfort zone. My fear of change almost made me say no.

But then, I remembered a quote from psychologist Abraham Maslow, who once said, “In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.”

That quote made me realize that change, though scary, is often the path to growth. So, I took the job and moved cities. It was challenging, but it also led to some of the most enriching experiences of my life.

If you’re clinging to the familiar because you’re afraid of change, you might be holding yourself back.

Growth is often on the other side of fear. Let go and step into the unknown. You never know where it might lead you.

3) Perfectionism

Perfectionism can be a real hindrance. Trust me, I know. For the longest time, I was a perfectionist. I thought that everything I did had to be perfect. It was exhausting, and I was never satisfied.

Perfectionism is not about striving for excellence or improvement. It’s about setting unattainable standards for oneself and then feeling inadequate when those standards are not met.

Psychologist Brené Brown said it best: “Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best… Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfectly, look perfectly, and act perfectly, we can avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame.”

When we attach ourselves to perfectionism, we set ourselves up for disappointment. We miss out on opportunities because we’re too afraid to make mistakes.

Give yourself permission to be imperfect. It’s okay to make mistakes; that’s how we grow and learn. 

4) Negative self-talk

We all have an internal dialogue. It’s the voice in our head that narrates our life, our actions, and our thoughts. Unfortunately, for many of us, this voice is often overly critical.

I can recall countless times when I’ve beaten myself up over small mistakes or talked myself out of opportunities because I didn’t think I was good enough.

This negative self-talk can be incredibly damaging. When we consistently tell ourselves we’re not good enough, we start to believe it.

Psychologist Albert Ellis once said, “The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.”

Negative self-talk is a problem that we create for ourselves. Once we recognize this, we can work on replacing these harsh words with positive affirmations and self-compassion.

5) The need to always be right

This one might seem a bit counterintuitive. After all, who doesn’t want to be right? But the truth is, clinging to the need to always be right can severely limit our growth.

I used to be one of those people who would argue a point until I was blue in the face, just to prove I was right. But over time, I realized that this need was doing me more harm than good.

It’s okay to be wrong. It’s okay to not know everything. Admitting this doesn’t make us weak; it makes us human.

Famed psychologist Carl Rogers said, “The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.”

This quote emphasizes the importance of being open to new information and willing to change our views when presented with new evidence.

6) Living with a bloated ego

This is a tricky one. We all have an ego. It’s a part of who we are. But when the ego gets too big, it can start to cloud our judgement and limit our growth.

I’ve been there. I’ve let my ego get the better of me, causing me to make decisions that were more about preserving my image than doing what was right. And let me tell you, it’s not a good place to be.

In my book, Hidden Secrets of Buddhism: How To Live With Maximum Impact and Minimum Ego, I delve deeper into this topic. I talk about how living with a bloated ego can create a barrier between us and the world around us.

Buddhism teaches us to let go of our ego, to see ourselves as part of a larger whole rather than the center of the universe.

It’s not about diminishing our self-worth, but about realizing that we are not superior or inferior to anyone else.

Letting go of a bloated ego can be liberating. It allows us to connect more deeply with others and opens up new opportunities for growth.

7) Fear of failure

Throughout my life, the fear of failure has been a constant companion. Whether it was in academics, sports, or my career, I’ve often been gripped by the fear of not measuring up or messing up.

But over time, I’ve learned that this fear can be incredibly limiting.

We’re so afraid of failing that we don’t take risks. We refuse to step out of our comfort zone, and we miss out on countless opportunities.

Embracing the words of psychologist Carol Dweck, who said, “Effort is one of those things that give meaning to life. Effort means you care about something, that something is important to you and you are willing to work for it.”

Failure isn’t the end of the world; it’s a stepping stone towards success.

8) Attachment to comfort zones

Comfort zones are, well, comfortable. They’re familiar, safe, and easy. But they’re also incredibly limiting.

I know how tempting it is to stay within the confines of what we know and where we feel safe. I’ve been there myself. But I’ve also learned that real growth happens when we step out of our comfort zones.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow once said, “One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”

Staying attached to your comfort zone means choosing safety over growth. It means choosing stagnation over progress.

9) Resistance to self-care

It might seem odd, but many of us resist self-care. We’re so caught up in our busy schedules, in meeting deadlines and fulfilling obligations, that we forget to take care of ourselves.

I’ve been guilty of this too. Thinking that taking time for myself was selfish or a waste of time. But I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Self-care is not indulgent; it’s essential. It’s about taking care of our physical, emotional, and mental health so that we can perform at our best.

Resisting self-care can lead to burnout and stress, which can halt our progress. So let go of this resistance and prioritize self-care. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup. To move forward in life, we first need to take care of ourselves.

10) Avoidance of emotions

I’ve always been one to bottle up my feelings. I thought it was easier to avoid them, to put on a brave face and keep going. But I’ve since learned that avoidance is not the answer.

Emotions, even the uncomfortable ones, are a natural part of life. They’re a signal that something needs our attention.

As psychologist Susan David said, “Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.”

Avoiding emotions only leads to more discomfort in the long run. Instead, we need to acknowledge and accept our feelings, and use them as a guide to understand ourselves better.

So let go of the tendency to avoid emotions. Embrace them, learn from them, and use them as a stepping stone to move forward in life.


Moving forward in life often requires us to let go of things that are holding us back. Whether it’s dwelling on past mistakes, living with a bloated ego, or over-planning, these attachments can keep us stuck in a cycle of stagnation.

The key is to recognize these habits and work towards letting them go. It’s not always easy, but the rewards are well worth it.

If you’re interested in diving deeper into this topic, I invite you to check out my book, Hidden Secrets of Buddhism: How To Live With Maximum Impact and Minimum Ego. It delves into these points and more, offering practical guidance on how to live a life of growth and progress.

Remember, progress is a journey, not a destination. Every step you take towards letting go of these attachments is a step towards a more fulfilling and meaningful life. So start today. You’ve got this.

Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

People who didn’t grow up with a supportive family usually display these 7 behaviors as adults

People who stay mentally sharp in their retirement usually display these 8 behaviors