Does Hesitation Hold You Back from Truly Engaging with Life?

Hesitant when asked to do something?  Always want to know what’s going to happen–when, where, how long, and who’s going to be there?  Cautious?  Wary?  Unable to wholly trust others?

Yes, and of course. With all the chaos around us as children, caution and being slow-to-trust makes complete and utter, not-your-fault, 100% sense.

In his book Homecoming, John Bradshaw wrote the following, which I suspect will resonate with you as much as it resonates with me (thanks Kenny!):

“One final note. One way adult children avoid their legitimate suffering is by staying in their heads. This involves obsessing about things, analyzing, discussing, reading, and spending lots of energy in trying to figure things out. There is a story about a room with two doors. Each door has a sign on it. One says HEAVEN; the other says LECTURE ON HEAVEN. All the co-dependent adult children are lined up in front of the door that says LECTURE ON HEAVEN! Adult children have a great need to figure things out because their parents were unpredictable adult children themselves. Sometimes they parented you as adults; sometimes they parented you as wounded and selfish children. Sometimes they were in their addictions, sometimes not. What resulted was confusion and unpredictability. Someone once said that growing up in a dysfunctional family is like “getting to a movie in the middle and never understanding the plot.” Someone else described it as “growing up in a concentration camp.” This unpredictability caused your continual need to figure things out. And until you heal the past, you will continue to try to figure it out. Staying in one’s head is also an ego defense. By obsessing on things, one does not have to feel. To feel anything is to tap in to the immense reservoir of frozen feelings that are bound by your wounded child’s toxic shame.” – John Bradshaw

The antidote?  Spontaneity. Taking action — any action, small actions. For one, write in a journal every day.  Write down your thoughts before you fully think them so that you don’t hesitate yourself out of writing them down.

When you’re wondering if you’re caught in self-sabotage, it might be worth asking yourself if the situation is actually over-thinking at work. Stopping before you even get started; you’re watching your mind’s slide show of What If scenarios, and it paralyses your inner motor.  Over-thinking and getting stuck in one’s mind can also manifest as commitment issues — commitment means action, and action is unusually threatening for people working to become adults in adulthood.

Here is Bradshaw’s book on GoogleBooks.

Or you can buy Bradshaw’s book Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child on

Be kind to yourself.


  1. Carol W says:

    Once again you’ve hit me where I live, in a good way. I have been noticing recently my body telling me I need to do, act, get out of my head. I hadn’t related it to adult child issues, but of course it is. Your recent posts have been so timely and have led me to much needed places. Thank you.

  2. Kristen says:

    Thank you for this. When I talk about overthinking, it often gets translated as “ruminating,” obsessing about things that have happened in the past. Not that I don’t do that sometimes, but more often it’s trying to work out every possible scenario going forward before I take action. My mother was not an addict, but probably suffered from a personality disorder and I have a lot of shame and trust issues from childhood I’m working on. I’m definitely going to check out this book.

  3. Jane Eichner says:

    Yeah, I know how to think, but I’m still learning how to feel.

  4. Jessica says:

    Crap, this is exactly me.

  5. kathythesane says:

    Wow, thanks for the Bradshaw link. Will take a look at the book. Will also Tweet your blog.

    • Amy Eden says:

      It’s a classic, enjoy the book! (Well, “enjoy,” you know…in a deep, sometimes painful, and Ah-Ha moments kind of way…)

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