paint oneself into a corner

Get oneself into a difficulty from which one can't extricate oneself. For example, By volunteering to do more work in the office and then taking a freelance job, George has painted himself into a corner. This idiom uses the graphic image of painting all of the floor except for the corner one stands in, so that one cannot leave without stepping on wet paint.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.