Let’s face it, obstacles are a part of life and none of us have the playbook on how to overcome them. As ideal as it may sound, dodging obstacles isn’t possible; although you can learn how to work with the energy that creates them and overcome the notion that you are somehow at their mercy. Let’s first identify what obstacles are, why it’s important to overcome them, and where they might trip you up.
An obstacle is anything that gets in your way of achieving your goals and living the life you truly desire. Obstacles present themselves the moment you set your sights on something you want.
Think about this: Have you ever been interested in someone romantically and then you just gave up without making your first move for fear of making a fool of yourself? What about the area of well-being? Do you ever find yourself wanting to make healthier food choices only to be derailed when the waiter brings the dessert menu featuring a warm chocolate lava cake? Or, maybe you hit the snooze button a few times too many and you keep missing your window of opportunity for exercising before work. These are just a few of the typical, day-to-day obstacles that can throw you off track and out of whack.
Why is overcoming obstacles important? Obstacles derail you. They keep you stuck in the past by preventing you from taking action. They root you in fear, convincing you that you aren’t good enough, you don’t know enough, you don’t have enough time or money, and you’re out of options. If you don’t learn how to overcome obstacles, you run the risk of being ruled by them.
In many cases, obstacles are physical or blatantly obvious, whereas some are non-physical and less discernable. In some ways they can show up as limiting beliefs you have about yourself or others, and on some days they appear as other people or circumstances preventing you from being, doing, or having the things you want. Obstacles show up in many forms and are experienced throughout the energetic (spiritual), mental, emotional, and physical bodies.
Energetic obstacles are things that give you the feeling of being depleted or exhausted all the time. They show up as day-to-day choices that you are making in your life that lead to an imbalance in energy output versus energy input.
Spending 75 percent of your time working and leaving very little energy to put toward healthy nutrition, exercise, or down time will result in lethargy, complacency, or total burnout. Many of us tend to give more than we receive and at some point, the inequality will take its toll.
Try the following exercise to help you overcome energetic obstacles:
- Spend some time looking at the areas in your life where there is a lack of harmony.
- Make a list of the things you are doing that you are giving too much of your time and energy. Jot down an approximate percentage of time you spend for each.
- Look at the areas of life or things you do that give you more energy and indicate an approximate percentage of time you spend doing these things.
- At the end, see where you can minimize things that take away from your energy levels and increase things that give you more energy.
Mental obstacles often revolve around a lack of goals, motivation, or focus. If you don’t have a goal, you don’t have any direction. It’s near impossible to get to where you’re going if you have no idea where it is you want to be.
Another mental obstacle is absence of motivation. Motivation requires a level of passion in order to sustain forward movement toward the goal. If there is no motivation, mental obstacles will show up in the form of resistance and excuses.
An inability to stay focused on the end result can be a huge obstacle. “Chasing squirrels” in your mind—another term for being easily distracted—is a common theme for many people as we live in a world where multi-tasking has become glorified. When you’re scattered and not able to maintain your focus, you start to spin out and are easily thrown into overwhelm.
Emotional obstacles show up most frequently in the form of daily stressors: irritation toward other people, limiting beliefs about your own self-worth, thoughts around your inability to accomplish certain things, and negative emotions based on past experiences.
Not taking enough down time to become present to—and experience—love, joy, gratitude, and happiness in your daily life may leave you ambiguously feeling as though life itself is the obstacle.
Mental and emotional obstacles are where we tend to point the finger outward, blaming other people or circumstances for the way things are rather than taking responsibility for our choices.
Physical obstacles tend to show up as a lack of time or money, behavior patterns, and physiological responses. For example, if you are someone who struggles with managing your time effectively, you will have difficulty getting things done in an efficient manner—if at all. If you aren’t in a financial bracket that supports your needs and goals, this will show up as a very real challenge for you.
Sudden illness and injury experienced in the physical body are obstacles that can temporarily throw you off course. If you’re not quick to heal—mentally or physically—it may derail you for months or even years. In other cases, obstacles may show up as behavioral choices like sleeping in because you feel energetically, mentally, or emotionally exhausted.
Guided Meditation for Overcoming Obstacles
Depending on how you deal with the obstacles that present themselves will determine the frequency and intensity of which you experience them. Following is a guided meditation for helping you to overcome obstacles in any area of your life. As you move through each self-reflection question, allow yourself a minute or two for contemplation.
- Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
- Begin to take slow deep breaths, in and out through your nose.
- Allow your shoulders to relax and your torso to soften with every exhale.
- Bring into your awareness an area of your life where an obstacle is present.
- Think about when, where, and how this obstacle began.
- Ask yourself who or what triggers the problem. What thoughts and emotions are prevalent when the obstacle is present?
- Now bring your attention to the cost of this obstacle. How does it affect your ability to be, do and have the things you want in life? How does it affect those around you?
- Next, see what can be available to you if you overcome this obstacle and are able to move powerfully forward in your life.
- Consider anyone you know who has already overcome this kind of obstacle. Who was it? What approach did they take?
- Now think about how you might do things differently than the way you have been up to this point, perhaps including some approaches others have taken.
- Next, invite in an intention for a creative solution to come forth. Ask your Self or the Universe for guidance in how best to navigate and overcome this obstacle.
- And now, imagine your life as if the obstacle was dissolved and you are now standing in the life you have created by design.
- After you have a positive internal representation (an image, sound, or feeling) of being free from this obstacle, spend a few moments in quiet contemplation before slowly coming out of your meditation.
Upon coming out of your meditation, you may want to jot down any thoughts into a notebook or journal so that you have some tangible details to then turn into actionable steps. It’s important to take a compassionate approach to this process and really allow yourself to feel into your emotions, listening for your internal guidance to bring forth the insight you need.
Remember, obstacles are the opportunities that have been put on your path to challenge you to move beyond your perceived limitations. Identifying them is just the first step in creating lasting change in your life. The follow-through and taking action to overcome them is where the real gold is.
Expand your meditation practice and join Deepak Chopra and our Chopra Center educators at our gateway meditation retreat, Weekend Within. At this relaxing retreat, you are invited to create a healthier lifestyle, reduce stress, and explore the benefits of meditation and yoga. Click here to learn more.