There is a popular saying that refers to obstacles as being something you see when you have taken your mind off the goal. Yet the path to any goal would not unfold its true potential unless there were obstacles to strengthen us along the way.

We tend to enjoy things that come to us easily. Our desire for a total life of ease is one of the dreams many people share and say they would opt for if they could. Fear rises when we find ourselves in a lowly position, in a state of poverty or unable to secure symbols of a more luxurious life. Yet we can and do manage well without all the fancy things we crave.

When we get into a state of heightened emotion because something is too hard to face we may opt to avoid the work required and slip into a phase of decline. To lift ourselves out of it we need the kind of intelligence that can act from a place of compassion, not sentimentality or self-pity.

A rock or stone does not suddenly appear in the pathway of flowing water. If a rock is obstructing the flow of water then the stream has to build up enough strength to pass over it.

Our task is to do the same in relationships and other areas – build inner strength and resilience to be able to face and flow over obstructions and increase momentum.

If you find your actions seem to go in a stop/start way then look at your perception of obstacles. Perhaps they stop you dead in your tracks and you sink down and retreat.

Asking others for help when we know we are not up to a task is a good way to develop strength. As we recognise a force in another person we help the same quality to increase in ourselves. Working in pairs or in a team creates trust and can bring relief when facing an obstacle. Support of this kind can bring healthy connection.  To remain alone while hoping such obstacles will go away or wishing they weren’t there is to misunderstand the purpose of spiritual development.

Knowing that you do not ‘have what it takes’ just now is not an admission of weakness. You want to be able to help yourself but right now need to rely on the pillar of strength that comes from another. This is not dependency, but development.

Share your vision with another person and they may be able to shed light on how it can be implemented. Each of us has a different skill set and perception of the way things work. When we meet someone whose vision or experience seems to be broader than ours we can ask for their view instead of feeling intimidated or overwhelmed by their accomplishments. When we create the opportunity to have a mentor then we know we are not retreating from the ‘rock’ that blocks the water from flowing but preparing to approach it more strongly next time.

Some of us may find that as we push forward we meet with one obstacle after the other. It is possible to create obstacles in order to remain in a safety zone. We may be afraid to leave people behind or to follow our dream. Clinging to obstacles is a way to never have to overcome them and mature. Yet most people who have become stronger and more powerful after overcoming an obstacle would not want to turn back again.

Simplify your life.

The fewer balls you have to juggle the more likely you are to succeed at the skill. Decide which goals to keep in play.

Obstacles can be built from the inside when we compromise our own personal values. For instance, if we try to ingratiate ourselves with someone else to get ahead, it may look like things are improving. Still, a niggling feeling underlies the arrangement and we don’t receive the recognition or respect we may have expected. This is how advance changes to decline in the I Ching – when personal values are violated.

Build up the correct strength to make a move so you don’t undermine a future advance. If you have undermined yourself with others you have a double obstacle to overcome – the first is to re-establish your own values for yourself and the second is to remind others of what those values are. That is when you may recognise your simple obstacle has become an inhibition.

If you believe you have some self-created obstacles then ask yourself what purpose they serve and what qualities they build in you. Your obstacles serve a powerful purpose and can be positive markers on the journey towards important goals.

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