Well, if it can be thought, it can be done, a problem can be overcome E.A. Bucchianeri

Obstacles are what turn simple things we want to do into difficult things. Obstacles can be caused by external forces, like time and money, or by internal ones, like our own habits and fears. They require us to change, and that is universally something that human beings struggle with and resist. It is always helpful to remember this well-worn axiom: If it was easy, you would have done it by now.

Here are my ideas on strategies to help overcome obstacles. As you read through them, you may want to consider how you might use them to challenge your thinking, your assumptions and your fears. Think of a real life situation you are involved with, and see if these approaches can help you expand your options and create new solutions.

Strategy One: Asking Good Questions

Here are some questions that might help identify external obstacles:

What makes this so hard to get done?

What might I need that I haven’t had in order to reach this goal?

If I identify one primary obstacle and can conquer it that would make all the difference in reaching my goal what would it be?

When I have tried in the past to overcome this, what got in my way?

Here are some questions to help clients internal obstacles:

When I think about making this change, what kind of feeling, physical sensation, or other reaction do I have?

Even though I really want to make this change, what do I gain by staying stuck and not changing?

Relax for a moment and pay attention to what is going on inside my body as I consider the obstacle; where do I feel the pressure or stress from this situation?

Not that I know for sure, but just take a guess: What is the critical voice in me saying about making this change in my life?

Strategy Two: Engaging Imagery and the Power of Imagination

Imagine that the obstacle is gone, and I am free to act in a new way to attain the desired future I want.

Let’s imagine that the obstacle no longer impacts me  it has been completely taken care of and is gone how does that change things for me ? How does that make me feel now that I am no longer held back from using my personal power? What dreams or goals might I now pursue?

This strategy is related to act as if. Acting as if I am competent in the face of an obstacle requires me to suspend beliefs and fears associated with it, and to see, even if only for a brief period, how that feels. The insights gained from a taste of success can be revealing and the feeling of empowerment can be highly motivating.

Strategy Three: Learning from the Past

By reflecting on their past successes, you can build courage, and self confidence; I encourage you to see that previous obstacles were overcome when they took certain risks or actions that could be duplicated with present challenges. Think back and reflect on their past actions in this way:

Think of a time when I faced the fear of failure and chose to move ahead anyways, and succeeded  maybe even to my surprise or to the surprise of others. What specifically did I do?

When I am struggling earlier in my life and overcame an obstacle blocking my path, what was the turning point for me? How can I apply that learning to this current challenge I face?

Strategy Four: Facing the Fear and Taking a Baby Step

Obstacles have the greatest power over us when we let them live in darkness, unexamined, and unchallenged. By bringing them into the daylight, giving them a name and talking about them, they lose the power to control us. Face fear by asking:

What is it about this obstacle that makes me the most afraid? What’s the thing I am most afraid will happen?

If I were to give my fear a name, what would I call it?

Strategy Five: Changing the Perspective

Gain a new perspective by trying to see the Big Picture, by using emotional detachment, by seeing circumstances through a different lens, and by building the assurance to act with confidence. Asking questions such as these:

What will this look like to me in ten years? What will seem the most important part of this challenge to me then?

Think about the importance of this obstacle in relation to my health, family, and spiritual growth. How important is this in the overall scheme of things?

What if this obstacle were placed in my life to prepare me for what I am born to do; how would that change my perspective on it?

How is my response to this obstacle affecting my family and friends?

If you had all the time, money and resources to overcome this obstacle, how would it change your perspective?

As you can glean from these strategies, once we become aware of what is really holding us back and how we participate in that self-limiting process, we are then free to change and that freedom leads to more freedom. Something gives in us, fortune smiles on us and luck, providence or coincidences happen as if a dam has broken, and our authentic life comes rushing to meet us. The choice is always ours: to feed our attention to our obstacles or to feed our attention to our desire for happiness in life. The first will bring us more obstacles; the other brings us the courage to change.