Turning Obstacles into Opportunity

When an energy or obstacle appears, it can often spread rapidly to take over a person’s occupied space. If you were looking at a person in a snapshot, this would look like a big thumb coming into the picture. So much so that the person in the picture would have little room to stand upright any longer.

When obstacles come, the lesson is in knowing how to understand, manage, and maneuver around them. Many people let the obstacle pin them and just hope that it will recede or retreat on its own before too long. Too often, they lay there pliantly in a kind of depression and denial. Then there are those who get pinned but rebel and become angry, but nevertheless remain pinned. The third group crawls out and runs away as fast as they can, as though they just escaped an encounter with an ornery grizzly bear. They don’t wish to stay to contemplate the situation. Fear motivates them to run as fast and as far as they can. The forth group crawls out, looks back at the obstacle with some perspective and decides how they want to proceed. They determine what the obstacle is before they decide to stay or move away.

In observing, the trick is to calm the natural instinct of fight, freeze, or flight, until you can get to a point where you choose to do none of those but to merely observe and realize that through a considered approach, you can manage obstacles in a much more positive way. In many instances, the prudent thing is to move away from the obstacle and not to engage in a battle. Fighting rarely brings about understanding or the opportunity for change. A resisting energy draws a counter-resisting energy. An attacking energy draws a counter-attacking energy. At the point when you can understand the nature of energy and combine that with the observation of the nature of the obstacle, the solution often becomes evident.

But people commonly jump to conclusions and assumptions about what an obstacle is, along with its cause and probable solution, based on memory and a panic response. It is seldom based on being in the now, with attention to the moment-to-moment collection of information and energy.

Q: But when there’s an overpowering urge to flee, shouldn’t one pay attention to that?

Yes, if you are clear in body and mind, and your instinct wants to get your feet moving, then move your feet. The purpose of instinct is to preserve your survival. But if you’re confusing instinct and fear, then you will never really be clear on what the motivator is that makes you run away.

To learn the difference, start with the small things in your life that cause the urge to run. Instead of running, make yourself stand and face the person, place, or thing. Then find your inner center by deep breathing and remaining present, and see if you can first determine what this thing is that you believe you’re running from, and second, why your body is feeding you the message to run.

Very often you’ll find that it’s a childhood fear, or a memory fear not pertinent to the present situation. Overcoming small fears in manageable ways will give you the feedback and the skills required to face larger fears. At times, it’s advisable to move on because the obstacle really is signaling the end of a cycle. But rarely does it require running.

Q: I’m wondering why you’re choosing to share this topic with us?

That most people are not helped to understand the nature of obstacles is a weakness in humanity. Obstacles frequently serve a very important positive role to be used as indicators in the navigation of your particular destiny. There are always indicators. But when you are not paying attention, alarms can be ringing all over the place, and you will find excuses why you cannot pay attention to the alarms until they become common-place background noise. Then they no longer serve the function they were meant to serve. This is just about learning how to manage obstacles in a more efficient and less painful way.

Obstacles are like mountains on the horizon. In almost all cases, you will see them looming in the distance for quite awhile before you’ll stand face-to-face with them. The task for most people is to learn to stop denying what they know, and not to allow wishful thinking that the obstacle isn’t there, isn’t happening, won’t influence what they’re trying to do. Most people’s reaction is to act surprised and to feel greatly put upon when they actually do face an obstacle that’s been looming. This usually only happens after the obstacle has inserted itself to an undeniable extent. By paying attention to the horizon, to the signals, or whatever metaphor you want to use, you have plenty of time to adjust, change course, make decisions, get alternative plans ready. The main thing is to realize that an obstacle presents a great opportunity to evaluate what you want and where you’re going. It does not have to be a negative experience anymore than climbing up a hill to see a beautiful view would be a negative experience. It’s all in the reaction of the observer.

Q: Those people who are able to stand up from an obstacle, move around it, take a look at it, and then consciously act, what is it about those people that makes them able to do this?

They have an innate sense of self-trust and a natural curiosity. They have a deep belief in themselves that they can do anything they set their minds to, so there is no reason to be afraid of an obstacle because it doesn’t have the power to prevent them from getting where they want to go. It may influence their course, but it won’t prevent them. It’s also very likely that there was some mentor along the way that showed them how to deal with obstacles in a positive way.

Help your children learn early to be good navigators through life’s obstacles by teaching them problem solving skills in a way that makes it fun for them to figure out not just one solution but several different solutions to the same problem. Get excited and enthusiastic when your child does see a solution to a problem, until the child internalizes for himself that problem solving is fun. Teach them to look for problems to solve in the way that someone doing a crossword puzzle enjoys finding the words. It’s not stressful, it’s enjoyable with the right attitude and skills.

Teach your children self-sufficiency by not always providing answers. Sometimes pose further questions. When the child comes and says, “Will you do this for me?” Suggest instead, “Let’s do it together.” Don’t force a child before she’s ready because that creates fear. Instead, stand next to your child and let her do the bulk of the problem solving, with you there to pitch in occasionally. Over time, the child will rely on you less and less, until the child is doing all of the problem solving. Notice whenever children do solve a problem on their own, and comment on that. Not in an exaggerated way, but just an acknowledgement: “I see you figured that out for yourself.” The trick is not to rush in and do for the child or force the child to always do for him/herself, but to strike a balance.

To go back to obstacles, if people communicated more openly with each other, they’d get the added benefit of someone else’s observation about the obstacles ahead. Often the people around us are filled with additional perceptions and information about our lives that we have no access to because we don’t ask. It doesn’t mean that other people’s observations are always accurate, but they’re always helpful to give the fuller picture. Just as you are glad to have your rear and side view mirrors while driving, be happy to ask trusted friends their perception of your life and what you’re doing. Let them be your driving mirrors through life. It’ll be a safer, easier journey.

Scroll to Top