Confronting Life’s Obstacle Illusions

Written by on February 2, 2021 in Self-Awareness, Self-Determination

Obstacle Illusions

Whether real or imagined (as they often are), obstacle illusions can be as elusive as misty fog, but they will stop you in your tracks as surely as any brick wall.

They sap your confidence, stifle your ability to find the best possible solutions to problems, and frustrate your attempts to grow and achieve dreams and goals.

It may be perceived lack of skill or resources, fear of change, or the false internal narrative you’ve been telling yourself about the person you are capable of becoming.

Your limiting beliefs will define you if you let them.

Self-awareness plays a critical role in revealing obstacle illusions and overcoming our self-defeating beliefs.

Following are a few of the most common behavioral patterns to provide you with a starting point. See if any of these sound familiar.

Behaviors That Foster Obstacle Illusions

We Pretend Not to Know

One of the most common forms of illusion is denial.

We pretend we don’t know there’s a problem, and when it becomes so obvious we have to acknowledge it, we pretend we don’t know what to do about it.

Just to be clear, there’s a big difference between being ignorant and pretending not to know.

Something can easily be done about the former; the latter serves as a convenient excuse to hide behind.

After all, if we don’t know we can’t take responsibility for doing anything about it, so when the proverbial shoe finally hits the floor we have no choice but to fulfill our role as hapless victims and accept things the way they are.

Is there something you are pretending not to know?

  • Are you tolerating a situation or relationship because you’ve convinced yourself you have no choice?
  • Is there something you need to do … and keep avoiding?
  • Are you ignoring … stomach pain, a difficult conversation, signs that your partner may be cheating?

It is true that once you admit you know then you have to face it and all of the responsibility and pain that goes with it, but you cannot change or improve what you will not confront.

We Cling to Faulty Beliefs

The dictionary defines “belief” as acceptance of and conviction in the truth.

But what if the belief you hold about who you are is based on faulty assumptions or outright lies?

Our personal beliefs are colored by layers of experiences, perceptions, attitudes, and desires, meaning that they are based on our personal interpretation of reality.

If you believe that you are limited or lacking in some way, regardless of any proof you may have to the contrary, that belief becomes your truth and you will behave in a way that validates your perception of reality.

Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?

  • I’m not good enough.
  • Why get my hopes up just to fail – again?!
  • I don’t have the right equipment or experience (enough money, education, connections, etc.)
  • I’m not lucky – I have never been lucky.
  • I’m too busy just surviving to think about dreams and goals.

The danger is that we often chalk faulty beliefs up to common sense, and even the slightest stumble serves to validate that we were right all along.

Then we wonder why we can never seem to get ahead!

The only way to override these beliefs is to be willing to make the effort to become more self-aware. Start paying attention to your self-talk, your fear triggers, and resistant points to begin clarifying how you honestly see yourself.

We Resist Flexible Thinking

It’s so tempting to keep doing the same things, in the same way, we’ve always done them without taking the time to see if there might be a better approach.

While familiarity can save time, it can also leave you feeling stuck if the way you’ve always done things doesn’t happen to work with the current situation you’re facing.

Flexible thinking is embracing the belief that there is more than one way to reach a destination, solve a problem or achieve a goal.

It’s not the same as going with the flow. Going with the flow is accepting a situation as meant to be.

Flexible thinking is acknowledging the unpredictability of life, keeping your mind open, and viewing a new and unfamiliar challenge as an opportunity for growth rather than an immovable obstacle.

We Shield Ourselves From Fear

It is amazing all of the different types of armor we use to shield ourselves from fear and vulnerability.

For example, to avoid the risk of failure, you might rely on an endless list of excuses to keep from trying new things or finishing what you start.

Those who fear rejection or being abandoned often use people-pleasing behavior or establish themselves as the unending “victim” to make it harder to leave or ignore them.

Simply saying you’re just being realistic, or waiting for the right time or circumstances is an effective catch-all shield for avoiding all sorts of risks. It’s our brain’s way of trying to protect us from feeling exposed and vulnerable.

Each time you choose to confront instead of avoiding your fears, take a courageous stand, or accept responsibility, you’ll grow a little more confident, a little more fearless, and a little more resilient to life’s challenges.

We Don’t Know What We Want

We are a quick-fix – want it now, do it now, move on to the next thing – society, which is why the path of least resistance is so crowded.

Whether you’re solving a problem or pursuing a goal if you want to achieve an outcome that will truly benefit your life the first step is to decide what you want.

Not just to get through the day or to make the pain and discomfort go away, but for the life you desire to create for yourself.

The Takeaway

Obstacle illusions are the product of self-limiting beliefs we have about what we are capable of doing, becoming, or having in life.

No matter what path you take there will always be challenges, some of it won’t be fair, and a lot of it won’t be of your own making.

Regardless of their nature, what matters is that the obstacles you encounter will have only as much power as you give to them.

This means whether these experiences stop you in your tracks or show you the way forward will always be up to you.

Related reading:
Will you be the passenger or the driver in your life journey?
About Marquita A. Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, pathfinder, and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies, and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living Start Here.

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