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“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere” – Frank Clark.

Obstacles are an interesting concept.

Obstacles are inevitable.  And to be honest, unless you’re a psychic you’ll never be able to accurately predict when they’re going to pop up, or what’s going to pan out as a result. Obstacles are ALWAYS surprises.

Sometimes they’re good surprises, sometimes they’re challenging surprises. Imagine just for a moment that you’re driving to the countryside this weekend. Lots of things could take shape; it could start to rain or snow. You might pop a tyre or one of your children could get carsick … because shit happens.

And we have no control over the obstacles that arise.

What we do have control over, is how we react and respond to these obstacles.

We can choose to get flustered and stressed and waste energy lamenting that “this was not part of the plan!!!” or we can use our energy positively to learn, and move forward.

Obstacles are usually accompanied by negative emotions: fear, worry, stress, anxiety, you get the general idea … and for this very reason they are also an opportunity to grow and expand.

I’m not saying that you don’t deserve to get a bit angry or annoyed as you’re sitting by the roadside in the rain waiting for some help to change a tyre (or doing it yourself)  … but later, when you’re calm and reflective, obstacles can provide a vital opportunity to look at the way we handle things … what buttons within us get ‘pushed’ and how we react in certain situations.

I’ll tell you a secret. I use my anger to drive me forward. And I have to say, that since I learnt to channel this energy and use it as fuel I have been able to use it to propel me to do some of my best work!

Isn’t that a good use of a negative emotion? Pretty soon I’m immersed in my work and doing what I love and hey, presto! … I realise that my anger has subsided.

When you feel a powerful emotion, don’t get stuck with it … turn it up (like music) feel it, and dance with it and move forward.

The Worst Human Emotions

Quite often you hear that anger and fear are two of the worst emotions to experience, and of course if you believe them to be, then they will be. But we can also use these powerful energies as a compass too.

Instead of wallowing or allowing an emotion to overwhelm you, explore it. Talk to it; ask it questions, and figure out what it’s trying to tell you. It’s an indicator that something is not ‘well’ within you, or your environment … so get to the bottom of it.

When you allow yourself to be curious in this way, that feeling of being nervous or anxious or confused or worried can lead you to exactly where you want to go or need to go …

When an obstacle arises, you can treat it the very same way. Look at the opportunity being presented to you. What can you learn?

Setbacks are inevitable too, but if you believe that everything happens for us and not to us, you can shift your mindset into solving a problem and finding solutions. Then you will soon become awesome at solving problems!

Successfully Manoeuvre Through Obstacles

If we are able to overcome all of our obstacles then we will learn valuable lessons that require us to achieve, learn and grow as human beings.

There are three types of obstacles that are likely to present along your path and these are personal obstacles that relate to your mindset, behaviour and beliefs, allowing fear to prevent us from moving forward and prohibit effective decision-making.

Then there are social obstacles that relate to others around us – those people who don’t cooperate or sabotage us, or are simply unable to fulfil the responsibilities assigned to them.

And final there are environmental obstacles – those unexpected occurrences like the things that could happen when we’re on our way for that long anticipated weekend getaway in the mountain.

Knowing ourselves and our limitations, knowing others and the skills they have that we can use to help us, and forward planning so that the ‘unexpected’ things have been thought through and have a plan B, are good ways to deal with all three.

Critical and Creative Thinking

Critical and creative thinking involves thinking broadly and deeply using skills, behaviours and dispositions such as reason, logic, resourcefulness, imagination and innovation. Thinking that is productive, purposeful and intentional will increase our learning to become more confident at solving problems.

Have you ever heard of Pareto’s 80/20 principal that suggests that 80 percent of your outcomes come from 20 percent of your inputs?

The important thing to understand is that in your life there are certain activities you do (20 percent) that account for the majority (80 percent) of your happiness and outputs.

When you start to think this way, you can focus on what things are actually within your control and influence and what’s not, and dedicate yourself accordingly.

You’re a limited resource – using this guidance will help you to better plan and manage all the things you do … and that’s important when you’re trying so hard to be the very best version of yourself. Simply put: don’t waste precious time and energy on things that don’t serve you.

Step Back to Move Forward Emotionally

When you are confronted with obstacles, problems and challenges, it’s easy to become a little overwhelmed, especially when the circumstances are unfamiliar and seem a little threatening and urgent. However, no matter what life throws your way, keep in mind that there are always options available, there are always things you can do, actions you can take and decisions you can make that will keep moving you forward in the right direction. Sometimes you just have to step back and give yourself time for the emotion to subside so that you can look at the obstacle, situation or circumstance objectively and figure out practical ways to solve the problem.

When we do this, we’re observing and working from an external perspective, through logic and reason. It’s only once we grasp the circumstances from an intellectual perspective that we begin to identify the true relevance and significance of the events that have taken place.

Because everything happens for a reason!