Feeling your way through an obstacle

Often we are hindered in our progress by an obstacle of some kind. Obstacles come in all kinds of forms, which can make it difficult to identify what has gone wrong. Indirect methods for understanding the obstacle are needed to help us plan how to adapt to that obstacle.

Blindfolded person running a race tied to a sighted person
Unseen challenges can tether us.

If we can’t easily directly identify what that obstacle is, then we need to know how to  indirectly learn about the obstacle. This is where the idea of Feeling the obstacle comes in.


Identify what feeling is attached to the obstacle that is hindering you – you are probably feeling frustrated that you are not progressing, but that is secondary to how you feel about the thing that is stopping you. Often fear is attached to the obstacle we can’t identify, or sadness or some other primary feeling.

Missing Step

Identify what point in the obstacle is in your plan. If you know the step preceding where the obstacle is, it makes it easier to identify what is supposed to come next, which facilitates you to identify what the obstruction is. It could be a person, a resource, knowledge or yourself.

Analyse and plan

Combine the emotion you have identified with the missing step to help get a sense of the shape of the obstacle. If you have identified what it is and how you feel about it, you can now start to create a plan to overcome this obstacle.

Sometimes the thing we identify is a symptom of a more complex obstacle which may need a bigger solution.

If you are still stuck, it may be time to call in an expert. Talk through with someone you trust – a friend or therapist – where you got up to, what the wanted outcome is and where you got stuck. Brainstorm what it may be that is stalling your progress and ways to get past it.