Welcome back or welcome again to A Nerds Guide to Self Help. This week we will explore overcoming obstacles and the different types of obstacles that may show up in our life. In our last episode we discussed why keeping promises to ourselves is so important and the steps we can take to ensure they are upheld. If you’re new to this blog, I invite you to take a look at how this all started in my very first post. Returning reader? Well, then I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking your precious time to read my work. It means the world to me and I hope it’s helping you along your own personal journey.
Overcoming Obstacles: The First Conflict
The greenish blue hue of the goblins faces, slick with perspiration and noxious odor, charge fiercely at our heroes. Eric the wizard reacts quickly by increasing the intensity of the light coming from the end of his wand. The goblins react by shielding their eyes, stumbling forward, bumping into each other and causing confusion. Elomir, the elvish ranger takes the opportunity and fires off three arrows in succession dropping two of the leading goblins to the floor. Gorn the dwarf and Braun the barbarian charge forward in strength and fury, hacking and slashing with their axe and sword, black ichor spraying on the dusty dungeon walls and carved murals. Eric the wizard hurls a mote of fire from the tip of his wand consuming the face of a distracted and snarling goblin. It shrieks as the flesh melts from its bones.
Caught up in his small victory, Eric never saw the arrow heading for his shoulder. It rips into his skin just below the clavicle. His wand drops to the ground as he grabs his body in pain. Elomir catches Eric as he stumbles backwards and Gorn, seeing his friend hit, lets out a savage cry and doubles his efforts in cleaving down the remaining goblins before him. As Braun slices through the last standing goblin, it’s body falling limp, thudding heavy on the dungeon floor, Elomir is already hard at work removing the arrow from Eric’s shoulder.
The wizard winces as the arrow is pushed out the back, a river of blood seeping from the hole. Elomir closes his eyes and places his hands on the wound. A light seeps subtly from his hands and when he pulls them away, the wound is closed. Only the tear in the wizards robe shows any sign of previous entry. Gorn and Elomir help Eric to stand. The wizard lifts his arm, feeling no pain and places his hands on the shoulders of his two companions. He gives a thankful bow of the head and a squeeze of his hands as the two smile back in turn.
The party turns toward the mass of goblin bodies, many in pieces, with an almost unbearable odor permeating thier surroundings. Braun is already at work, tossing the bodies over, looking for anything useful that may aid them in their journey forward. He shakes his head back toward the group. Nothing. Gorn grips his axe, ready to move forward and Eric takes his first steps back on his feet, feeling inspired to be more vigilant in future encounters. His fear of what may be ahead has lessened somewhat due to the support his companions and he knows that overcoming obstacles doesn’t have to be done alone.
Overcoming Obstacles: Archetypes
What are obstacles? Well that really depends on the context in which you’re using them. There is such a thing as fun obstacles if you’re on a Nickelodeon game show, but in our case we’re talking about the many different obstacles that we come across in our lifetime. Websters Dictionary describes an obstacle as something that impedes progress or achievement. There are many different obstacles, which can take on many different meanings and I couldn’t possibly cover them all, so we’re gonna just look at ones that have impacted me personally.
Before we do this, I should note that I don’t personally believe that all obstacles are bad. In fact, I would go a step further and say that without obstacles in life we wouldn’t grow into full and richly developed humans. We need a little adversity in our lives, it makes us stronger, more willful and creative. So, we will also be exploring some of the good that can come from these obstacles as well as the bad.
In Hinduism, the most widely and celebrated deity is that that of Ganesha. You might have seen him in iconography depicting a man like figure with multiple arms and the head of an elephant. Ganesha is not only known as being the main patron of the arts, but as the god of obstacles. He removes and places obstacles in your path to guide you along your lifetime. The reason I bring this up is to show that for centuries we’ve always seen the benefit of obstacles. Without obstacles there isn’t growth and they can be positive as well as negative.
Some of you may be saying Ganesha isn’t real, there is only Zuel. Well, this is only here as an example of how obstacles have effected us all since ancient times. You’re entitled to your own belief system.
The Mirror Obstacle
What do you see when you look into a mirror? Yourself, I hope. Unless you’re standing in front of a trick mirror or you’re a vampire. That person that is staring back at you is your biggest and greatest obstacle in life. We have a saying in the world of acting, “You have to get out of your own way”. This is pretty much true for everyone. We are our biggest saboteurs. This is an issue that I’ve personally been dealing with ever since I became an artist. Overcoming obstacles, especially when it comes to my own belief in myself is the hardest.
Artists especially continually judge their own work, often with negativity. We come out of an audition, performance, finish a painting or a few pages of a book and say, “Well that was crap”. We second guess ourselves at every turn and it keeps us from living the carefree and creative lives we want to live as artists. Some of the greatest artists of our time unabashedly gave their art to the world. The stories are numerous how literary masters or great thinkers were criticized and panned heavily during their lifetime and they died believing they were failures only to have their works and ideas praised much later.
Living In The Moment
Even now, while I’m writing this blog, there is a part of my brain telling me that what I’m writing is dumb and unimportant. In fact, there is a part of my brain that is always in constant battle with the rest of me. It’s always trying to sabotage my progress and achievements no matter how big or small. The sad thing is, I listen to it more often than I care to admit. It is hard to shut that side of your brain down because it’s there to protect you. It’s the part of the brain that is trying to keep you safe. Safe from failure or ridicule or pain.
You can’t blame that part of the brain. It’s not an evil little devil intentionally trying to sabaotgoge your every step. It’s actually a little angel, probably with glasses and a pocket protector, trying to keep you from falling on your face. The problem is, we want to fall on our faces. It’s how we grow and become stronger people. So, you must find ways to tell that little angel that while what you’re doing may seem dangerous and different, it’s actually a practice that will make your overall health and lifestyle better in the long run. That little angel wants you overcoming obstacles just as much as you do, it just approaches it differently.
Hush Little Baby
That little voice will never stop, but we can make it quieter. How do we do this? Time and patience. When I first set out to get my sleeping schedule where I wanted to, I told myself I’d never be able to get consistent with a 6:30AM wake time, but it happened through time and patience. I just kept at it day to day and eventually that little voice that told me I couldn’t do it became silent and even supportive as it observed the positive effects of that success.
Building routine, which is a big part of what I’ve been doing these past few weeks, is a tool you can use to quiet that little voice in the back of your head. Just remember that the voice is there to help you. It’s only doing its job, which is to protect you from harm. It’s the animalistic and instinctual part of your brain that is keeping you safe. So don’t ridicule it for doing its job. This is a slippery slope, which can have a negative outcome in your path to growth and progress. Be kind to yourself.
Overcoming Obstacles: The Others
The most obvious obstacles that you will have to face in your life are the people in and around it. This can be one of the most daunting obstacles we face because often, these people are out of our control. They aren’t like the little voice in our heads that we can quiet down, well, not without getting some pushback. However, there are steps we can take to make sure we limit the people that are negative obstacles in our life. We will get to the positive ones shortly.
A negative person in your life can reek all sorts of havoc on your progress toward growth and achievement. Overcoming obstacles becomes a lot harder if you have someone constantly telling you that you can’t do it. Everyone has had at least one negative person in their life and I can guarantee your energy is just being suck out of you when you’re around them. Take note of this. It may not be so obvious, but make a list of people in your life who are a continual burden. The obvious ones will be easy, but there are ones that you’ve never quite identified or thought in that way until you really sit and analyze how they have affected you over the years.
Stop The Press
Now wait, before you do anything, you have to weigh each individual against the value they bring to your life. Everyone has negative aspects to them. No one is perfect.
“The Universe doesn’t allow perfection.” – Steven Hawking
Let’s start with the really bad ones or one, depending on how many you’ve listed out. Is there someone in your life who is always a negative influence? Always putting you down, or always complaining, or always encouraging you to go against your life goals? You may want to consider cutting that person out of your life. It can be a hard thing, especially if it’s someone you’ve known for a long time or even a family member.
Take a second before you go taking drastic steps, before you’ve even done your measurements. When analyzing each person you have to take some time with them and yourself in mind. If you’re like me, you’re on a journey of improvement, so your judgement may be faulty.
I have to remind myself that everyone is different and everyone is a product of their own experiences. Before you go cutting a toxic friend from your life, take a second to look at their life and how they came to be the way they are. Perhaps you can open this new line of communication and by helping yourself, help them as well. Have you ever told them they are a negative influence or called them out on their bad sides? You have just as much responsibility in this situation as they do. Perhaps no one has revealed to them their Character Flaw. If you can change, so can they.
Obviously, there are some people who just refuse or won’t change and that’s okay. It’s not your job to change people. If after taking the time with that friend you see it’s a no hope situation, then you should maybe consider limiting your time with them or cutting ties with them altogether. It’s easier said than done and needs to be handled with extreme care and empathy. The last thing you want is to send another down a dangerous spiral because of something you did. Therefore, approach each individual situation with open awareness.
Some people in your life can be positive obstacles to you achieving your goals. Perhaps you’re vying for a new position at your job and it’s between you and another co-worker. You can use that co-worker, who is technically an obstacle to your goal, as a positive driver in getting what you want. Competition is healthy. It gives people drive and makes us work hard. Competition can also be unhealthy. It can alienate us and make us unsympathetic to those around.
Approach this in balance. Make sure when you’re working off a positive obstacle that you’re doing so in a healthy manner. Good sportsmanship is the only way to go. If you win that coveted position, don’t rub it in your co-workers face. Instead, take that opportunity to confront that co-worker and see what plans they had for the position. Include them and build a good rapport and develop that positive teamwork. The Positivity Blog is always a good source for me when I want to find some good feeling perspective on particular topics. When you’re working on overcoming obstacles, just keep in mind everyone else’s process. We all approach things differently.
Overcoming Obstacles: Limitations
We all have limitations. You know what? That’s okay. Some people are just genetically smarter, stronger, more beautiful. We can’t change that. We can only be as good as we can be. I talked about this in my previous positing about The Pit of Excuses. You have to stop trying to be someone else. Can you use someones life as a loose template to success? Of course, but remember you have to find your own path to change and achievement. I’m never going to be as brilliant as Steven Hawking in terms of physics. It’s just not going to happen. I’m not built that way and that’s okay. Even as an artist, as I continue to grow, I’ll come across my own limitations. I can work hard to maximize my skills against those limitations, but they will always be there.
There is no shame in those limitations. We are all wired differently and it’s what makes humans so beautiful. Also, remember everyone is a product of their experiences. Dr. Seltzer talks to us about how we should strive to affirm our limitations. It’s healthy. Malcom Gladwell discusses some fascinating topics in his book Outliers, where he explores highly successful people and how their success depended largely on their early access.
This isn’t meant to deter you. I don’t want you to do what I did and read this book and go, “Oh, so I guess it’s all luck”. That’s not my point. The important thing taken from this read is that the pressure to reach “greatness” should never outweigh the journey in getting there. Remember, success is relative. It’s what you make it. You have the ability to listen to those obstacles and let them slow you down or not. Remember only you can find the path to overcoming obstacles in your own life.
Over the past several weeks I’ve been trying to build a more positive routine to help with my growth as a person along with that little voice in the back of my brain, which tells me I can’t achieve it. It’s been a constant battle, full of failure and success and obstacles, both positive and negative. I battle in overcoming obstacles. As I sit it here and write this, it’s becoming easier to tell you how over the past couple of weeks, I’ve fallen completely off the routine I was working so hard to build. In the past I would have beaten myself up and fallen into depression over my failure, but I can honestly say that I feel okay about it. Why? Because I looked at the positive obstacle which was put into my path rather than viewing it as a negative step backwards.
We had a big shakeup at my place of residence due to the current pandemic and it presented me with an opportunity to finally have an office of my own. After twelve years of living in New York City, I’ll finally be able to separate my work space from my living space. For those of you who don’t live in a large city, this is a highly sought after and often impossible perk to acquire.
Therefore, I went to work making the new office space as comfortable and inspirational as I possibly could to ensure I only do my best work while in there. It consumed me. The planning, the designing, the logistics of it caused me to fall completely off my routine. This was a positive obstacle for me, because I was taking the time and care to organize my space for future success and productivity. I was investing in a different part of my life, which is a part of my personal growth. Now, could I have been able to do that and keep my routine? Sure, but I didn’t, and rather than feeling like a failure in that aspect of my growth, I’m using that positive turn to fuel my desire to pick up where I left off.
Regrouping & Onward
I won’t be adding a new piece of routine for this next week, but re-solidifying my previous routine. If you’re new and want to review what I’ve been working on you can start with my first post and see the progression of the routine I’m attempting to build. I’m taking short steps to self improvement. You have to set your own pace and listen to your body. Change is hard, but even harder if you try to force it. Positive change takes time and patience.
Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I hope the things I’m saying are giving you perspective and perhaps helping you in your own journey. Remember, your personal dungeon is your own. It’s unique to you and what works for me, may not work for you. If you’re looking to change, take stock of yourself and work out a plan that makes sense for you. If you like what you’ve read, please like and subscribe below. I also highly encourage you to share with friends or family and to leave comments. As always, please keep all comments positive and constructive. We are all in this together.