As a Spiritual Teacher, one of my jobs is to assist my students in identifying what blocks they have to moving forward, and then helping them figure out how to blast through them, remove them and overcome them!
In light of this, I decided to write the top seven most common blocks that everyone experiences at some point on their path. These blocks can seem intimidating, but they are NOT insurmountable and sometimes, just naming them can help us prepare for them and do wonders for reducing their impact.
1. Belief that there is something else that will provide happiness faster and perhaps easier other than working on your own inner self.
This is probably the first order of discussion when a new student begins with me. Probably everyone can relate to the desires of having money, a fulfilling career, a great relationship and having children. These are generally the top four desires. Most people believe that if these four areas of their life were fulfilled, they would achieve happiness. Even when people have all four, if they see they are still not happy they believe that perhaps they just did it wrong, or just did not quite get enough!
The truth is that happiness is an experience inside of us, not outside of us. Even when we can believe this intellectually, it is still so difficult to shift our attention to our inner being and inner healing. All of us continue to run and jump and try so hard to get more, more, more of whatever it is we think we are missing!
How I explain this to people is pretty easy to understand, but not pretty. Our world is full of pain, darkness and things that are more horrible that we can imagine. This is just the simple truth. We have murder, rape, theft, child prostitution, torture, not to mention the devastating consequences of war. If finding love, happiness and enlightenment was as easy as getting the right job, having children and obtaining money . . . the world would be enlightened. You may have noticed – it is not.
Once people truly take this in, this wall evaporates. But then, others reveal themselves!
2. Fear of being an outcast.
It is interesting the thoughts and fears that immediately come up as we begin a path of true inner change, and also interesting how common they can be. Fear of being different is one of these blocks.
There is a point, where people have the experience that if they change, really change, they might be someone their friends and family will no longer want to know. This could be as simple as being afraid of being successful, fearing that all of your friends will be jealous of you. It could be as complex as being afraid that as your grow and heal, you will become so distant from the type of person that you know, that they will simply no longer relate to you. The final fear in this area is being afraid of becoming so different that the entirety of society itself will outcast you and not accept who you have become. Loneliness is not something anyone generally likes to feel, and neither is being labeled a weirdo!
Here, I explain how love can cross any distance, seal any divides, heal all separations and of course, connect to any heart. Love is the center of the spiritual path I teach. As your heart opens, you actually feel more connected, more understanding, less judgmental and all the things that make us eager to feel our oneness.
3. Fear of the unknown. Being complacent.
This block is simple. It just might be better to stay where you are, than to be somewhere that perhaps, might be worse, and since you are not there, you just cannot know.
This block can only be overcome when the fear of staying forever where you are, is bigger than the fear of exploring unknown territory. Only then, will you move forward. It really is a simple mathematical equation. Each day, you can measure where you are by asking yourself, ‘What percentage me is afraid of moving forward?‘ When the answer is less than 50%, you will MOVE!
4. Fear of losing one’s identity.
I actually spoke about this in an earlier blog. It does merit talking about again, because it is a fear that most people cannot guess they may confront, or, should I say, may confront them. We have no idea how deeply we are attached to the ‘description’ of who it is we think we are.
Even if those descriptions are ones that we don’t like, we fear losing them. We might think we are weak, or have an addictive personality, or that we are selfish, or too loud, or maybe too quiet. We might hate our lives they way it is, but when we get the chance to change it for real, permanently, we are afraid to lose the ways we identify ourselves.
We actually don’t even know the detailed ingredients of our identity, until we begin to want to heal. The experience we have, is that if those things we don’t even like about ourselves change, then, who will we be? This is really a scary question. Because being something we are not happy with, is better than being nothing at all!
This fear is one that can only be overcome through your determined movement forward. Each time a movement forward happens, and you still exist, it becomes less frightening and easier to master.
5. Fear of pain.
Fear of pain is the biggest, most general and ongoing fear that most humans experience. It can be paralyzing. The list of things we fear will cause pain is endless, but I will try to cover some of the main ones here.
One big fear is of persecution. The path of awakening at times feels like you are turning around and moving in the exact opposite direction of everyone else on the planet. Our history gives us powerful examples of good people that were persecuted, so we feel we have proof of this possibly happening to us, if we stand out in any way.
For some, emotional pain is much more frightening than physical pain. Some of the more feared emotions are rejection, jealousy, loss and betrayal. Any one of these feelings can stop us dead in our tracks.
We also fear the pain of seeing and experiencing our own darkness; the parts of us that we are not proud of and would rather believe do not exist. In the face of seeing our own negativity, we begin to lose our edge of saying we are better than anyone else, and we are afraid of being in a weaker position.
I give many tools and practices that make it not only possible to overcome our pain, but you learn to heal your pain as well. They include ways to release pain, strengthen your entire being in order to face life more fearlessly, and learning how to know exactly what is happening to you, so you know what you are dealing with.
6. Belief that you are too weak or powerless to change your life.
Once most people make a deep decision to grow and heal, they begin to experience a perception that makes them feel they are ‘too weak’ or ‘too powerless’. Too weak to change, too weak to face their fears, to overcome addictions, to be more powerful than their negative thoughts.
This also implies that ‘others’ are controlling your life, your happiness, etc. From this position you cannot imagine that you could possibly experience the life of your dreams.
When your mind takes a particular position it will make monumental efforts to prove itself. So, it makes sense that you can begin a campaign to prove your strength! Each day you can list all of your accomplishments, every time you exhibited your power. If that is not enough, ask your friends for feedback. Then, remember your list every day, write it, speak it and believe it!
I included apathy and boredom, because this is a very real sensation that you may experience in your efforts to heal. The sensation is that you just don’t care. Nothing matters, good or bad.
However, apathy and boredom are just reactive and protective mechanisms that cover and can hide our fear of pain.
In order to overcome it, you may have to investigate what you are so afraid of that you became numb.