When Mountainous Obstacles Look Like a Dead End

Are you searching for yourself? Is your life missing something? When mountainous obstacles look like a dead end, it seems as if every little thing you want or need is stamped with a big red CAN’T.

You need a vacation but can’t afford it. You hate your job, but can’t quit because you have a mortgage to pay. You dreamed of being a dancer but can’t because you are too short. You want to travel the world, but can’t because you are afraid to fly. Or you just want a pair of glasses but can’t because you don’t have the money.

Image of two street signs against green treetops and blue sky. One sign reads wrong way, the other reads one way. Mountainous Obstacles look like Dead End--blog post by Lynette M. Burrows

You watch or read enviously about someone who has ‘made it.’ They achieved their dream. Why them and not you? You feel like a Martian. Someone who doesn’t fit in the hole that has become your life. 

It’s not that you don’t love your family. Maybe you even like your job. But the bills take every damn penny. How’s a person supposed to get by, much less chase dreams?

There are lots of reasons why you can’t do something. Maybe you had a bad childhood. Perhaps you married too soon, you need a new car, you aren’t smart enough, you are afraid of hurting yourself. There are hurricanes and typhoons and power outages and life-threatening illness. There bills to pay and a short paycheck or unexpected expenses.

Life gets messy and throws an obstacle (or two or three) in your way. When you’re on the wrong side of that obstacle it looks like the biggest damn mountain on the planet. All you can think about is how the heck do you get through the next twenty-four hours. You feel stuck, that life’s just thrown too much at you for one person, one family to endure.

Image of a no exit sign below which is a series of arrows that form an endless circle illustrate Mountainous Obstacles look like Dead End--blog post by Lynette M. Burrows

You’re in Survival Mode

You are trying so hard to survive you and are so focused on that obstacle, on trying to get through the next hour, the next twenty-four hours, that you lose your focus on everything else. You ignore what you need. If you ignore it long enough you forget it was what you wanted, or you get frustrated and throw everything away so you can start over. Only to find yourself in the same old rut, the same hole dug by can’t.

Remember the old adage “can’t never did anything and never will?” Yup. That’s where you are. It’s hard to see past can’t when the obstacle looks mountainous.

The Mind Gives Up Easily

Don’t allow your mind to tell your heart what to do. The mind gives up easily.

Paulo Coelho

Look at your situation honestly. Is there something choice you made that brought you here? A choice you need to learn from? No, not to blame yourself. To recognize that mistakes were made and to learn so that mistake doesn’t happen again.

The reality is that you will not be able to wave the wand of decision and be a brain surgeon tomorrow. You probably won’t win the lottery. But that still doesn’t mean you’re stuck and powerless to change.

Get Unstuck

Dr. Joe Luciani says that when we feel powerless there are three things we should tell ourselves over and over like a mantra. 

1. I will let life unfold. There are obstacles but no dead ends.

2. I trust that my instincts and intuition will serve me.

3. Every problem has a solution, and sometimes I have to wait for an answer.

Of those three statements “there are obstacles but no dead ends” may be the most important one. It goes to your mindset. Obstacles are real but they don’t have to be insurmountable. They don’t have to determine how happy you are.

Create Yourself

George Bernard Shaw said, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” In other words, you create your opportunities. You take responsibility for making choices that carry you forward, toward your goal. How do you do that? Take a step back and a step sideways. 

Have a conversation with yourself. Write it down (or record it). Ask yourself questions. What would happen if I asked for help? If I lost my job tomorrow what would I need to do to get by? What would it take for me to move to Europe? How can I afford to take that race car driving course? What if I did something instead of giving up?

Do not allow yourself a single, “I can’t” or “I should” in this conversation with yourself. Make it happen. In this conversation, nothing is impossible. If I quit my job tomorrow I’d have to figure out where to live. I’d have to give up my daily latte at my favorite coffee shop. I could take a ship instead of a plane. Write down the possibilities. If some of the steps seem too big, too much, too abrupt, break it down into smaller steps. 

Can Do List

Now you have a list of things you CAN do. And you have a choice. So reality says you won’t be a prima ballerina or a world champion race car driver. Reality doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t enjoy trying. Live with gusto. Take lessons. Sing in the shower. Sing for friends and family. Go to the speedway, drive a race car. You _can_ quit that dreadful job because there are alternatives you can pursue. But only you can create the person you want to be.

photograph  of a wooden walkway through a green forest illustrates Mountainous Obstacles look like Dead End--blog post by Lynette M. Burrows
Find a way to step around your obstacles. Photo by Bryan Rodriguez on Unsplash

Create yourself. Take a step back and step sideways. And please, share with us the steps you have taken or will take in creating the life you want to live.

This post is adapted from the original post, “Create Yourself,” published on Samantha Warren’s blog on February 21, 2012

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