When the only real barrier is yourself

by Jay Hiller, August 29, 2022

A barrier illustrated by a purple brick wall shows how we can sometimes place obstacles in front of ourselves
It might seem like there’s an insurmountable obstacle to what you want. What if the only barrier is yourself?
Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

Someone I know used to dream that there was a door in her house she couldn’t go past. She was afraid of this barrier and in her dream she avoided the door, though she knew it was there. A few weeks after she left an unhappy relationship she dreamed the door was open and the rooms behind it were great.

Have you ever noticed when you’re foam rolling that it’s possible to roll everywhere but the exact spot where pressure is needed? Have you ever made a long list of household tasks that need to be completed (and you have absolutely no intention of doing) before you start work on a project that would be meaningful to you? Our minds and bodies are good at knowing what we think is going to hurt or frighten us and throw up barriers so that we don’t have to face that pain or fear. Self-imposed barriers are hard to recognize. Once I do recognize them I’m not always sure how to proceed. Here are some things that I’ve found worth trying:

  • Consistency is important. Practicing what you want to do on a regular basis will get you far, whether it’s in the area of fitness or for something else. If we put the hours in, we’ll see results. Perhaps those results won’t be what we expected. Perhaps they’ll be better.
  • Is there part of the problem you can solve? I mentioned in a previous post, that forearm balances freak me out. The reason they freak me out is because I don’t like my face so close to the floor. I’m dealing with that barrier by practicing dolphin a lot, which puts me in a similar position as forearm balance.
  • Make the barrier irrelevant by immersing yourself in it. Practitioners of SUP yoga know that the way to rid yourself of fear of falling, which can be a deep anxiety, is to get into the water and get wet before you even start your practice. Not easy to do. As an instructor I’ve found that many people would rather be afraid than be cold for 30 seconds or get their hair wet. In my own practice, I find when I skip the getting wet step, I don’t take chances and my practice is less interesting.
  • Find someone to help you look at the barrier objectively. A fresh pair of eyes is always useful.

I wrote about a related issue, the artificial set point, a few days ago. The link to that is here:

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