Are We Creating the Obstacles From Which Fear Is Born?

· September 17, 2017

Sometimes doubts, insecurities, fears, or anxieties prevent us from moving forward when confronted with failure. These little fears are the ones which become big obstacles in our paths towards what we really want. With them, we do nothing but trip and obsess over the idea that we are going to fail no matter what we do.

This makes us obsess over the rocks we might find along the road ahead. We do this instead of recognizing the distance we have already traveled. It makes us think more about the threats which might show up than about the possibilities before us. We let ourselves get carried away by our insecurities, when we should be focused on our strengths.

We are our biggest threat in the achievement of our goals.

In his wonderful story entitled “Obstacles”, Jorge Bucay talks about this mania we have of harming ourselves. I hope you enjoy this story and reflect upon it.

butterfly tied to rock

Obstacles, a tale by Jorge Bucay

I’m walking down a path, letting my feet guide me.

I look at the trees, the birds and the stones. The silhouette of a city appears on the horizon. I sharpen my gaze to distinguish it better. The city is calling me, I can feel it.

Without even knowing how, I realize that everything I desire is in this city. All of my goals, my objectives and my achievements. Both my ambitions and my dreams are in this city. What I want to achieve, what I need, what I would like to be the most. What I aspire to, or what I attempt, what I work for, what I always wanted, and my greatest future achievement.

I imagine that all of that is in that city. Without hesitation, I start walking towards it. Shortly after, the path becomes steep and starts heading uphill. I get a little tired, but I don’t give it any importance.


I keep walking. Then, I see a black shadow further down the road. As I approach it, I see a huge ditch which blocks my passage. I am scared… doubts emerge. I get angry, because I cannot reach my goal in a simple way. Ultimately, I decide to jump over the ditch anyway. I take a step back, grab some impulse and then jump… and I make it. I get myself together and keep walking.

girl walking through a city

And the obstacles keep coming…

A few meters ahead, another ditch appears. Again, I run and jump over it. I run towards the city. The road seems to be clear. I’m surprised when an abyss stops my way. I stop. It is impossible to jump over it.

I see that on one side of the path there are wood, nails and tools. I realize they are there so that I may build a bridge. I’ve never been skilled with my hands… I consider giving up. Yet, I take a look at the goal I long for… and I resist.

I start building the bridge. Hours, or days or months pass. The bridge is done. Excited, I cross it. And when I reach the other side… I discover the wall. A gigantic cold and wet wall surrounds the city of my dreams…

I feel miserable… and look for a way to avoid it. There is no point. I must climb it. The city is so close… and I will not let the wall block my passage.

With drive, I intend to climb it. After resting for a few minutes, I take a deep breath… Suddenly, on the side of the road, I see a child who is looking at me as if he knows me. He smiles at me with complicity.

He reminds me of myself… of me, when I was a child.

Perhaps that is why I encourage myself to express my complaint aloud: “Why are there so many obstacles between me and my goal?

The boy shrugs and says, “Why are you asking me?”

“The obstacles were not here before your arrival… You brought the obstacles with you.”

girl with a house on her head

Why do we create obstacles for ourselves?

We place obstacles in our own paths when we obsess over thinking about all of the bad things that could happen. We also create obstacles when we think about the dark side of a possible future. A future which is improbable, but which we make more real with every thought. Also, when fear overwhelms us and our doubts are so powerful that the only thing they produce is anxiety.

We must keep in mind that we all stumble in life. But only the ones who surrender, even before starting down a certain path, are the ones defeated by their obstacles.

In certain way, we create obstacles as protection against a possible failure. They are our excuse, the “you see? I told you” when our worst fears are confirmed. When we fall along the road or fail to conquer the challenge with our first attempt.

Uncertainty as a creator of obstacles

We may also place obstacles for ourselves, because we’re afraid of uncertainty. We’re afraid of what is to come in the next step towards our destiny. This way, we prefer to shelter ourselves in the shadow of a known evil instead of seeking the good we have yet to get to know. We become cowards, defeated by our own imagination. It is our ideas which become obstacles in our path, preventing our passage.

Therefore, we must get our minds used to looking out for the positive side of reality. Triumph is assured for us when we put in the effort, either by learning or by pursuing our goals. On the other hand, if we stumble again, we must look for the beauty hidden behind each shadow, behind each obstacle. Because, just like seasons, people have the ability to change. Let’s remember that in this life, those who fight and strive survive. Unlike those who look at everything ahead with fear.

And above all, we should not doubt our abilities. Live life as you deserve to live it, because we all stumble. Yet, it is not the stumbling which marks our lives, but the lessons we get from it. Keep walking, and when you are in front of the abyss ask yourself: Did you create that chasm and place it there by flooding your journey with doubts?  And now, are you going to complain about the obstacles you put in your own life? Or are you going to walk steady and fearlessly, always fighting for what you want?