Home Personal development Facing Obstacles – 10 steps to help you manage your emotions and surge forward

Facing Obstacles – 10 steps to help you manage your emotions and surge forward

by Vidya Sury April 7, 2020 6 comments
Facing Obstacles 10 steps to manage your emotions and surge forward

Life’s journey is seldom smooth. Facing obstacles is a given. Otherwise, how will we emerge stronger and more confident?

Some of the best life lessons I’ve absorbed are from people who’ve been through all kinds of difficulties to get where they are. Also, you have to admit that if everything goes according to routine, it is pretty boring, right? If we don’t have “downs” in life, how will we even recognize the “ups”?

Sure, facing obstacles is not fun. It throws us off our game. It overwhelms us. And of course, we feel emotionally battered and lose our focus.

And who likes facing obstacles? I don’t know anyone who would consciously seek them. Makes sense, right? After all, when we’ve set ourselves goals that we want to accomplish, the last thing we need is something standing in the way. Obstacles bring us to a standstill and hold us back from getting where we want to go. They slow down the momentum we’ve painstakingly built up.

There are situations when they can actually become roadblocks making us wonder if we’ll ever get past them.

What is one to do? Might as well call it a day and call it quits, right?


My Mom always suggested that obstacles may not always be as bad as we think they are. For all we know, maybe the obstacles we’re facing right now might hold the solution to the problem we’re trying to solve. I’ve found this true on many occasions. Too easy to give up. Hard to persist.

Facing Obstacles

Now, picture this: You think you’re facing obstacles. What if it were actually an opportunity? What if your emotions were holding you back, making you see the obstacle s a stopping point instead of a beginning?

For example, right now we’re quarantined at home due to the pandemic. We might thing we’re facing obstacles. What if we saw it as a chance to make some positive changes and do things more efficiently? Treat it as a temporary new normal?

Oh, by the way, there’s an interesting story in The Washington Post that Sir Isaac Newton actually discovered gravity during a pandemic while working from home. Perfect example of turning obstacles into opportunities.

So, let’s rethink facing obstacles.

Here are ten steps to enable you to manage your emotions as you get into the frame of mind to embrace those obstacles, see the hidden opportunities and travel the road less taken!

Facing Obstacles 10 steps to manage emotions

10 steps to manage your emotions when facing obstacles

1.  Pause

When facing obstacles, the first thing to do is stop whatever you are doing. Pause. Give yourself time to take stock, look at your options. It is absolutely natural to freak out, but don’t let your emotions get the better of you. You don’t want to act on impulse and regret it later.


  • Take a deep breath. Or two.
  • Identify the emotions you are feeling.
  • Allow them to reach a state of calm.
  • Realizing that you are sad/angry/frustrated will help you get to the place of calm faster, as you addressed each emotion.

For instance, ask yourself why you are angry. If you are sad, accept the feeling as a natural part of the disappointment of facing obstacles, keeping you from reaching your goal.

Yes, it is challenging, but please don’t rush through the feeling or suppress it. Use this setback to embrace your emotion, whatever it is. Accept it. Own it. Feel it.  Once it settles, you are ready to move ahead.

This step may take maybe an hour, a week—depending on the size of the goal and the obstacle.

2.  Accept Where You Are

Look, obstacles happen. If you fight them, they look worse than they are. Rather like quicksand. Ever notice how, the longer someone caught in it fights, the deeper they get pulled in? yes.

So, take a minute to tell yourself that what you are going through is natural and a healthy part of the process. Your emotions are legit and real. It is where you are right now—but it is temporary. This too shall pass.

3.  Flip the Switch

Once you accept and acknowledge your emotions, choose to let them go. It is now time to switch to the logical side of your brain that’s wise and experienced. It is where you’ll process what you are going through and look at your options.

Now take a step back and view the obstacle from an outsider’s perspective. See it objectively. What can you see? Question your assumptions to find the solution.

4.     Get Creative

Be flexible and start looking at the alternatives. Be as creative as you can and don’t write off anything as too silly. Sometimes it is those silly ideas that actually lead you down the right path. You may go through some disappointment at this point because you probably already had your path planned out.  But when you look at the new possibilities, you can get excited about a fresh start. Use this energy to take you to the next step.

5.  Embrace the Lesson

Obstacles are opportunities with life lessons.

Reflect on these:

  • What did you learn from this particular instance facing obstacles?
  • What did you gain?
  • How has it changed your perspective?
  • What you can share with others about your experience?

When you are able to answer these questions, you turn this obstacle into a meaningful learning experience.

6.  Break Things Down

Have you noticed how you get into the situation of facing obstacles by simply taking on more than you can chew? So, in future, take another look at your goals. Can you break it down into mini goals? You’ll find that focusing on these allows you to move forward faster. And you won’t be overwhelmed by your main goals.

7.  Accept You’re Only Human

You’ve heard of the adage that it is human to err. It is true. Allow yourself to fail so you can accept that facing obstacles is a result of human error. It is likely that you feel terrible when you stumble on your way to your goals especially with your inner critic in full form. But don’t let that question your abilities and give up.

Keep things in perspective. Acknowledge that you are human, it is okay to fail, be wrong. Then move on. When you do this, you will become better at accepting that mistakes are okay because you aren’t going to stop making them in future.

8.  Rethink Your Goal

Take a long hard look at your goals. Maybe you’re facing obstacles because of these goals? Maybe the goals weren’t well thought out. Maybe those goals weren’t what you needed to do in the first place. So, look at them. Maybe the obstacle is trying to tell you something.

Often, the obstacle pops up because you changed your plan half way. Think about whether you made any changes along the way. You may need to rethink that plan. Think of the obstacle as an opportunity to choose the right direction.

9.  Don’t Forget to Celebrate!

If you think it is weird to think of celebrating at this point, but look at it this way: when you celebrate what you accomplish, you enjoy the journey you are on, even while facing obstacles. Even if you’ve hit a massive block, you can still celebrate the progress you have made so far. It is definitely worth getting excited about. Embrace the emotions you are feeling, too.

Once the party is over, ask yourself: where do I want to go from here?

Perhaps choosing a fresh goal can be part of the celebration. Surely it is something to be excited about?

10. Don’t hesitate to ask for help

When facing obstacles, it is absolutely okay to seek help. Why do tough things alone? On our journey, we need our mentors and support systems so they can hold our hand when we struggle. Mentors offer the wisdom and insight we need to transition to the next step while support systems consist of friends, peers and family who have our back and encourage us. They are our cheerleaders who keep our spirits up.

And if necessary, don’t hesitate to seek professional help to work through your emotions.

Finally, when you embrace your emotions, you are better able to deal with the obstacles you meet on your way to accomplishing your goals. In addition, you also gain new perspectives and a new way of thinking, new ways to do things. You see things standing in the way as opportunities rather than blocks. You see a life of infinite possibilities.

The key to facing obstacles and overcoming them is not getting stuck. Don’t let your emotions hold you back.  Accept your emotions and move forward.

How do you tackle facing obstacles?

Facing obstacles 10 steps to manage your emotions

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Birgit April 7, 2020 at 6:48 pm

A great post and the best way is to face these head on. I have had many obstacles in my life and hiding from it or avoiding it will not get rid of it. The only way is to face it through while holding your head up high. Love your list

Leana Lourens April 9, 2020 at 10:49 am

Hi Vidya. This is a lovely post. I must say this will definitely help when people are feeling low or stressed. It’s great tips! Thanks for a very nice post Vidya

Jenny April 9, 2020 at 12:15 pm

Thank you for such a wonderful post, this whole experience can leave so many of us reassessing our lives. For some the impact will be greater and some big life changes will come from this. But if we can accept tha they are changes and not the end, we will be able to get through it

Richa MIna April 9, 2020 at 3:08 pm

i love the way you’ve stepwise shown our thought process when we are facing a problem. my approach is similar too first recognize the problem accept it, see the impact & deal with it if you can or forget about it if you can’t change anything.
Richa MIna recently posted…A Letter From #COVID-19 with Love #WorldHealthDay

Shilpa Garg April 10, 2020 at 1:15 pm

This post has come at an apt time. As everything around us is going to change, life will not be smooth initially. Accepting the situation, flipping the switch and reworking on goals and strategies will help us manage the problems and uncertainties better.

Felicia Austin April 15, 2020 at 7:10 am

Oh my gosh Vidya..this couldn’t have come at a better time for me personally. Like all of your posts I swear you have ESP when it comes to me lol. We are moving next month, yes in the craziness of this all the military decided to move us across the world…go figure. And as you can tell we are not wanting to move so suddenly.. but after reading your post it made me stop and realize how much of a blessing it is because we will be closer to family. Who some are having a really hard time health wise. Idk how long my in laws will be with us so I’m glad we get to go see them. Your quote “If we don’t have “downs” in life, how will we even recognize the “ups”? Got me in the gut! I NEVER thought about it that way and it was a HUGE AHH HAAA moment for me. Thank you for that. I hope you are staying well and safe!


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