Chances are you have experienced a psychological barrier at some time in your life. These are experiences within your mind affected by how you assess yourself and that prevent you from making desired progress.
We often hear about mental blocks as they relate to athletes in their respective sports. This affects both beginners and professionals, but it’s something that can affect us in any aspect of life.
What Could They Be?
Mental barriers are varied but many times are not identified as such. This is because it’s outside the context in which we normally think of them. Remember learning to ride your bike as a child? Maybe you learned quickly, or maybe you spent months or years unable to get on that bike without your dad holding onto it.
They often define the relationship between your belief in capability to achieve a goal, and a goal you believe is out of reach. For writers and authors, Writer’s Block prevents them from writing the perfect phrase or coming up with a new idea.
For an injured person adjusting to the use of prosthetics, their mindset could contribute to the belief that they can’t play their favorite sport anymore. Other common blocks that we tend to overlook include underestimating our marketable skills for a job. Or, self-sabotaging positive opportunities in our work and personal lives.
Mental barriers can manifest in many different ways. One person can experience more than one type, so it’s important to learn about them. Educate yourself on how to recognize the signs of a mental block and how to combat them. They may manifest through being too focused (to the exclusion of all else), being too distracted, or even through an inability to go about daily tasks.
How We Create Them
Ultimately, we create our own mental blocks, though other circumstances might have contributed to them. Self-doubt is a surprisingly common way to bar yourself from success, and this is what we often see in athletes. They want so badly to meet their goal. When they try to execute it physically and fail, they see a disconnect. Then, they begin to lose faith in their abilities. This is because they understood the theory of their goal so well.
A lack of confidence isn’t the only self-trigger. Similar conditions we place ourselves in that can result in a psychological barrier would be:
- Fear of Failure – You may have all the right skills and qualifications to do something, but your own desire to avoid failing prevents you from at least trying.
- Fear of the Unknown – If you experience severe discomfort in new situations or new territory, you could potentially think yourself into a skewed perception of the people and events. Now armed with false assumptions, it’s easier to avoid the situation rather than face it.
- Acute Stress – Being under constant stress from your home and work life is something most people deal with, but when it becomes severe, it can snowball into unmanageable anxiety. Your bodily response to stress mimics its response to physical danger. This means your mind is overridden by your need to act. In our thought-driven lives, this can prevent you from doing what needs to be done.
- Traumatic Experiences – Past events have a habit of shaping us, and traumatic ones have the potential of burying themselves within the subconscious and influencing the choices we make. We see this in the way embarrassing experiences as children can affect adults’ social habits and comfort level in similar situations.
All of these can be accompanied by excessive overthinking, which only serves to magnify the block.
How You Can Defeat Them
Your logical mind will tell you that the best way to get through a mental barrier is to keep pushing at it. But rather than getting stronger as you go, you can actually lose ground this way. Instead of subjecting yourself to agonizing hours spent doing nothing, take the time to switch gears.
A mental rest can usually bring you back to your goal more relaxed and accepting of your abilities. When you learn to stop trying to force the results, you’ll find that your mind and body are more willing to excel. This is because of the freedom they feel they have to move and expand.
You can use a hobby or interest that is separate from the area of your mental block. This will put some distance between yourself and that particular activity. If you’re not sure your current interests can distract you, try out a new activity that will require a bit more focus. Give your mind a break from your other challenges.
Addressing a mental barrier can also be as easy as talking through it with a trusted friend or family member. Having someone to act as a sounding board can give you a more objective view of the problem and remind you that you’re not alone.
What are Your Mental Barriers?
Mental barriers aren’t restricted to the emotions and circumstances mentioned here. They can relate to any number of things within each aspect of your life. They can be just as mild as they can be severe. Take some time to mindfully considered your life, and you may discover a barrier that you hadn’t been aware of.
Once you recognize it is there, you can take the steps to overcome it and move forward.