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10 Common Obstacles to Personal Growth

Updated on May 25, 2020
Grahame Milton-Jones profile image

Grahame has used his knowledge of psychotherapy built up over 20 years to provide this valuable advice.

Few people plan their lives

One of the most rewarding actions I am involved in as a Psychotherapist is helping people grow and develop. Obviously, much of my time is involved in helping people overcome psychological problems that have plagued them, and this is very satisfying, but watching people grow and realise their full potential is the best.

Over the years, I have encountered countless people who are capable of such personal growth. I have also encountered many more who would like to develop themselves but succumb to one of the many obstacles that prevent them achieving what they want in life.

One truth that I am aware of and meet almost daily is that very few people say that they have deliberately planned their lives to arrive at where they are today. In reality, lives grow and develop in a very haphazard way and those who like their lives and are satisfied are not only very lucky, they are also very unusual.

It is much more common to find people who are “putting up with what they have” because of a number of reasons. They have the opportunity to change and become something much more. Why don't they do something about it?


1 Where to start!

Though a major life change sounds like a mammoth task, when carried out in small bites it is not hard at all. Most people start by listing the things that they like and dislike about their lives, and what they would like to do in the future. This often raises lots of questions about what is holding them back and quite often it is not a real obstacle, but a psychological one. They are held back because they believe they are. The mindset that they can change anything or everything can both liberate and frighten people.

2 There is too much to change

This may be a valid excuse for some people but for most, the changes needed are smaller. Some people just need to raise their self esteem, gain a better education, meet more people, change their job, gain new friends, or even change their partner. Those who are locked into a bad relationship may have to realise that they have the ability to change it; either by demanding a change or leaving it behind. The alternative is to accept it but stop moaning about it.

3 My partner likes me as I am

This is very common; in general partners want them to remain as they are because the relationship favours them as it is. Some partners are dominating and force their husband/wife into submission. It will never be described that way. When someone wants to change, partners are often major obstacles and rows happen. Sometimes it is easier not to rock the boat. Many partners fear change in case their husband/wife grows away from them and they are left alone. The fear of being alone can be enough to prevent change.

4 My family would not like it if I change

The truth is that parents are often responsible for the problems of their children. They are not, however, responsible for their children continuing to have the problem when grown up. Breaking away is necessary and is often thought to be the cause of teenage rebellion. Parents and siblings however, often feel guilty when change is needed in case they have been the cause of the problem. They feel it is better to brush their responsibility under the carpet.

5 My friends like me as I am

Of course they do; and they will want you to remain just as you are so they will unconsciously resist any change that you want to make. They will say how good it is that you want to grow but fear what you will become. If they are real friends they will support you; if they are not real friends they will want you to stay the same for their own reasons.


6 Looking too hard at my life is scary

Many people prefer to remain in blissful ignorance rather than take a long hard look at their lives. They are afraid that they will be disappointed in how little they have done in their lives so far. It is not what they have done but what they will do in the future is important.

7 Who knows what I might decide to do

Many people feel that “the better the devil you know” and are worried about what will happen if they are unleashed. On many occasions, the inertia to carry on doing the same old thing is too strong and people do nothing.

8 Not enough money

Some people cannot break out of their rut because they do not have the financial resources to do so. Many marriages survive because the individuals cannot afford to live alone. If that is the case, a decision to accept the present situation may reduce a feeling of unfairness. Most people, however, do not need huge resources, it is just a convenient excuse.

9 What happens if it doesn’t work?

There is a fear that they will be even more disappointed than before. Persistence can overcome almost everything and those that make a serious decision to change usually make it happen, but over a longer time period. Not everything can happen today.

10 Maybe I am happy as I am

There are usually large parts of someone’s personality that they will not wish to change; it is the other parts that make them unhappy. No one has to change everything. Quite often, it is the little voice in the back of the mind (the unconscious mind) saying, “But I like who I am”. Lots of people are caring, helpers, and supporters and they like that aspect about themselves. This does not have to change but they may not need to compulsively be that way; they can consciously decide to continue doing those things.


The bottom line

Change is rarely easy but overcoming the obstacles to change is worth the effort. Life is to be lived to the full and not endured. It is never too late for someone to improve their lives, and as a result, their lives can be more rewarding, richer and fulfilling.

The time has come to remove the obstacles to being the new you


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