Obstacles vs. Barriers


Life is a journey and as with any journey it can present its share of obstacles and barriers. As long as we’re breathing, obstacles and barriers will be a part of our human experience. It’s how we relate to our obstacles and barriers that dictates the quality of our human experience.

When faced with an obstacle, make a powerful choice to keep moving!
When faced with an obstacle, make a powerful choice to keep moving!

One of the most unfortunate mistakes we can make in this life is to relate to our obstacles as barriers.


Yet, I’ve seen evidence of this mistake being made by so many of us.

Thus, the goal of this post will be to clarify the subtle and sometimes significant difference between life’s obstacles and it’s barriers.

Let’s start by defining the two words in question:

something that obstructs or hinders progress.

anything built or serving to bar passage, as a railing, fence, or the like.

Often when we encounter difficult circumstances, they may produce an emotional reaction that causes us to interpret these situations as barriers, but most of the time it’s just an obstacle.

Here’s a simple way to distinguish the difference:

  • What ever slows down your progress is an obstacle.
  • What ever impedes or stops your ability to progress, is a barrier.

For example, a bad boss is an obstacle.

He or she may periodically hinder your progress but you can always choose a detour. Instead of suffering under their poor leadership you could simply choose to find a new job.

As long as you have options, your difficult circumstance is an obstacle; regardless of whether you use the options or not.

Choosing to stop and suffer is your choice, it is not a barrier.

An example of a barrier, is illiteracy.

Until this type of barrier is addressed through persistence, consistency and hard work someone who is illiterate will not be able to read.

There are no other options for knowing how to read other than learning how to read.

Audio books are listening; they are not reading. Until a person who cannot read learns to read, they will never read. There is no other option.

Here’s the take away…
If you’ve been thinking that boyfriend/girlfriend of yours is a barrier, think again…he/she is an obstacle.

Might be time to refocus your emotional lens and leave that obstacle behind you.

Most of the difficult situations and circumstances we are presented in life are difficult because they present us with a difficult choice.


barriers in our mindConsequently we are stopped by our fear of choosing, (which is typically created by the fear of making the wrong decision) rather than the circumstance or situation itself.

In the future, begin noticing where you get stopped in your life and start taking the time to distinguish whether you’re confronted by an obstacle or a barrier.

If it’s an obstacle, make a powerful choice (insert spin move or side step) and keep moving.

If it’s a barrier, identify what’s on the other side and address your barrier with a stubborn resolve to reach your goal.

With persistence, focus and consistency any barrier can be overcome.


Inspiration helps too, so remember to stay inspired, it’s a lifestyle choice.

About the Author:

Linal Harris
Global Entrepreneur – Certified Life Coach – Media Personality – Speaker


Linal Harris is a global entrepreneur, certified life coach, author, and media personality. As the founder of Inspirational Perspective® Publishing, LLC and Insights 4 Life™ Coaching, LLC, Harris challenges his global audience and coaching clients to Murder Mediocrity® and live their best life possible. Harris concentrates his work as an ontological coach with clients on what he calls the 4 pillars of life; the relationship we have to ourselves, the relationships we have with others, our relationship to work and money, and the connection we have to our spirit and life’s purpose. Harris coaches CEO’s, executives, entrepreneurs, athletes and celebrities. Harris is the author of “Slay Your Goals”, where he provides his readers with scientific and research backed tips for achieving their goals. Harris is an expert goal-setter and has been called upon by Fortune 500 companies to assist with setting their strategic priorities, facilitate goal-setting sessions and provide inspirational talks.

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