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 Corporate America graduate, global entrepreneur, certified life coach, and media personality. He has penned over 200 blog posts on his popular website of 5 years, InspirationalPerspective.com and recorded over 200 radio shows on his weekly WVON 1690 AM talk radio program, “Inspirational Perspective”—which he also broadcasts live to his Periscope channel. Harris is a heavily sought-after speaker for conferences and events across the country. He is gifted in custom designing presentations for specific audiences that motivate and inspire. He has been called upon by numerous professional career organizations, universities and Fortune 500 companies to facilitate goal-setting sessions and provide inspirational talks. In 2015, Harris was inducted into Triton College’s Alumni Hall of Fame and he was the recipient of the 2013 Chicago Defender’s Men of Excellence award and the 2012 Chicago Urban Roundtable’s 40 Game Changers Under 40 award.

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