THE SEVEN OBSTACLES
The chief negative feature or Obstacle is the only Overleaf that is not chosen before birth. Children experiment with the different Obstacles and then settle upon one favorite sometime before age 35. Everyone uses all of the Obstacles occasionally, although you choose one from which you chiefly operate. It is also possible to switch Obstacles during your lifetime. People usually switch by sliding more‑or‑less permanently to the Obstacle that is opposite theirs on the axis. There are different degrees of using the Obstacle; some people use them often and strongly, some people use them mildly or hardly at all.
All Obstacles are based upon fears. You pull in your Obstacle when you are in the negative pole of the Emotional Center, i.e., sentimentality or emotionalism. Since everyone can use all Centers, even Intellectual and Moving Centered people get a "chance" to use their Obstacle!
Obstacles retard growth by pulling in additional challenges and difficulties. People will use their Obstacle to protect themselves during times of stress. The Obstacle is the favorite device of “false personality,” i.e., the personality that is projected when you are using the negative poles of all your Overleaves. Obstacles can also be used appropriately to strengthen personality by using them in the positive pole. This teaching encourages people to move to the Exalted side of the axis if they are using Ordinal Obstacles, as a first step to softening or erasing their Obstacle altogether. The Ordinal Obstacles are Self-deprecation, Self-sabotage and Martyrdom; they slide to Arrogance, Greed, and Impatience respectively. Stubbornness is the neutral feature and slides easily to any of the other six.
The way to minimize your use of your Obstacle is to see that you can function without it and to strengthen your sense of self‑agape (love, forgiveness, and tolerance for your self). When you are worried, stressed, or afraid, you have fallen out of self‑agape and forgotten that you control your own Universe. You can also minimalize your Obstacle by deliberately stepping into the positive pole of your Attitude. The Obstacles affect the personality intellectually, emotionally, and energetically. Intellectually, they project a viewpoint about the present reality that is negative. Emotionally, they make it difficult to connect with others in a loving, trusting, or intimate way. On an energetic level, they project a wall which signals others to stay at a distance. People can use their Obstacles to facilitate karma formation and karma payback. When you are not in karma and are on a path of spiritual advancement, it is possible to minimize the use of the obstacles.
THE INSPIRATIONAL OBSTACLES
Arrogance and Self-deprecation are the Inspirational Obstacles.
Arrogance, the fear of vulnerability, is an Exalted Inspirational Obstacle and therefore brings attention to the person who uses it. Ironically, what is usually at the base of arrogance is shyness. Arrogance is a barrier which prevents a person from finding out what people really think of her. The person in Arrogance attempts to do this by making herself appear to be something other than who she really is. Arrogance and self-deprecation both deal with the issue of "How much am I worth?"
It is common for teenagers to experiment with Arrogance by making themselves attractive or noticeable, while at the same time creating barriers to mask their fears. Arrogance is judgmental both of oneself ("Am I acceptable?") and of others. Judgment is always a major hurdle to experiencing agape. In the positive pole, Arrogance can be used to develop real pride and make yourself more worthy in your own eyes. In the negative pole, someone in Arrogance feels she is right and others are wrong and can be intolerant of the behavior or existence of others. Those in Arrogance tend to spend an inordinate amount of time on their personal appearance, in front of the mirror, or worrying about the kind of impression they are making. People in Arrogance can try to appear to be someone or something they are not or try to convince themselves they are other than who they really are.
Pride. Self‑esteem. An antidote to self‑deprecation. Feeling of worthiness.
Vanity. Shyness. Haughtiness. Snobbery. Seeing oneself as unacceptable. Judgmental of oneself and others. Creating barriers between oneself and others. Worrying about others' opinions of you. Shyness in crowds or intimate situations. Having false pretenses. Lying.
Self‑deprecation is the Ordinal Inspirational Obstacle which says, on some level, "I am not worthy." This Obstacle limits the development of Essence because of the challenges inherent in low self esteem: whether it be not allowing one's talents to manifest; seeing oneself unworthy of love (relationships), truth (knowledge), or energy (including money); or not feeling worth the benefits of spiritual growth. In this teaching, people are encouraged to give up their Self‑deprecation, either by sliding to Arrogance, as a stepping stone toward self worth, or by contributing to the world to increase pride in oneself.
Self‑deprecation is a favorite obstacle for older Souls because by the time you are an Old Soul you know how little you know relative to the whole Universe of information available. Also, control issues and having possessions become less important than having philosophical and self‑worth perspective at that stage of development.
In the positive pole, Self‑deprecation is appropriately humble, i.e., humble when there is a cause or need to be so. In the negative pole, people in Self‑deprecation abase themselves by dressing poorly, not attending to their appearance, not taking care of their health or their possessions. Someone using Self‑deprecation heavily will not be able to maintain appropriate relationships, satisfactory employment, necessary material goods for healthy survival, nor will she be able to manifest or develop her own talents. In addition, she will not spiritually grow, since she will even be unwilling to accept her lessons in life.
Humility. Unassuming. The reverse of haughtiness and snobbery. Gentle.
Self‑abasement. Making oneself unworthy. Giving a poor appearance. Not feeling capable. Dishonest. Not being able to communicate clearly and directly.
THE EXPRESSIVE OBSTACLES
Greed and Self-sabotage are the Expressive Obstacles.
An Obstacle of greed gives one a huge appetite for life. Although it can manifest as miserliness, Greed often shows up in Young to Old souls as a voracity for possessions, emotional and spiritual experiences, adulation, and physical highs. People with this Obstacle have wounded egos and an inability to satisfy themselves. There is always a need for another bite of food, more money, more material possessions, another lover.
Greed, the Exalted Expressive Obstacle, is the opposite of its Ordinal counterpart Self-sabotage.
Both greed and Self-sabotage are self-oriented. Someone using Greed feels that it is her right to have whatever she wants, and that it is the obligation of the rest of the world to provide it, even though that innate sense of entitlement goes continuously unfulfilled. In the negative pole, Greed can get caught up in worldly desires to the detriment of any spiritual pursuit. Also, Greed in the negative pole fears to lose what it already has and can become miserly and hoarding. Finally, Greed in the negative pole can live life in a state of continual unhappy dissatisfaction.
Having a large appetite for life. Ambitious. Loving and appreciating possessions and experiences. High appreciation for the Physical Plane. Heightened ability to have.
Voracious. Unable to be satisfied. Selfish. Hoarding. Miserly. Finding it difficult to give authority to others. Money‑hungry. Feeling the world owes you a living.
Self‑sabotage, the fear of worthlessness, is the Obstacle that is used when people feel too unworthy to exist or to have what they really want. In Self-sabotage, the personality can become suicidal or self‑destructive. This can appear in the form of actually ending the life, or in the form of self‑sabotaging habits (alcoholism or drug abuse), illnesses (severe depression and eating disorders), and/or a general inability of being able to support oneself (monetarily or emotionally).
The thinking behind this Obstacle is that you are unworthy of surviving or that life is so difficult that it is not worth continuing. Everyone uses this Obstacle on occasion, but those who use it as their chief Obstacle literally go about destroying themselves either quickly (e.g., taking life-threatening chances) or slowly (e.g., by risk-taking or substance abuse). In the positive pole, this Obstacle can look like dying for a cause; for example, suicide missions in wartime. It is possible to begin to escape from this obstacle by sliding to Greed and allowing yourself to have the things you really want more often.
Self‑sacrifice. Dying in order to save others. Using this obstacle for karmic payback where your death is owed.
Suicidal behavior. Self‑destructive habits or beliefs. No self-esteem whatsoever. Giving up. Despondency. Not being useful to yourself or others.
THE ACTION OBSTACLES
Impatience and Martyrdom, are the Action Obstacles.
Impatience, the fear of missing something important, is the Obstacle that has the personality ruled by time. Someone in impatience has a difficult time being in the present because she is always thinking about what needs to be done next or what isn't done yet that "should" have already been completed. She also feels like she is going to miss out on something that has not happened yet. People in Impatience feel rushed. They are in a hurry to handle the next task or the next lesson, instead of whatever is happening now. They feel pressured by the limitations of time.
In the positive pole, Impatience appears to be audacious, willing to push ahead, quick to find solutions to problems, and willing to try something new. In the negative pole, Impatience is intolerant of others, of situations, of itself. Allergies are often symptoms of intolerance to substances built up from the use of Impatience as an obstacle in this or a previous lifetime.
Audacious. Daring. Plunging ahead. Willing to take chances. Quick to problem solve.
Intolerant. Hurried. Pressured. Not being in the present. Worried about the future. Finding situations, others, or oneself unacceptable.
Martyrdom is the Obstacle that gives you the feeling that you are out of control, being victimized, or have given yourself over to the power and control of another person, situation, or authority. Someone in Martyrdom is not able to see that she is really in control of her own life. It is difficult to be around someone who uses this Obstacle since we all know on an Essence level that being out of control is a lie, an illusion of the Physical Plane.
Control is an issue for both Martyrdom and Impatience. The person in Impatience strives to be in control of that most ephemeral of elements, time. The person in Martyrdom, while believing she is out of control, strives to control others through whining, manipulation, or by making them feel guilty for her misery. In the positive pole, the person in Martyrdom can appear selfless, helping others without giving a thought to her own needs. In the negative pole, she feels life is unfair, it isn't working out, or that she is abused. She can also feel that she is being controlled, stepped on, used, or victimized.
Selfless. Giving time and energy over to the care of those close to you or to a spiritual cause or ideal. These attributes are always accompanied, however, by a neglect of self.
Victimized. Humiliated. Long‑suffering. "Guilt‑tripping" others for one's own misery. Not taking care of yourself or others in an appropriate way.
THE NEUTRAL OBSTACLE
Stubborness is the Neutral Obstacle.
Stubbornness, the fear of new situations, is the Neutral Obstacle and can slide to all of the other six. People with this Obstacle can end up using the others quite often and freely. This Obstacle is used as a braking mechanism to slow down the growth process when situations seem threatening. In the negative pole, Stubbornness is obstinate and will say "NO!" to any suggestions from others. It is a place where people dig in their heels. In the positive pole, it is determination, and will pursue the direction it has set out for itself despite any obstacles.
Determination. Having the power to get what you want. Being able to pass through obstacles. Steadfast in one's opinions. Unfortunately, always accompanied by a certain amount of blindness to other perspectives.
Obstinacy. Inflexible. Unable to listen to others, particularly to their suggestions or advice. Immovable. Unyielding. Rigid. Unwilling to grow or progress.