Perhaps you have been there. Someone wants to talk with you about a problem. This person is asking you for suggestions. You silently pray to God that you might say the right thing. You begin to speak. However, the conversation does not go as you expected. This person has a strenuous objection for most everything you say.
I was thinking about this recently and it occurred to me that there are certain roadblocks to our own progress and growth that just get in the way.
Roadblock #1 – My defensiveness and denial
“Nothing is wrong with me. I don’t have a problem. In fact, I am now angry with you for suggesting that I have a problem.” My own defensiveness can actually get in the way of any progress at all. Consequently, months go by without any real positive movement.
Roadblock #2 – My refusal to listen
“What do you mean I don’t listen! Why my friends tell me that I am a very good listener!” Such a person may put up a wall before you can even finish your sentence. Meanwhile, someone who is really listening might choose instead to ask a clarifying question or two to take advantage of an opportunity for self awareness.
Roadblock #3 – My lack of self-awareness
This might be the person who loses friends, deeply offends co-workers, and alienates others but does not see a problem with his or her own behavior. In fact, this person might lack self-awareness to the point that he honestly doesn’t see what he is doing to damage these relationships. In his mind, the fault is to be found with everyone else.
Roadblock #4 – My refusal to get help
This might be the person who says he/she needs help and even asks for suggestions. However, the person opposes every single suggestion offered.
“Why should I see a counselor? I already know what a counselor is going to tell me.”
“Me, see an attorney? Why would I do that? I can handle this.”
“Why should I see a doctor? That’s ridiculous!” On and on it goes.
The question I really need to reflect on is, “How do I make progress as I grapple with this problem?” No you shouldn’t listen to everybody, that will only lead to confusion. However, if you seek out a few wise, godly people, especially those with experience in navigating some of life’s difficulties, you might want to at least listen – really listen – to that person. And — before quickly saying “Of course I listen!,” you might ask the person to whom you are talking whether or not they feel like you have really listened.
Life is hard. However, it can become even more difficult when we put up roadblocks to our own progress.