Staying Hopeful When Faced With an Obstacle

The Hindu deity Ganesha is in the form of an elephant and is believed to be the remover of obstacles. I have always loved elephants and the eye that is my company logo is an elephant eye I painted. I know that in my work as a coach I have met people at some of their most challenging times and they might have felt that the obstacle in front of them were not something that could ever be removed. Having moments when you feel hopeless is part of the human experience. Our obstacles take different forms but they feel the same. An obstacle is something in your way, stopping you. It is frustrating.

I am currently teaching toddlers and we have been singing “Going on a Bear Hunt”. On the way to catch the bear there are obstacles. There are some powerful lines that could be metaphors for adults.

We’re going on a bear hunt. We are going to catch a BIG one….

(We are thinking big.)

We’ve got our binoculars…

(We have tools to help us.)

We’re not scared… (We’re not scared)

At each obstacle… they don’t avoid it, they go through it. ( persevere)

So they find a bear and decide it’s too big and scary and they run back and retreat.

(Okay, Sometimes we need to regroup and change our goal— that is not failure that is learning from being brave and trying something hard. It’s learning from experience. It is what propels us to what is next. Growth requires change.)

There is a Chinese folktale of a man that wanted to marry a woman but her father said he would allow it on one condition. He had to prove his love by climbing a very steep menacing mountain. The young man’s heart sunk because the one thing he feared the most was heights. He was in love. He started climbing. The way he won the battle with his fear of heights was that at each step up he would admire the flowers growing out of the side of the mountain. He would think about their beauty and remember his bride to be. He made it to the top, he got his bride, and I am sure she nagged him daily to pick up his dirty socks and stop eating so many chips. Wedded bliss. Happily ever after… that last part is not in the original story.

I hate heights too so that story stuck with me.

The painting of flowers on this blog is called Dahlias and Fireflies. I painted it when I was having a hard time in my life. After I painted it and named it I found out fireflies represent hope and inspiration and Dahlias are flowers that grow in the valley, so the picture represents hope and inspiration in the valley.

If you are facing an obstacle, what will you say to yourself to remain hopeful? Here are some ideas.

I am thinking big!

I will get through this.

I have some good tools to handle this.

I am not scared.

I am going to focus on the beauty along the way as I do this hard thing.

I will look around and see signs of hope and inspiration.

The anxious/ worried mind does not think as well as a calm, creative, mind. Training your mind to be hopeful requires a mindful shift in your self-talk from giving yourself messages that invoke negativity and doubt to feeding your mind with hopeful thoughts.

I hope that you are able to think courageously about overcoming your obstacles this week. It is good for your heath in general and it will help you be able to think clearer about how to solve your problems. Let me know if this helps you. If you would like coaching services you can contact me at

Take Care,

Tracy May

Author: Tracy May

Teacher, Life Coach, Artist, Author, Public Speaker

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