What is Holding You Back? Four Major Psychological Roadblocks

A psychological roadblock is a behavioral, mental, or emotional barrier that prevents you from taking the necessary steps to create and sustain positive changes in your life. Instead of embracing and building yourself up to meet your goals, you remain stuck in the same situation as time goes by. Sometimes we are aware of the reasons why we can’t move forward with our intentions and plans. Other times we are not conscious or certain about what is holding us back. Here is a list of four major psychological roadblocks to help you think it through.

Imbalances in the Periphereal Nervous System

The Peripheral Nervous System is mostly composed of nerves that are responsible for carrying nervous signals and messages throughout the body. It comprises the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic nervous systems. These two systems work together to create mind-body balance and harmony. The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) helps us respond to stress by regulating our fight, flight, or freeze response.

On another hand, the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) helps us be relaxed and at ease, regulating body functions such as rest, digestion, repair, and reproduction. When these two systems fail to work together, with one dominating over the other, we are not able to respond in a fully functioning manner. Domination of the SNS is often associated with stress, chronic illness, and poor well-being. Domination of the PNS is usually linked to poor concentration, depression, lethargy, and disorganization.

Negative Coping Strategies

Imbalances in our nervous system can lead us to seek strategies to restore balance and harmony. However, not all strategies are effective, efficient, and healthy. Negative coping strategies such as avoiding issues, drinking, binge eating, and gambling are sought to relieve pain and discomfort but their effect is short-lived. They can often lead to addiction and cause permanent damage to the body and mind.

Unaddressed Wounds

Psychological wounds can run deep and away from our conscious awareness. Although not all wounds result in trauma, psychological wounds can negatively impact our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. The loss of a parent or going through a divorce, for instance, produce wounds that if not addressed can leave us stuck in a perpetual state of imbalance, or even attached to unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Unaddressed psychological wounds can also lead to a life filled with shame, guilt, fear, and anxiety. All these experiences make it difficult to establish a healthy relationship with ourselves and others. It is not uncommon to have trust issues or a sense of diminished empathy as a result of unaddressed emotional wounds.

Unresolved Trauma

Trauma results from one or more highly stressful life events such as being assaulted or experiencing abuse. Trauma deals with wounds that are deeply rooted in someone’s being and which have a huge negative impact on a person’s health and well-being. Besides the consequences already mentioned regarding unaddressed wounds, trauma can strongly affect the way a person perceives and experiences reality on a regular basis.

Unresolved trauma can lead to an inability to think clearly, impaired memory, strong and intense negative emotions, the experience of flashbacks, irritability, and a lingering feeling of overall detachment. These psychological patterns are very challenging and difficult to deal with.

Concluding Thoughts

Sometimes we want to move on with our lives and create positive change only to find out we can’t or that we are not ready yet. Sometimes we know why we remain stuck in old ways of behaving, thinking, and feeling, but other times we don’t. This list of major psychological roadblocks may help you tap into some hidden reasons or factors that have prevented you from designing and living the life you wish for yourself. If you have found you are being affected by one or more of these factors, please know you are not alone and you can ask for help.

How to Tell the Difference Between Fear and Intuition?

How do you know whether you are tapping into your intuition, or simply engaging and entertaining unhelpful, fear-based thoughts? Is that inner voice your intuition or your fear speaking? This is a complex topic, and yet it represents a skill we need and can develop as highly sensitive people. I believe everyone can benefit from learning to differentiate between intuition and fear, but highly sensitive people even more because struggling to understand which one is speaking to us can lead us to an endless spiral of doubt and confusion.

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The 4-Stage Psychological Response to Disaster

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A disaster is a calamitous event, especially one occurring suddenly and causing great loss of life, damage, or hardship. Can we prevent disasters? No, but we can prepare for them. Emergency disasters deal with survival, which is one of the primary needs of human beings. It includes the need for water, food, rest, clothing, shelter, and health. When preparing for eventual disasters, we can take care of at least four physical needs. These include protection, location, water, and food. Other factors can affect our chance of overcoming an emergency though. Our psychology is one of them.

Abraham Maslow established a difference between deficiency needs and growth needs. Deficiency needs include survival, safety, social, and psychological needs. Growth needs involve fulfilling your full potential as a person (self-actualization). Little harm may come if you don’t meet your growth needs in an emergency. Yet, if you don’t meet your deficiency needs, a lot of unpleasant results arise. Thus, it’s important we mentally train ourselves to respond in case of an emergency.

Colin Towell is the author of The Survival Handbook. He states we go through four different psychological moments in an emergency. These are pre-impact, impact, recoil, and post-trauma. Learning more about these moments can help us prepare and be better equipped. I will briefly describe each of these stages next.

Pre-Impact Period


In this stage, there is danger but some people may not recognize it while others can see it clearly. Those who can’t see danger exists are usually in denial. They refuse to accept the danger until it becomes too obvious to everyone and action is taken.

Impact Period


In this stage, people know there is a life-threatening situation. The majority feels frozen and unable to react rationally. Few people tend to express extreme behaviors (e.g. screaming, melt-downs). A minority usually remains calm and fully aware.

Recoil Period


In this stage, people begin to gradually return to their normal reasoning capacity. This is a period in which people become more aware and in greater control of their emotions.

Post-Trauma Period


This stage occurs when the Recoil Period is not successful. If people don’t get their reasoning and emotions in check, they may develop PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). This condition includes negative experiences such as guilt, depression, anxiety, aimlessness, and bereavement.


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