Obstacles of the Mind and How to Beat Them

Obstacles of the Mind and How to Beat Them

The lack of self-esteem is perhaps the biggest reason why feelings of abundance and growth seem difficult to turn into reality. Self-esteem is the feeling of pride in oneself. It is how you feel about yourself rather than how others see you.

According to the ancient teachings contained in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, there are five obstacles of the mind. They are collectively referred to as the klesas (afflictions). Having a grasp of these obstacles can aid in self-discovery, resulting to better self-esteem.

5 Obstacles of the Mind

  • Ignorance (Avidya)
  • Egoism (Asmita)
  • Attachment (Raja)
  • Aversion (Dvesa)
  • Clinging to Life (Abhinivesah)

These miseries will come at different times in your life, but you’ll be able to recognize them, as well as get through them once you’ve learned about the five obstacles listed above.


The first obstacle is ignorance of the true self. It lays the foundation for all the other afflictions. Ignorance can be described as an incorrect understanding of oneself that’s brought about by years of consuming content from a set of media sources. It has become so entrenched in one’s subconscious to the point that thoughts and actions become dependent on what media conveys as the moral choice. It is from this ignorance that judgments of oneself and of others arise. It is important to identify where these afflictions originated so that they can be rectified. Only then can one overcome ignorance.


The second obstacle is egoism, which is the identification of the self with what one is not. It sounds ironic that people with low self-esteem have an ego problem. In fact, they do because what others think controls how they think and act.

In egoism, being mindful and non-judgmental can be very useful. Imagine seeing the world through a camera lens and accepting it for what it is – no opinions or beliefs whatsoever.


The third obstacle is attachment. It arises from the idea that more is better, and that not keeping up is shameful. Youngsters call it FOMO (fear of missing out).

Attachment entails looking outside for validation in exchange for a brief moment of pleasure. Truth be told, these outside forces come and go. Only the internal true self remains consistent. The old adage “Happiness is found within”, continues to be true to this day.


The fourth obstacle is aversion. It is a strong feeling of dislike towards something. Aversion usually stems from the fear of the unknown, and fear plays a major role in issues of low self-esteem. By detaching oneself from aversions and attachments, one can see the situation for what it is rather than what it is perceived to be.

Clinging to Life

Clinging to life or the fear of death is the final obstacle of the mind. It is also referred to as survival instinct. It is the will to live and preserve oneself. Understanding this hindrance will ultimately set one free, and essential to this understanding is acceptance. If one comes to terms with death and what happens to the body after that, then one is said to have prevailed over this hurdle in life.

These five klesas are complex and intertwined. By opening the mind, one is able to recognize the situation, identify the obstacles, and be able to control them. This allows the individual to experience the true sense without judgment.

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