Constructing Obstacles

Constructing obstacles represents one of the four withdrawal safeguarding tendencies as proposed by Alfred Adler: moving backward, standing still, hesitating and constructing obstacles. Constructing obstacles is a defensive behavioral pattern characterized by creating barriers to one’s achievement to protect oneself from feelings of failure and preserve self-esteem.

The creation of an obstacle might seem self-defeating at first. However, beating an obstacle (even if produced by oneself) generates feelings of reward and an artificial sense of success that preserves self-esteem. On the other hand, if one fails to overcome a desired goal, this failure can always be attributed to the previously created barrier. Example: “I need to take some courses and read many books before I apply to that job position I want. Only then will they want to interview me.”

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