Obstacles and Obscurations
In the Buddhist way of thinking, we are all The Buddha. The Buddha is the state of being fully awake and enlightened. The reason most of us do not express this Buddha Nature is because it is obscured by attachment to the ego or the "monkey mind". The ego is a double edged sword. On the one hand, as Freud said, it is the "reality principle". It keeps us grounded and responsible. On the other hand the ego "edges God out". It is deluded and self important and wants to be in control at all times. The egos need to control is what keeps us from enlightenment and ultimate health and happiness.
So what creates these obstacles and obscurations? As I just explained, the egos tendency to think it knows gives rise to attachment and aversion, two of the primary causes of suffering. The other reason for obstacles and obscurations is Karma. Karma is the result of the egos insistence that it is in control. Whether Karma ripens from this life's past misdeeds or from previous lives misdeeds is not important. What is important is that the simple cause and effect from Karma creates obstacles and obscurations to our true Buddha Nature. Karma can ripen as illness, emotional disorders, accidents or any other less than enlightened condition.
Our job as humans who desire to be enlightened is to clear away these obscurations. We do this through discipline. Our effort is to transform everything to compassion. We first train our mind to let go of our tendency to grasp so that we can convert our poisonous emotions(mental illness) to compassion. Just the intention to this discipline reaps immediate rewards. For instance jealousy and envy are transformed to admiration and respect. Anger is transformed to sorrow which warms the heart to self and others.
Another, even more potent method is through practice such as meditation and specific practices handed down from previous masters. There is a meditation practice called Tonglen which has a very powerful effect of clearing away obscurations. In Tonglen we breath in suffering and breath out love, thereby purifying the whole universe as well as ourselves. There are other daily practices called Sadana's that are also very potent. If you are a Buddhist a qualified Lama can teach and recommend these practices.
If you are not a Buddhist you can still clear away obscurations and obstacles by practicing the Golden Rule or as the Dalai Lama recommends, make your religion kindness. We must actively set our intention to be ethical and kind every day. We must actively reign in the selfish concerns of the ego. It is best to find a qualified teacher or a mentor who might be a therapist to aid us in our commitment to clear away our obscurations so that we can come closer to our Buddha Nature and achieve happiness and well being.