In my experience there are some common factors that frequently impeded the search for true self. Sometimes it is useful to be able to identify where we are obstructed and/or stuck. Here is the list in no particular order of importance:
Not knowing what they really want.
Rigidity of operating in the world. Usually stuck in habitual and repetitive patterns most of which are destructive and unrewarding.
Inability to perceive the obstacle at hand.
Being unaware of the driving forces of ego.
Ignorance of the unconscious defences mechanisms employed in the service of ego.
Driven by fear.
Dependency on others as sources of truth.
Working on one polarized extreme or another. This is often confused with grit and single mindedness, but in practice it is a closing off to possibilities. The myopic nature of working on extremes tends to make a person into a zealot.
Unwillingness to let go of control. Attachment has its genesis in control and fear. We become slaves to the pull of control and fear and live life accordingly.
Not willing to experiment with life and themselves, and consequently only following conventions, one of which is the convention of enlightenment.
Inability to recognize some of their own strengths. It is amazing to me to see people who have so many strengths and abilities yet people seem to be unaware of them or under utilize them. People seem to overlook potentially useful abilities that have been neglected over the years. Similar to the above, but often have a basis i
A focus on what the Absolute/God/Universe is like, as opposed to a focus on what the seeker is like.
Approaching the search in only an intellectual manner. Over analysing things, getting into our heads too much. The other side of the coin is being overwhelmed by our emotions and then getting stuck there.
A biggie is looking for spiritual experiences. If we have a glimpse that we think is profound or touches us deeply, we go looking for more of those experiences. But we forget, that they are only memories once the experience has passed. Further things will always change and be in flux. People get stuck looking for more of the same thinking that will get them what they want.
Being hooked on expertise. Reading too many books on the subject or going from teacher to teacher and accumulating knowledge. Knowledge is fine to some degree, but too much of a focus on it usually gets people stuck.
Not questioning the existence of a true self. It is not uncommon for people to take it for granted that a true self exists. Perhaps it does, perhaps it does not is a more open way of proceeding instead of assuming the existence of a true self.
By no means is the above meant to be an exhaustive list. Other elements may definitely be included. But these are the obstacles that seem to turn up the most commonly in interactions with people in my experience. It should also be noted that most of the above items are interrelated – with considerable overlap occurring between one thing and another. Subsequently, this complicates matters further and makes the task all that much harder for people.
What kind of things have impeded you on your search for true self? I am interested in knowing.