Every human being is basically blind to their own faults and sin. There are many reasons we cannot seem to die to self and enjoy communion with God – psychological reasons, inherited sin, pride, the tendency to control and other self-defeating behaviours. However, I think the biggest barrier to receiving the Love of God is egocentricity; we are centred on ourselves, on our own efforts to perfect ourselves instead of admitting defeat, taking our eyes off our own efforts, and allowing Christ to work out His salvation in our hearts.
God offers His children the means to become free in Him through the Sacraments, Scripture, prayer, and confession, but the biggest key is the humility to realise we cannot purify ourselves. Obviously, God desires our freedom. Since we are blinded by deep, cyclical attitudes, it takes Divine intervention to humble us and bring us to our knees. We must let go of our old ways of life if we are to be transformed in Christ. Part of this process of renewal is through purgation, which includes a vision of our bondage to sinfulness. Only with the help of grace can we see and destroy sin in order to move from darkness into the Light.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains our justification can only come through the power of the Holy Spirit and the work Christ did on the cross:
1989 The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus’ proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”38 Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. “Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.39
We probably agree theoretically to this theology of the spiritual life but most of us have to hit bottom and become desperate before we admit we need help, even from God. Suffering finally forced me to ask for Divine help because I was desperate. For years, even though my adult mind desired freedom, deeper levels in my subconscious were afraid to let go of the familiar, let go of control. What really held me back from surrendering to God was self-love and God demands that He be our first love.