Colorado Life Coach: When Life is Too Much

Does the water feel like it’s rushing too fast?

Do you ever feel like you can’t get your breath?

Are the rocks too big?

I’ve lived in that place many times. It’s scary. You feel like you barely catch a break and something else hits. I’m not talking about little things either. It’s one big thing after another. It seems like other people have somehow figured out how life works, but your world just keeps tumbling.

Do you know what I mean?

What’s really going on?

In my counseling classes, I learned why circumstances can impact one person more intensely than another.

Some of us were taught how to manage life as we grew up. We learned boundaries, our emotions were welcomed, our little hearts mattered, and we were heard. Our families worked through issues. Transitions in life were welcomed, and we experienced growth. Because of this, when we hit a rough spot, we have the skills to deal with our circumstances. It doesn’t overwhelm us.

Some of us didn’t learn these skills. Our families didn’t deal with conflict (or much of anything), addictions raged and we pretended life was good, abuse or neglect was normal, our emotions were ignored or trivialized, our hearts weren’t seen or valued. As a result, when we hit a rough patch, we don’t respond in a healthy way. Our life is already stressed to the max, just from daily living. We don’t have the reserves to deal with anything else.

When we haven’t dealt with our dysfunctional family patterns and secrets, our energy is spent negotiating everyday life. We don’t have anything left if something goes wrong.

*The dishwasher breaks

*A child has a learning problem at school

*Your spouse loses his/her job

*Your best friend moves

*Someone has a car accident

These issues add stress. If our daily lives are already stressed to the breaking point, how do we respond when something unpredictable happens?

How can we change this?

Get some help! Figure out what healthy relationships, emotions, and families look like. If you grew up in dysfunction, health wasn’t modeled. You need to learn how to communicate directly. You need to figure out what is your responsibility, and what isn’t (boundaries).

As you learn new skills and put them into practice, your life will gradually start changing. Things will calm down. The bumps will become smaller. You’ll find you’re able to navigate the everyday much better, so the unknown doesn’t take you out.

Most people don’t ask for help until they face a crisis. This is a huge problem! In crisis mode, the skills they DO have are stressed. They can’t think clearly enough to learn new ways of living.

The time to deal with your negative patterns is when things are going well. You will have the energy to learn and practice new skills. Then when the next thing hits, you’ll be much more prepared and able to manage your life.

If you’d like help, click here.

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.




Colorado Life Coach: Using God as a Weapon

“God told me…”

“God’s reason for this is…”

“You’re not in God’s will.”

Christians I know use these phrases a lot.

I used to…

An old friend of mine told me I should never say that God told me something unless I was really sure. Later, she used what she believed God “told” her to beat me up, spiritually.

I’ve had a tendency to be pretty black and white in my thinking. It’s either right or it’s wrong. There’s good and there’s bad. There is an answer to things.

And this is true, to a certain extent. There is a right and and a wrong, but sometimes there’s a whole lot of sensitivity in between.

Spiritual abuse occurs when people use God to control others. This happens when a husband quotes Ephesians 5:22 to get his wife to do what he wants (“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”). The previous verse, “submitting to one another in the fear of God” isn’t mentioned.


When a mom tells her children they “should” want to go to church.


When we judge others by what we view as their lack of spiritual growth. We may believe they don’t put God first in their lives. We may think they don’t pray enough. We may suggest their hearts aren’t pure.

The big question is, how do we know what’s in their heart? How do we know what God is doing in their lives? Who made us judge?

Last night, I was the guest speaker at an event. My topic was distorted thinking. Through some discussion, a question was raised about our responsibility to evangelize our friends and family. The woman asking was clearly distressed. Her church taught that this was her responsibility and when she didn’t consistently talk to others about their need for God, she felt guilty.

I’ve done it! I preached at people. I tried to get them to see how detrimental their actions were to themselves and those around them. I wanted them to see their need for God.

Instead I pushed them away.

Isn’t this the real issue? We want people to see things the way we do, and we can’t make them.

So we use God.

If they won’t listen to me, surely they’ll listen to God!

~A friend’s daughter is making some really bad decisions. She’s mad at God and thinks He’s against her. Instead of truly listening to her daughter’s heart and connecting with her, she quotes scripture and blames the devil.

~A client’s girlfriend doesn’t engage emotionally. Instead of talking to her directly, telling her he needs more connection and asking to get some help together, he says that God told him she’s not right for him.

~A pastor counseled a hurting wife and they both determined that God told them to end their current marriages and marry each other. I wonder if their former spouses and children were so sure this was God’s will.

~Many of my clients have been hurt by someone who broke up with them because “God told me you aren’t the one for me.” How must they feel about God after hearing that?

Why don’t we just accept responsibility for our decisions? Why do we have to put the blame on God?

I absolutely believe God speaks to his people. I believe he warns us, guides us, and shows us the direction he wants us to go.

Jesus is our example. How did he treat people?

He was most kind to those who didn’t know him.

He was harsh with those who said they knew him, but used religion to control others.

What if we live our lives by example, and share with those who want to know how we made it through some tough situation, or how we continue to have peace, or how we wake up everyday in the midst of hardship?

Then we could let God be God. He’s better at it anyway.

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.


Colorado Life Coach: Trying to sleep-what an oxymoron!

Do you struggle trying to sleep? Isn’t that a funny saying? For something that should come so naturally and without effort, many of us TRY to sleep!

It’s been an issue for me for 13 years. I can pinpoint the day my troubles began. We had just returned from Vietnam with our adopted son, and I couldn’t fall asleep. I was exhausted, but lay awake night after night. I couldn’t wait for bedtime, and snuggled in, ready for sleep. Soon, I realized it was 1:00 and I was still awake. Now it was 2:30. Now, 4:00, and my anxiety kicked into high gear.

How was I going to make it through another day, when I hadn’t slept for 7 nights straight?

My mom invited me to sleep at her house. I took a hot bath, drank some Sleepy Time Tea, and enjoyed the peace and quiet away from my kids. Still, no sleep.

Through the years I’ve tried Melatonin, and several natural sleep aids, as well as over-the-counter drugs. I’ve set a schedule, darkened my room, and tried everything the “experts” recommend. A few well meaning friends gave me this advice, “If you’d listen to God during the day, he wouldn’t have to wake you up at night.”

The worst time was a 5-month period without any sleep. I couldn’t drive. My eyes hurt. People brought us meals and cleaned our house. I couldn’t take care of my children. I was truly in crisis.

It’s a scary, lonely thing to lay awake when everyone you know is sleeping soundly.

I decided to see a psychiatrist. He mixed me up a combination of pills that did the trick. Other than eating and using the bathroom, I slept for a solid week. After arising from my semi-coma, the Dr. told me to take the drugs every other night. So, I slept every other night.

Over time, I lowered my dosage, and dropped most of the meds.

I’ve worked on my physical health, nutrition, exercise, and emotional health as well. I’m at a good weight and healthier than I’ve ever been.

And I still struggle with sleep.

I’ve prayed. Believe me, when you’re up for hours by yourself, God is very close.

I hear from friends of all ages that lack of sleep is truly an issue for so many people. It impacts everything.







Physical health


Our bodies were made to recharge for about 8 hours every night.

I don’t schedule meetings in the morning, because I never know how I’ll feel. Some days, I don’t get much done. Other days, no one would ever know I have sleep issues, because I can totally keep up.

My lesson?

During the long sleepless 5 months, I decided I would be OK if I never slept again. After all, I was still alive. I quit fighting it. I gave up and gave in. This decision didn’t come easily. A good friend told me how she had gotten through a really rough time. She quit fighting and accepted it.

I’m a doer, so doing nothing and accepting is actually harder for me than seeking counseling, trying a program, or adding structure to my life.

That was 8 years ago, and I’m STILL alive.

I still seek answers, but I accept that sleep is an issue and work around it.

Chances are, no one really cares how I’ve dealt with my sleep issues, but I bet lots of people can identify with the struggle! How about you? What have you tried? What’s worked, and what hasn’t?

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.

Colorado Life Coach: Is Perception Reality?

Is this forest healthy, or suffering from years of Pine Beetle?


We all have them. Have you heard the term Perception is reality? It’s not really reality, you know. I mean, you might perceive that 2+2=5, but that doesn’t make it so. Some things are just true and we all know it.

Other things aren’t black and white.

Like perceptions.

Maybe you’ve heard stories of witnesses to a crime. They were in the same place at the same time, but remember events differently.


4 kids living in the same home, at the same time, have very different memories of their childhood.

Perception is reality.

Several years ago, Bob and I attended a group for several weeks. We listened to some teaching, followed by an experiential exercise. That particular night, we talked about Moses and the burning bush.

3Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”

There was a time in my life when God just plain scared me. I had heard so many stories from friends who said God “had to use a frying pan to get my attention,” or “God will knock you upside the head with a 2 x 4 if you don’t do what he wants.” This God terrified me. I’ve always been anxious and wanted to do well. The thought that I would try to do the right thing and still get nailed if it wasn’t exactly what God wanted made me afraid to get close to him.

My perception was that God was just waiting for me to make a mistake so he could level me.

Back to that night. They asked us to take off our shoes and walk through the sandbox, like God asked Moses to do.


I didn’t see God asking Moses to take off his shoes, feel the sand between his toes, and experience a closeness with God. Here’s what I read,

“What the *^#! are you doing, stupid Moses? Don’t you know I’m holy and you’re not? Get your stinking feet out of my sand. This ground is holy!”

Perception is reality.

For me, I had been so afraid to come close to God because I thought he would wipe me out. Even though my desire was to be close to him and do what he wanted, I thought it would never be enough. Most people in my life lived that way as well. It didn’t matter what your intentions were, you’d never be good enough, but you’d better keep trying.

I took off my shoes and slid my feet into the sand. God met me there. I felt him whisper, “Can you feel me? Just like this sand, I want to be in every part of your life. Let me cover you. Let me surround you. You’re safe here. I’m not going to hurt you, I love you! Wiggle your toes and be free!”

My perception changed that night!

I believe it’s more in line with actual reality. God loves me. He died for me. It’s all about him and the grace he offers to me every day. I’ll never measure up to his standards, but I don’t need too. He doesn’t expect me too. He just wants to love me and have me love him.

That’s all.

What do you think? Is perception reality? How have your perceptions changed through the years?

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.


Colorado Life Coach: I’m responsible for WHAT?

We’re supposed to take responsibility for our actions, right?

I get this! I support this! I know it’s hard, but true.

And sometimes, I don’t feel in control of myself.

What about trauma? What about PTSD? What if something happened to your brain because of something in your past? Are you still responsible? Yes.

(By the way, I took this picture of the back entrance of a detox facility. Isn’t it interesting that we sometimes feel we have to hide when we’re trying to get healthy?)

This is a difficult topic.

I have some triggers in my life. When they “go off,” my breathing changes. My brain gets confused. Sometimes I can’t remember the course of events that just happened. I don’t remember who said what, when. Sometimes I don’t hear the apology. My heart is pounding so hard, and my palms are sweaty, and my brain feels like it’s going to explode.

How can I be responsible when I don’t know what I’m doing and can’t think?

But I am responsible. And so are you.

3 people I respect immensely said things about this topic that stand out in my mind:

Steve Arterburn from New Life Ministry spoke about addiction this way: “If you’re not getting healthy by going to 1 meeting a week, go to 4, go everyday, go from 1 meeting straight to another until you gain sobriety.”

Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend speak frequently about the idea of internal structure vs. external structure. We are supposed to gain tools for life as we grow up. Some of us missed the lessons because our parents didn’t pass them down, or traumatic experiences disrupted our learning. What if we don’t have the tools to “become self-disciplined?” Where are we going to gain them? From ourselves? No. Our “self” doesn’t have the discipline! We need “other-discipline.”

“Self-discipline is always the fruit of ‘other-discipline.’ Some people get disciplined by other people early in life and then internalize it into their character; then they possess it themselves. Other people don’t get disciplined early in life, and they don’t ever have self-discipline until they get it from others and internalize it for themselves. It’s not rocket science; it’s the way God designed us to grow. Others discipline us, and then we can do it for ourselves. Kind of like everything else in life–we get it by receiving it from others (as it says in 1 Corinthians 4:7).”

Here’s an example of how it looks:

1. Get an accountability partner.

2. Join a group that gives specific assignments, offers correction and feedback, provides consequences for not performing.

3. Submit to the structure of the group meetings, no matter the cost.

4. Call accountability partner when tempted to slide to get support, work through fears and resistance, and heal the pain that drove the irresponsibility, etc.

Through this process, you can begin to internalize the structure and realize “self-discipline.” Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

What’s this have to do with my triggers? If I can’t deal with them on my own, it’s my responsibility to find someone who can help me deal with them. I’ve done that and will be doing some intensive work with 2 therapists to heal up my triggers.

And I can’t wait! It’s scary-believe me! The counselor told me they’d get past my “huge frontal cortex” (which means I’m smart, I guess) and get into my limbic system. I will feel more vulnerable than I’ve ever felt.

I know it will be scary.

And I am so excited!

I know it will be painful.

And it will be so worth it!

I’m looking forward to a life without triggers! Other people can then be free to be as crazy (or sane) as they want, and it won’t trigger me! I’ll be healthy.

What about you? Maybe you’ve done lots of work already. Are you done growing? Do things still trigger you? Are you responsible for it? Won’t you join me?

Find a group!

Find a coach!

Get some help!

Take responsibility and live your life as God prepared it, just for you!

Quote taken from How People Grow, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.


Colorado Life Coach: Coasting Toward Home

I like to go uphill first.

I’ve been biking a lot this summer, and find I like to go on the path uphill for the first part of the ride, so I can coast downhill at the end when I’m tired.

All summer I’ve been thinking about this picture and how it relates to life.

Bob and I talked today about being 50 (he is a little past, but I’ve got a whole year left in my 40’s). Many people don’t live to be 100, but I’m working on my health, so I hope to get close, all while being totally functional!

If my life is about half over, I hope I took the uphill path during the first part of my ride.

I know so many people who took the downhill path first. Some of them did it on purpose, because they didn’t want to deal with hard things. Instead, they ignored issues, or took the easy way. Others didn’t know there was another option.

I didn’t know there was another option for many years. In fact, life was pretty easy for a long time. I worked hard and it paid off. Kind of like the easy bike trails. They start off simply, with a few hills here and there, but they don’t really take much out of you.

It wasn’t until I started hitting the bigger hills in life that I realized how out of shape I was emotionally, relationally, spiritually, mentally, and even physically. I couldn’t handle the hills. They were too steep and they came one right after the other. There were no straightaways or hills going down for a long time. It was all uphill for about a decade.

I hated it. I protested. I cried. I blamed others. It wasn’t fair! Why was my life all uphill, when other people seemed to be coasting?

We lived out in the country during some of these hard times. It took me 1/2 hour each way to pick up my kids from school. I listened to New Life Live (a Christian Call-in Counseling program) on the radio for several years. The more I listened, the more I realized that many people struggled with similar issues, and there were answers to these problems. It dawned on me that I had some responsibility for my life circumstances, and even if I hadn’t caused them, I was the one responsible for making things better.

I started the long trek uphill toward health. It began with the knowledge that I needed help. I didn’t know how to handle life very well. I didn’t have the right tools. It was like trying to ride uphill with only one speed.

I sought counseling and gained more tools:


*Understanding what healthy relationships looked like

*Healing hurts from my past

*Growing closer to God

*Creating healthy friendships

*Taking responsibility for my decisions and actions

*Putting on my “big girl panties” (padded ones, of course)

After doing all this internal growth work, I found life to be a little easier. I still hit some hills, but my training has paid off and I can handle it. I have the tools I need now.

My hope is that I took the uphill path and trained hard, so in the later part of my life, I’ll be able to coast a little more as I approach Home.

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.


Colorado Life Coach: Cut Off

I knew it was true.

I’ve been cut off.

I did some things that were wrong. I said some things that were hurtful.

I also did some things that were very difficult, but needed to be done.

During a horribly turbulent time in my life, I didn’t handle things well. I ran from relationships. I didn’t have the character to work it through. I tried, but I couldn’t keep going.

These things were then misunderstood and passed along from person to person.

A whole group of people now believes things about me that are inaccurate and they treat me very coldly.

They cut me off.

Have you ever done something you regret? How did people treat you afterwards?

Here’s the hard part. I recognized what I did, how it hurt some people, and I apologized and asked their forgiveness. They forgave me.

It’s the others that are cold now. I didn’t do anything to them. They don’t even know the real story. They heard some things and believed them without coming to the source.

Isn’t that the way it goes. We sit in judgment of others without bothering to find out what really happened.

I’ve done it.

You’ve done it.

It doesn’t really seem to matter until it happens to you (or me).

So I walked into a place that should have been very welcoming, filled with people I know and love.

It felt like a firing squad.

Oh, they were nice enough. They said “hello.” Well, most of them, anyway. Some couldn’t even look at me. It was after the greeting that was hard. They couldn’t stand near me. They might have asked a question or two, but they waited for their escape. I tried to ask about their families, but was given very little information. It was obvious there was a huge wall between them and me.

My husband noticed.
I wondered if I was just paranoid. Maybe I was making it up. Maybe I was just too sensitive. Maybe I was in a selfish place, or triggered by something, or expecting too much, or…

And than it happened. A couple who attended the same event came to our home and asked us what had really happened. Not what everyone said and believed, but what really happened.

We told them. And they wept. They wept for what we had been through. They wept for how they had judged us. They wept because they believed everything they had been told and stood on the sidelines while we suffered alone. They jumped on the bandwagon that judged us. And they were truly sorry.

Then they confirmed all that we had felt. People really had judged and demonized us. There really was a wall between us. They really didn’t want to talk to us, they just wanted to judge.

Now people say they are so thankful we’re “making an effort.” They still don’t want to know us or understand what happened. That would be too messy and require them to actually enter our pain. But they sure are glad we’re showing up to make everyone else feel better.

I get it.

I’ve done it.

Wouldn’t it be great if we’d all either go to the source and find out what really happened, or keep it to ourselves?

Have you ever cut someone off?

Have you been cut off?

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.


Colorado Life Coach: Jesus In The Janitor’s Closet

I pictured the closet.

It was dark inside, so from the outside, I couldn’t see anything.

As I moved closer, I could make out the shape of a baby. You know how babies pull their legs up under their bottoms? The baby only had on a diaper, and was the cutest thing!

As I moved closer to the closet, I could tell someone was holding the baby.

I looked around the closet: dirty water in a pail, mops, rags, trash.

I wasn’t literally standing near the closet. You see, I almost died the day I was born and my parents called their priest. He baptized me in the janitor’s closet at the hospital. For most of my life, I’ve felt like a bucket of need. I didn’t understand where it came from until I studied attachment theory.

A healthy attachment is crucial for relational and emotional security. My attachment was disrupted because I had to spend my first 8 days of life at Children’s hospital without my parents. There’s more to it than that, but I believe this caused anxiety in my life.

In my early 40’s I attended a healing ministry for several weeks. Part of this experience included each participant asking Jesus to show us where he was when difficult events happened in our lives. My mind went to the janitor’s closet. I related to the trash, the dirty water, the bucket (of need, in my case).

I asked Jesus where he was and I saw the closet. Then I saw the baby–it was me.

Someone was holding me. It was him!

He held me against his chest and stroked his hand from the top of my head, down my back, and around my bottom. Then I realized he was speaking to me. It’s OK. You’re OK. I’m right here. You’re going to be OK.

Suddenly I realized why that scene impacted me so much.

Whenever I felt anxious, I wanted to curl up and have Bob run his hand from the top of my head and down my back. I wanted him to tell me everything was going to be OK.

I wanted him to be Jesus for me.

I finally understood that Jesus had been with me from the start. He never left me alone. He knew I’d feel afraid and he was there assuring me I’d be OK.

Now when I feel anxious and Bob holds me like that, I feel Jesus reassuring me and I calm down.

Jesus met me in the janitor’s closet, he’s been with me every moment of my life, and he’ll never leave me.

If you’d like help dealing with difficult issues from your past that still impact you today, click here.

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.



Colorado Life Coach: Wait! Don’t leave me!

Bob and I went on a bike ride today.

It’s become a fun thing we enjoy together most weekends. We like to ride about 4-5 miles to a restaurant, eat lunch, and ride home.

Everything was great! I usually ride in front. I’m discovering there are many reasons for this:

~Bob likes the view 🙂

~I like to be able to set the pace. Sometimes I can’t keep up with him.

~My anxiety doesn’t come screaming out of nowhere!

That last one hit again today. Bob took the lead for awhile, and he got about 50 feet ahead of me. I felt sadness and fear creep up. What is going on? Why do I suddenly feel like crying? And then I felt the old, familiar feeling:

Don’t leave me.

Now, I need to explain. I wasn’t ever left. My parents stayed married until my dad died. I’ve never been left by a boyfriend. I’ve never been divorced. I didn’t lose anyone close to me tragically when I was young. What is this about?

I have done enough growth work to understand that it’s not always the clear, logical reasons that cause us to feel triggered even decades after an event. Sometimes it’s not even a specific event, but a series of events; seemingly small things, that can have a profound effect based on the age of the person when the event(s) occurred.

I think my fear of being left started right after I was born. I swallowed some of my mom’s blood during my birth. The doctors thought I was bleeding internally and I had a few other issues. They were concerned enough to have me baptized in the janitor’s closet of the hospital, and transfer me to Children’s Hospital in Denver.

I stayed there for 8 days.


I study attachment theory and how events from early life effect how we see ourselves and relate to others. I have an anxious relationship style. I believe it stems from being left in an incubator the first 8 days of my life. My mom came to feed me once a day. I’m sure that was what the doctors recommended at that time. What I know now, and what I can FEEL, is that I needed to be held constantly, fed by my mom when I was hungry, nurtured, talked to, comforted, and nurtured.

Add to this times when I felt horribly misunderstood, being told to go to my room for expressing a negative feeling, being told I wasn’t wanted by people I loved (and were just immature themselves), believing no one cared what I had to say, and other lies I picked up along the way, and you can see how this lingering anxiety might strike at odd times.

I’m 49 years old.

Sometimes I feel like a little girl.

Sometimes I feel like a scared baby.

I just want to be held and comforted.

I just want to know I’m not going to be left alone.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about the vision I had of Jesus meeting me right in that wounded place. It was awesome, and reminds me that I never was alone, and I never will be alone. He will never leave me or forsake me. Awesome!

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.



Colorado Life Coach: Now and Not Yet

Isn’t it good to be happy with what you have?

Isn’t it also good to long for more, dream big, keep improving?

What if you’re in a relationship and one of you is tired of working on things. Can’t we just be OK? Can’t we just be happy with who we are, where we’ve been, the life we have? And one of you likes growth, improvement, increased intimacy. Can’t we work on this, so it will be better? I want to continue to grow! I want to be closer to you and not keep triggering each other.

Yes, and yes.

I’ve always enjoyed puzzles and mysteries. I want to know how things work, and why they broke. I like trying to understand how people became the way they are, and if there is anything they can do to change. Call me weird, but it’s true.

My husband likes calm. He likes predictability. He wants things to just be OK.

Can you see where our marriage might run into conflict?

For fun, I like to meet with counselors and hear their methods to bring people greater healing. I had such a meeting last week. Bob invited me to have lunch with him after the meeting. I was excited! This guy works with people who have been through trauma and helps them stop getting triggered. I’m thinking of myself, my marriage, friends, everyone I know who gets triggered and could be helped by this type of treatment. I’m also thinking of the groups I lead. I do some of this type of work, but imagine what healing could occur if I knew more and could implement it with those in my groups! I was so excited!

Guess what? Bob felt overwhelmed. I had hardly started telling him about my amazing morning, than I could see the familiar “deer in the headlights” look I know so well. I don’t mean to overwhelm him. He wants to be excited for me. But it still happens.

Something I said triggered sadness in him. He started to feel like I was telling him I wanted to start intensive therapy…unending, intensive therapy, again. He didn’t want to go tell his life story to yet another counselor (and the intake part takes several sessions), only to have to dredge up hard stuff from the past.

And I get that.

Here’s where my love of growth paid off. I called my own coach, Shannon Ethridge. I had just spent a weekend with her in Texas as part of her BLAST mentoring program. Shannon and I spent time just as friends, not as coach and client. But after my lunch, I needed a coach. Shannon helped me remember that due to our relationship styles (which, by the way, I am writing the book on), Bob tends to view life through the lens of criticism, and I tend to view life through the lens of rejection.

So, he feels like I’m telling him everything that’s wrong with our marriage, and why can’t we just be happy?

I’m telling him all the things I want to work on to make it even better, and feel rejected by his lack of enthusiasm.

So we’re here, and we’re not yet there.

Can we learn to be happy in both?

We spent the last 2 days in Breckenridge for our 27th anniversary. We talked while remembering each others’ woundings. When I share what I hope for the future, I remind him that I’m happy with our life now, and I want to continue to grow closer to him. When he talks to me, he reminds me that he loves me, and just because he feels overwhelmed, doesn’t mean he won’t participate.

It’s not either, or.  It’s, “be happy in the now, and keep working on healing and growth in the not yet.”

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This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.


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