Colorado Life Coach: Good in, Bad out

My boundaries used to suck!

They were so bad, that my psychiatrist (who I was seeing due to sleep, anxiety and depression issues) told me I needed to teach a class on boundaries, so I’d learn them.

So I did—4 times!

It worked! I’m now teaching others how to have good boundaries.

What is a boundary? It defines what is us, and what is not us. What am I responsible for and what am I not responsible for?

We are responsible to others and for ourselves. We each have things we are responsible for: our health, our sleep, our weight, our job, our finances, our relationships, our emotions, our spirituality, our property, the direction of our lives. No one can carry our responsibilities for us.

Sometimes a crisis or tragedy enters our lives. This is when we need the help of others. We cannot and should not carry these by ourselves.

Boundaries help us keep out the bad, and let in the good.

Problems come when we do 1 of 4 things:

1. Can’t say “no”

Feel guilty and controlled by others.

Can’t set boundaries.


This comes from fear of:

Hurting feelings


Someone’s anger


Being shamed

Being seen as bad or selfish

Being unspiritual

One’s own overstrict, critical conscience (that harsh parental voice we hear)


Journal questions for growth:

~When have you noticed your spiritual or emotional “radar” not functioning?

~What bad things have you said, “Yes” to?

~Do you condemn yourself for things that God doesn’t?

~When have you obeyed your harsh conscience to avoid guilt from confrontation?

~When have you said, “Yes,” but felt resentful?

~What might you do next time?


2. Can’t say “yes”

Sets boundaries against responsibility to love.

See needs in others as weak.


This comes from either a critical spirit towards others’ needs.

You hate being needy, so you ignore the needs of others.


Being absorbed with your own desires and needs to the exclusion of others.


Journal questions for growth:

~When have you failed to act responsibly toward another?

~Do you have a critical spirit or are you absorbed with your own needs?

~How good are you at taking care of yourself?

~How does this affect your willingness to help other people?


3. Can’t hear “no”

Aggressively or manipulatively violate boundaries of others.


This comes from not wanting to take responsibility for your life.

Projecting that responsibility on other people.

Happens through either

Aggressive control:

Run over people’s boundaries.

Unaware of other’s boundaries.

Try to get others to change.

No room for someone to say, “No.”

Refuse to accept people as they are.


Manipulative control:

Less honest.

Try to talk others into a “Yes.”

Indirectly manipulate circumstances to get your way.

Use guilt.


Journal questions for growth:

~When have you been perceived as a controller?

~When have you neglected your responsibility to accept others as they are?

~Have you denied your desires to control others, brushed aside your self-centeredness, admitted no wrong?

~Have you done something for someone hoping to receive something in return?


4. Can’t hear “yes”

Sets boundaries against receiving care of others.


This comes from:

Inability to ask for help.

Inability to recognize one’s own needs.

Won’t let others in.

Won’t accept support.

Experience problems and legitimate needs as bad, destructive, or shameful.


Journal questions for growth:

~Do you avoid opportunities for others to love and support you?

~Are your boundaries more like walls than fences?

~Do you experience your problems, legitimate needs and wants as bad, destructive, shameful?

~Do you have reversed boundaries? (Let in the bad, but keep out the good).


Final thoughts:

It takes courage to look at yourself.

Most people choose to stay the same.

It’s hard work to change.

It takes a lot of energy, huge doses of humility, and effort to change.

It’s totally worth it!


For more information, please read: Boundaries, By Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

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

Colorado Life Coach: 12 Messed up thoughts and 3 steps back to reality!

Did you know that 2 people can go through the exact same situation, and have totally different outcomes?

Why does one person handle tragedy more effectively than another?

If both people are capable and bright, what would make the difference?

The way they think.

We all have automatic thoughts. They just happen to us. We’re just minding our own business, and all of a sudden we have a thought. Most people don’t realize they have any control over what they think. I mean, if it just pops into your brain, what can you do about it, right?

Turns out, a lot!

When we experience an upsetting event, we can have distorted thoughts. They are not an indication of lack of intelligence, they are just learned habits. They come in several forms. See if you identify with these:

1. Focus on what went wrong, and ignore aspects of life that are enjoyable.

2. Assume you know what others are thinking, jump to conclusions, or think bad things will certainly happen.

3. Catastrophizing: What if this awful thing happens? What if I can’t recover?

4. All-or-Nothing Thinking. I’m completely competent or I am incompetent. I handled that perfectly or horribly.

5. Shoulds: It’s not fair. It shouldn’t have happened to me. I should be over this by now. I must be absolutely sure nothing can go wrong before I risk again.

6. Thinking your feelings are reality. I feel so anxious, I must be in danger.

7. Overgeneralizing: All men let you down. Everything in life is unfair. I can’t do anything right. My whole life stinks.

8. Abusive labeling: I’m a loser. I’m worthless. I’m a coward.

9. Personalizing: Why was I singled out? They are out to get me. It must have been my fault. I must have deserved it.

10. Blaming: He makes me so… She ruined my life. I’m stressed out because of_____(my dog, my wife, my horrible childhood, your incompetence, etc).

11. Poor comparisons: Susan is a doctor and I’m just a mom. Sure she doesn’t spend any time with her kids, and my kids are great, but look what she does with her life!

12. Regrets: If only I hadn’t… I deserve to be punished for that.

So how do you change your thinking?

Next time you feel yourself getting upset do 3 things:

First: Briefly describe the upsetting event and how you feel. Rate the intensity of the feelings on a scale of 1-10.

Second: Analyze your thoughts. Look at the list above, and see which distorted thoughts are in play. Rate how intensely you believe them.

Third: Challenge the distortions. Talk back to your thoughts! Change the distortions to more reasonable thoughts: Yes this is difficult, but it’s just a trigger. I can stand it, even if I don’t like it. All I can do is my best. It would be nice to be over this by now, but everyone’s time table is different. I was out of control and powerless then, but this is a different situation. I’ve learned from mistakes in the past, and I can do so again.

You were created to control your mind, not have your mind control you. This is a tool that can be used to help you change your thinking, move through problems and find success!

Taken from: The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook, A guide to healing, recovery and growth, by Glenn R. Schiraldi, Ph.D.

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


Colorado Life Coach: My darn anxiety!

I struggle with anxiety.

For those of you who know me, duh!

For those who don’t, I deal with it in much healthier ways than I used too, and it happens less frequently, but it’s still part of me.

I used to hate it. It scared me. It scared others. I felt defective.

I know others struggle with avoiding, or pleasing, or living in drama. Not me. I struggle with anxiety.

Like when things don’t go the way I think they should, or I realize I suddenly have no control, or someone says, “I need to speak to you.”

My heart rate increases.

My palms sweat.

My mouth goes dry.

Sometimes I feel like I’m having a heart attack.

Mostly, I just feel scared, like a little girl, and I want someone to contain it all for me.

How’s that for a grown woman who’s raised 2 kids, taught high school band, run a million dollar home-based business, and now has a ministry with her name on it?

The feeling is not new. It comes from when I was a little girl. They thought I was going to die when I was born, so my parents had me baptized in the janitor’s closet of the hospital, before I was raced to Children’s Hospital in Denver. I spent 8 days in an incubator, alone.

Sometimes, I feel that way now. I feel like I’ve been left all alone in a dark little room and I don’t know if anyone will come for me. My tummy shakes. My heart pounds. Don’t leave me. I didn’t do anything. Please come for me.

My whole ministry is based on helping people identify their relationship style (avoidant, anxious, pleasing, chaotic) and move toward a secure style. I teach this weekly and walk through it with individuals, couples and groups. I’m so much better than I was. But it still effects me sometimes.

Just the other day, I talked to a client on the phone. They were hurting. I asked a few questions and then offered some insight. By this time, they felt worse than they did when we started. I know this happens sometimes. People go through hard times as they recover from trauma, abuse, difficult life situations, grief, etc. Sometimes they take 2 steps forward and 1 step backward on the process to healing.

And sometimes my anxiety spikes. Did I make it worse? Should I have kept my mouth shut? What if I caused more harm than good? Is this really what I should be doing?

My heart races and my palms sweat.

And then God speaks deep in my heart. Here’s what I sensed from him today:

“It’s OK. You didn’t do anything wrong. They will be OK. I’ll protect this person. You’re OK. I know your heart, sweet Carrie. You’re OK. It’s OK. I’ve got this under control. This person is healing in layers. It’s not your issue. Enjoy your life and trust me to deal with this. It’s OK.”

And you know what? I believe God has been whispering the words, “It’s OK. You’re OK” into my ear since I was a little girl.

He knows my heart. He knows my anxiety. He doesn’t want me to be afraid or anxious. He will never leave me or forsake me. He will always come for me. He sees my heart and knows the truth. He will contain my anxiety.

I’m not totally healthy, but it’s amazing to me that it’s in my anxiety that I sense God most, when I hear his words and feel his comfort. What if I never felt anxious? Would I know this part of God?

Interested in your relationship style? Click here!

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

Colorado Life Coach: Mom jeans on the bike trail :)

I’m kind of into biking this summer.

I bought toe clips, padded shorts, padded gloves without fingers, and a helmet. I look like a biker. I sort of like it.

Some days I feel really powerful. I can make it up the hills and down the long straight away without much trouble. I even pass some slower riders here and there and it feels great!

There’s always a few “really serious” bikers who go whizzing past. I give myself a break and think about how much longer they’ve been riding, or how much more they sacrifice to get into that kind of shape. I justify that I must live a more balanced life and keep things in perspective probably more than they do.

Wow! I’m so judgmental!

Of them.

Of myself.

It surfaced last weekend. I wasn’t in a great mood. I’d just had a “thing” with my husband and felt out of sorts when I left for the ride I thought would help me clear things up in my head.

Things were going along just fine. I had on all my gear and hit the trail.

And then I saw her.

Mom jean-shorts lady.

She was riding with her husband. She had on mom jeans (up to her belly-button) with a shiny belt and a t-shirt. What was she thinking? This was a bike trail, not an 80’s fashion show!

I passed her easily and felt a little better about myself.

I rode about 30 min. and turned around to ride home.

There she was again. Mom jeans on a bike.

Why did this urk me?

My heart started to soften and I realized a few things. Maybe you can relate:

1. When I feel bad about myself, sometimes I look for fault in others to make myself appear better.

2. I can be really judgmental sometimes.

3. This had nothing to do with her, and everything to do with me.

4. I had some soul work to do before I went home.

After I passed her the 2nd time, I actually pulled over and started to laugh. How ridiculous! What did this matter to me? Why do I have more right to be on the path than her? What makes me better than her? Why was I taking my hurt out on a lady I didn’t know?

I talked to God on the way home, Pretty silly, huh? It’s actually pretty cool that this woman is taking a bike ride with her husband. Lots of people use this trail to experience stress relief, exercise, enjoy nature, have fun, do something with someone they love. Thank you for this trail and all the people who get to enjoy it. Help me put my little issue into perspective, take responsibility for my actions, and reconcile with my husband.

I got home a few minutes later and was able to laugh with my husband about how I knew I was overreacting when I reacted so strongly to the lady in mom jeans. It wasn’t about her at all. It was about me.

Thank you, mom jeans lady!

How about you? Have you ever experienced a reaction like this to someone you didn’t even know? Have you ever gotten judgmental when you felt badly about yourself?

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



Colorado Life Coach: Ughh! The “J” word (Jealousy)

I’m almost 49 years old, and I still get jealous!

Sometimes I don’t recognize it’s jealousy. Maybe I read something on facebook and skip past it really quickly.

Then in gnaws on me.

So what if she published her book before me? So what if she has more facebook fans? So what if she’s prettier? So what if her kids are top of their class? So what if her husband is a vice-president of something? So what?

I’m I the only one?

I don’t wake up wondering who I might be jealous of today. That’s the thing about jealousy–you don’t see it coming, so you get hit out of the blue. It’s sneaky that way!

I’ve struggled with it my whole life, and I see others struggling with it right now:

*Someone has a boyfriend or girlfriend and you want to be happy for them, but you’re super jealous.

*Someone plays better than you (instrument, sports, games) and they don’t even work as hard. It’s not fair!

*He is really muscular and girls look at him all the time. You’re not built that way.

*Everyone seems to like him or her and you can’t seem to make good friends.

*They get to go on vacations every year, and you’ve never been.

*Their family always gets along and our fights all the time.

*She just bought that car I’ve wanted for years. We’ll never be able to afford it.

Why do other people’s lives look better than mine?

1. You only see what you are allowed to see. You have no idea what things are like in other people’s lives until you see their inner world, and it’s typically not as pretty. People tend to only share the good stuff. It’s great when you have people in your life where there is a mutual trust level that permits you to see each other in reality. No one has a perfect life. We all struggle and hurt.

2. Some people work really hard…maybe harder than us. Maybe they are as good as they are because they’ve sacrificed other things that we’re not willing to sacrifice. Maybe they’re so skinny because they suffer from an eating disorder. Maybe they have all the money because they’re never home and work all the time. Maybe they spend 6 hours a day at the gym and you’d rather spend the time with friends and family. Maybe they’re mortgaged to the hilt and threatened with bankruptcy.

3. Some people are in the right place at the right time. Are they just lucky? Maybe. Or maybe they prepared themselves so that if the right opportunity came along, they’d be ready. Maybe they worked on their emotional health so when an awesome person came along, they’d be ready for a relationship. Maybe they worked on their writing so when an opportunity to publish came along they were ready.

4. Maybe they’ve been preparing for this their whole life. What if you are only seeing the tip of the iceburg? What if you didn’t know how long it took them to accomplish what, to you, seemed like a very sudden success? What if you don’t know the pain they’ve experienced on the journey? What if the only way they could be where they are now was because of a painful experience that you’d never trade for their success?

When I felt the jealousy this time, I recognized it. I knew what it was. I talked about it with my husband and he helped me think through all these points above. It is what it is. I had a moment of jealousy. But I don’t have to stay there.

I have a purpose on this earth, and so do you. When I compare myself to others, I can’t see my own purpose. Here’s a facebook post I DID pause on soon after the jealousy hit:

“Be faithful where you are. God is responsible for how BIG your influence gets.” -Rick Warren

I got centered again. I remembered who I am. I have a purpose. It’s unique to me. I can’t be just like those other people, because I’m me. God’s in control of this, and I don’t need to worry or panic or be jealous. He’s got it all figured out and I’m just where I’m supposed to be.

Sure, I can still work on myself, grow, heal, learn, stretch, and choose great things for my life. But ultimately, God has the best plan for me, because he sees my whole life before I live it. If I settle down and trust him, I can be content with my purpose and the timing of things in my life without jealousy.

p.s. The day after the jealousy hit, I facilitated a relationship group for Young Adults. I was “in the zone” and totally where I was created to be. It doesn’t matter what anyone else does. I’ve found my purpose!

How about you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

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

Colorado Life Coach: Is Your Baseline Faulty?

What if you don’t see things accurately?

What if you thought you knew the truth about yourself, but you discover your view may not be correct?

What if your baseline is faulty?

How could this happen?

When you live with people who exhibit unhealthy behavior, and don’t have examples of what healthy behavior is, you don’t know any different.


*Your dad has an awful temper and embarrasses you in public. He berates waitresses and causes scenes in movie theaters. You are nowhere near as rude, but you tend to be short-tempered and irritable.

*Your mom criticized how you looked, your clothing, your weight, your walk, everything. You felt demeaned most of the time. You “make suggestions” to your teenage daughter, and she seems resentful.

*You were not allowed to disagree with your parents, or you’d be whipped and then ignored. Your children seem to go along with most of the things you want them to do. If they don’t you “try to change their minds,” or let them know how much it means to you.

*Your step-mom was a falling-down drunk. You swore you’d never be anything like her. You don’t even touch the stuff. You just tend to eat when you don’t want to feel. Your weight doesn’t affect anyone else, right?

*The women in your family stayed to themselves. You felt ignored and unimportant. You don’t ignore your kids, but you don’t engage much. It’s easier to keep believing you don’t need anyone than to risk that feeling again.

How is it that we can see it in them, but not ourselves? Our baseline is faulty.

We haven’t seen healthy character modeled, so we think anything better than what we experienced is OK. It’s not.

_________________________    Behavior we saw modeled



_________________________   Our behavior



_________________________   Healthy behavior


When our behavior is better than what was modeled, we think we’re doing great, until we understand that it is still not healthy.

People who behave poorly without realizing it, usually do it out of a fear of abandonment:

“If I don’t make this happen, they won’t want to be around me and I’ll be alone.”

“No one would invite me, so I’ll just arrive unannounced.”

“She didn’t really mean ‘no.’ I’ll convince her she really does want to do this.

“If I give them a choice, they’ll choose to be away from me.”

Our baseline is faulty.

What do we do about this?

1. Have compassion on yourself. You didn’t know what you didn’t know. It can be very painful to realize that you impact people in the same way the people who hurt you most impacted you. It is what it is. Acknowledge it, but don’t beat yourself up. Determine to change.

2. Pay attention. How do healthy people act? Watch people. Watch how respectful people treat others. Observe life. Watch other people as they interact with you. Are they careful around you? Do they shut down? Do they agree with you to avoid being hurt? Are they respectful of you because you’ve earned their trust? Just pay attention.

3. Decide to change. Pray. Ask God to be gentle with you unlike how others have treated you. Ask him to help you treat others with respect and dignity. Ask him to gently nudge you when your behavior isn’t healthy. Give people the dignity of having their own opinion.

4. Enlist help and support. When you are absolutely humble and sure you want to change, ask someone who knows you well and will be honest with you to point out when your behavior doesn’t match what you’d like it to be. Ask them to be gentle, but firm. And here’s the hard part: Listen to them and thank them. Don’t defend. Really listen. If you want to change, you have to listen to the people who see what you’re missing.

Your baseline may be faulty, but it’s movable! You can learn healthy behavior. You’re not a victim of your upbringing. You can change. It truly is good news!

If you’d like help overcoming a faulty baseline, check out the Broken and Brilliant Relationship Groups!

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


Colorado Life Coach: 10 Characteristics of a Conscious Marriage

Can a marriage be unconscious?


In the book, Getting The Love You Want: A Guide for Couples, by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., a conscious marriage is defined as: “a marriage that fosters maximum psychological and spiritual growth; it’s a marriage created by becoming conscious and cooperating with the fundamental drives of the unconscious mind: to be safe, to be healed, and to be whole.”

Sounds like a bunch of counseling mumbo-jumbo! What’s it mean?

Most of us don’t realize we look to our spouse for safety, healing and wholeness. We expect them to do these things without thinking about it. When they don’t, we’re disappointed in them.

Here are 10 characteristics of a Conscious Marriage:

1. You realize that your love relationship has a hidden purpose–the healing of childhood wounds. It’s amazing how we do day to day things without realizing there’s a little kid inside trying to fix something from the past. When we begin to recognize this, we will view everyday interactions differently. Confusing patterns in your relationship will start to make sense and you will feel more in control of your life.

2. You create a more accurate image of your partner. Early on in relationships, we can tend to idealize our partners, or subconsciously try to work through issues in our family of origin. Then we tend to project our negative traits onto our partner. We don’t see our partner in reality. As we drop these illusions, we can see our partner not as our savior, but as another wounded human being struggling to be healed.

3. You take responsibility for communicating your needs and desires to your partner. You drop the idea that your partner should read your mind, and develop clear channels of communication.

4. You become more intentional in your interactions. You stop reacting without thinking, and behave in a more constructive manner.

5. You learn to value your partner’s needs and wishes as highly as you value your own. You realize your partner’s sole purpose is not to magically make your life better, and you spend more energy meeting your partner’s needs.

6. You embrace the dark side of your personality. We all have negative traits, and we acknowledge them. As we accept responsibility for our dark side, we stop projecting onto our partner.

7. You learn new techniques to satisfy your basic needs and desires. You realize your partner can be a resource for you and stop using manipulation to get what you want.

8. You search within yourself for the strengths and abilities you are lacking. You were attracted to your partner because they had strengths and abilities you don’t, but you can develop these hidden traits within yourself.

9. You become more aware of your drive to be loving and whole. Because God created us, we have the ability to love unconditionally. You begin to live this out.

10. You accept the difficulty of creating a good marriage. In an unconscious marriage, you believe that the way to have a good marriage is to pick the right partner. In a conscious marriage you realize you have to be the right partner. As you gain a more realistic view of love relationships, you realize that a good marriage requires commitment, discipline, and the courage to grow and change; marriage is hard work.

If you’d like your marriage to move from unconscious to conscious, read this book, or contact me for marriage coaching, or one of my relationship groups!

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


Colorado Life Coach: 4 steps to Thankfulness

I’m just so thankful!

Not really for anything in particular today.

Bad things are still happening in the world. People I know are still hurting. People are still dying. Life is still really hard sometimes.

But I am different.

Life was sooo hard for such a long time. I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath. So many things were going poorly: multiple relationships, health, my emotions, sleep, anxiety, depression, family stuff. I was totally overwhelmed!

Have you ever felt that way?

Do you feel that way now?

So what changed?

I did.

It didn’t happen overnight. I’m not even sure I realized I was changing. I worked really hard because I knew something had to change or I wasn’t going to make it. In my quest for changing my circumstances, I learned a few things.

1. Boundaries. My boundaries stunk! They were so bad that the shrink I saw to medicate my sleep, anxiety and depression told me to teach a class on boundaries so I’d learn how to have them. So I did. I learned how to take care of myself physically and emotionally. I learned to only say “yes” to things I could do with a cheerful heart. I learned to allow others the freedom to say “no” to my requests without taking it personally or holding it against them. And I’m thankful.

2. Take responsibility. I took responsibility for my life. I heard about doing this my whole life, but somehow, it didn’t make it into my brain. I didn’t get it. I blamed. I defended. I criticized. I accused. I got defensive. It took a hard-nosed (I have a different word in my head, but don’t want to offend) recovering alcoholic to get in my face and make me realize that my life was my doing. It was not pretty-at all. If I had known how hard that journey would turn out to be, I don’t think I would have had the courage to do it. It broke me…and I’m thankful.

3. Get healthy. I stopped making excuses for my weight and my health. I worked through my emotional stuff with counselors until the issues from my past didn’t effect my present (at least not every time). I worked with doctors to get off my meds. I worked with a chiropractor to get my body in shape. And I’m thankful.

4. Choose healthy relationships. I deliberately chose friends who wanted to be healthy. I had to let go of some long-standing friendships because they were toxic. It’s really hard to get healthy when the people in your inner circle are not, and can’t see it. Wouldn’t it be great if, at the very moment you decided to grow, everyone you love jumped on the band wagon and joined you? It doesn’t typically happen that way. I had to walk away from people I really loved, but couldn’t be around. It was painful and lonely. And I’m so thankful.

It opened up space for me to make new, healthier friends. I thought about what I really wanted in a friend and came up with 4 things:

  • I wanted them to be able to handle my struggles without running away. I needed to know that if things got tough, they would stay.
  • I wanted them to share their struggles with me as well. I didn’t need another counselor. I needed a friend.
  • I didn’t want them to quote scripture at me in every conversation. I had been preached at enough. I certainly wanted people in my life who knew God and had a close relationship with Jesus. But I wanted a friend, not a pastor.
  • I needed them to be able to speak gently into my life. When they saw me sabotaging myself or falling into old patterns, I needed them to speak up!

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but gradually I noticed I wasn’t as anxious or mad or frustrated or irritated or unhappy.

I know life will still cause pain. People I love will die. Hard things will happen again.

But now I know how to grieve. I have good friends and a great family who won’t leave me in the tough times. I have a God who loves me more than I will ever understand. I’ve dealt with most of my junk, so when new things happen, I only have to deal with the issue at hand.

I’m so thankful!

If you’d like help moving toward a place of thankfulness, try coaching or my Relationship Groups: click here!

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


Colorado Life Coach: Wisdom from a bike rest stop

“If what you’re doing doesn’t make you happy, Change!

Ahh, wisdom in the graffiti on a bench I stopped at for a water break on my bike ride this morning.

Several years ago, I think this sign would have made me mad. What do you mean, change! If I could change it, I would!

Have you ever argued with graffiti?

Do you get defensive with something you overhear?

What’s that about?

Well, for me, I felt like a victim and didn’t think anything that was happening was my fault, so I couldn’t change it. I thought everything in my life was happening TO me. It was all about the circumstances.

And the circumstances were difficult.

Sayings like the one at the bike rest sound so easy. If you don’t like something, just change it. Like it’s a pair of pants. If they don’t fit right, just grab another pair.

What if the thing you’re not happy with is your job? Your kids? Your marriage? Your weight? Your family? Your finances? A huge loss? Yourself?

How do you change that?

1. Recognize your faulty thinking.

Many of us have faulty thinking. We’ve never learned that we are responsible for our lives and that we can make different choices. I know I didn’t. Oh sure, I heard the words before, but I didn’t understand them. I’m a pretty smart person, but I didn’t truly understand how my own attitude, patterns, anxiety, habits, character defects, and immaturity helped to create the life I was living.

Do you tend to see everyone else’s faults easier than your own? I did. I still do. It’s much easier for me to have insight into how or why my friend acted the way they did, and what they could do about it, than to see the same in myself.

2. Take responsibility.

You are the only one responsible for your quality of life. Most of us have been trained to blame others for things we don’t like, and take credit for things we do like. If you don’t like the people, circumstances, weather, traffic, etc. in your life, change your response.


3. Change your mind.

Stop allowing yourself to think negative thoughts. Each time you catch yourself doing this, think of something positive. Start daydreaming about positive things you’d like to see happen in your life.

Change your habits.

Read books that will help you do things you want to do.

Make healthier friends.

Only talk about your kids/spouse in a positive light.

Get financial help.

Find a new job.

Lose weight


Stop making excuses.

Sounds easy, but it’s not. It’s also not impossible. I didn’t believe I could change my thoughts. I truly believed that I had to think about what ever popped into my mind, and most of my thoughts were negative and blaming.

I was a victim of my own mind.

It took hard work, but I get it now.

Just because a thought pops into my mind, I don’t have to let it stay there. I can choose to think the best of someone, or see something good in a situation, or figure out a better thing to think about.

My life can change, because I change how I think about things.

I truly enjoyed my bike ride this morning. I listened to encouraging music, noticed the birds and creeks along the path, remembered how hard life used to be, and thanked God it’s easier now.

A few circumstances changed along the way, but most of them changed as a result of my attitude, emotional health, spiritual and relational growth, character growth, and maturity.

Still working on it, but enjoying the ride a whole lot more!

How about you? Care to share any graffiti wisdom?

Would you like to work on this in a safe place with other people wanting to grow? Click here!

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


Colorado Life Coach: Awesome Desperation

Can it be good to be desperate?

“My whole world is caving in

But I feel you now more than I did then

How can I come to the end of me

And somehow still have all I need?

God I want to know You more

Maybe this is how it starts

I find you when I fall apart.” from “I find you when I fall apart,” by Josh Wilson.

I know so many hurting people! Life is hard: finances, relationships, physical health, emotional health, loss, tragedy, violence. It can be overwhelming. Some people have been stuck in a rut for a very long time and need a breakthrough desperately.

Is there anything we can do to get us out of the rut, change our circumstances, fix our lives?

Yes…and no.


You may or may not be able to change your circumstances, but you can certainly change how you live in the midst of them. Are your circumstances due to bad habits, dysfunctional patterns, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, poor spending, lack of character, addictions, poor boundaries, failure to take responsibility, blaming others, or seeing yourself as a victim? If so, there’s great hope! You can change these things, and therefore change your circumstances! Isn’t that awesome?

It may not feel awesome. It might feel much better to keep the circumstances the way they are, so you don’t have to deal with the fact that part of you needs to grow up. I had a really hard time “putting on my big girl panties” in many areas of life. I’m still working on it! Recognizing that my actions, thoughts or patterns caused some of the hurt in my life was hard to swallow. The cool thing is, once I realized I played a part in it, I realized I could change it!


Desperation can be awesome! When it makes us realize that we messed up, hurt ourselves, hurt others, and can’t keep going this way, it can bring us to our knees.

Help me God! I can’t do this anymore! I don’t know what I’m doing! I’ve screwed it up! I’m a mess! I’ve hurt myself and I’ve hurt other people! Help me!

This is awesome desperation! The bible calls it godly sorrow. It’s when we truly understand how our lack of growth has impacted us and those we love. We feel it in our gut. It makes us sick!

It brings us to God.

It makes us really want to grow and change.

It’s awesome!


Here’s an oxymoron: To change your life, you have to give up trying harder. Surrender it to God. Stop doing it the way you’ve always done it. Trust Him. Let Him fix it.

But don’t just sit on the couch eating ice cream!

Look at yourself. Really. Be honest–not cruel, not filled with self-pity, not with loathing, just honest. Take responsibility. See where your character still resembles an 8 year old. Go beneath your anger and look at the hurts from your life. Have you grieved them? If not, they are still impacting you (and everyone around you) today. Are you out of control in any area?

Ask for help!

Call a really healthy friend, hire a coach, get a trainer, go to Celebrate Recovery.

And keep giving it to God. Don’t go back to the old way of doing things-it didn’t work.

Have you ever had an experience of awesome desperation? Tell me about it in the comments!

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


Contact Carrie O’Toole to schedule a confidential telephone call or appointment for coaching.