Colorado Life Coach: How to keep your head from exploding in anger!


Red face




We’ve all felt it. Sometimes it sneaks up on us. Sometimes it festers for a looong time: days, weeks, years, or even decades!

Do you find yourself irritated at little things? Does someone looking at you wrong cause you to want to punch something? Do you find yourself really annoyed at people on the road? They either drive too fast or too slow, or maybe you’re just mad that they exist.

Sometimes we get angry at things no one else seems to mind. What’s up with that?

Sometimes we are angry at things that would make ANYONE angry. It’s justifiable.

Anger management. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to manage my anger. I want to deal with it, heal, and discover that I’m no longer angry.

Anger isn’t good or bad, it’s just an indicator of something that needs to be dealt with. The problem comes when we don’t deal with the original issue. Then we find ourselves angry with, and at people who don’t necessarily deserve it (like the grandpa driving down the highway, minding his own business).

Were you allowed to be angry as a kid? Did your parents say, “Wow, I can see you’re really angry. Want to talk about it?” If so, you probably don’t have anger issues. If not, well…join the club!

Several years ago, I found myself angry all the time. Everyone irritated me! Why were they so annoying? Why did every little thing set me off? What was wrong with me?

I realized I needed to do something so I could stop hurting my family and scaring my kids. I didn’t want to be an angry person. I went for some counseling and found out that anger wasn’t really my issue. I was really hurt and sad, but I didn’t know how to express that, so it came out as anger.

Here is an exercise I used to deal with anger:

It’s based on the account of Jesus cleansing the temple from John 2:13-16. “Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, ‘Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!'”

The bible tells us our bodies are the Temple of God. Jesus didn’t mess up the temple, other people did. Sometimes things happen in our lives that are not our fault. We didn’t mess up our lives, other people did. (Maybe we did after that as well, but much of what we’re dealing with here is stuff that happened to us).

Even so, Jesus took responsibility to clean up the temple. He didn’t demand that those who messed it up clean it. He didn’t refuse to clean it up because it wasn’t his fault. He cleaned it up. The same is true with us. We can demand that those who messed us up do the work to fix it, or we can refuse to clean it up because it wasn’t our fault. Or, like Jesus, we can take responsibility and clean it up.

Look at how Jesus did it:
1. He prepared.
He made a whip. Think about that. How long would it take to find leather strips and weave them together into a whip. How do you think he felt? Was he angry? I picture him fuming as he braided the whip. Maybe thinking about how it wasn’t his fault. How dare they do this to him!

How about you?
Prepare. Write lists of people or events that hurt you, and how it affected you. Write letters to those who hurt you. Think about things you needed to process as a child and couldn’t. Think of all the areas of your life these events or people impacted. Think of how the bitterness and resentment have robbed you of joy and healthy relationships.

2. He dealt with his anger and cleaned up the mess.
He acted! He used his physical strength and his words. I don’t think he spoke quietly to the money changers. I think he screamed at them.

How about you?
Deal with it and clean up the mess. Find a time when you can be home alone for an hour or two. If you can’t do that, at least make sure you will not be disturbed. Get out a tennis racket or find a punching bag or a pillow. As you read your lists or letters, put your body and your vocal chords into it! Scream at the people and beat the racket on your bed or punch a pillow or punching bag. If you’re not home alone, scream into the pillow! Get it out. Keep at it until you have no strength left. Go for it. You may feel weird, but push through it! This is your chance to get rid of some of this!

I did this a couple of times as I worked through anger at a few different people. Each time, I did it in the evening and kept going until I was exhausted. I just climbed into bed and slept. It was amazing how much better I felt in the morning. I was then able to let go of the anger and forgive.

This type of exercise can help clean up anger from your past. Then, as you move on, deal with anger in the moment, so it doesn’t build up.

If it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me!

Try it and let me know what you think!

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



Colorado Life Coach: A Lesson from Brennan Manning

Brennan Manning died this week.

Lots of people died this week.

I loved Brennan Manning. He was at the same time a mess, a fabulous writer, an alcoholic, and sober. Many other things as well.

About a decade ago, I was in bad shape. I was on medication for depression and anxiety and then I stopped sleeping…literally! At one point, I didn’t sleep for 5 months straight. I thought I was going to die.

People volunteered to clean my house, make meals, pick up my kids from school. I hardly functioned. So, I went to see a psychiatrist. I had so many questions about why this was happening to me, and how to make it stop.

My doctor read this story from Brennan Manning’s, Abba’s Child:

“Thornton Wilder’s one-act play ‘The Angel That Troubled the Waters,’ based on John 5:1-4, dramatizes the power of the pool of Bethesda to heal whenever an angel stirred its waters. A physician comes periodically to the pool hoping to be the first in line and longing to be healed of his melancholy. The angel finally appears but blocks the physician just as he is ready to step into the water. The angel tells the physician to draw back, for this moment is not for him. The physician pleads for help in a broken voice, but the angel insists that healing is not intended for him.

The dialogue continues–and then comes the prophetic word from the angel: ‘Without your wounds where would your power be? It is your melancholy that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men and women. The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living. In Love’s service, only wounded soldiers can serve. Physician, draw back.’

Later, the man who enters the pool first and is healed rejoices in his good fortune and turning to the physician says: ‘Please come with me. It is only an hour to my home. My son is lost in dark thoughts. I do not understand him and only you have ever lifted his mood. Only an hour…There is also my daughter: since her child died, she sits in the shadow. She will not listen to us but she will listen to you.'”

My doctor asked if I had ever prayed for God to use me. “Yes!” Then this is a gift.

He explained that in the story, the physician suffered from melancholy (depression) just as I did. The angel did not allow him healing at that point. The physician could help people others couldn’t, specifically because he understood their pain.

Years later, I understand that if I had not gone through what I did, I could not help others going through similar struggles. In graduate school, I learned that counselors can only take people as far as they’ve been willing to go themselves.

One day soon after this, I was on my way to teach a bible study. I prayed as I heard other people, “God take me completely out of this today.” I thought he would appreciate my humble prayer. Instead I heard,

“No!” I don’t want a robot to teach this class. I chose you! You have been through a lot and people feel safe talking to you. You are funny. You have a way of drawing people out. I won’t take you completely out of this today, because I put you there.”


Brennan Manning introduced me to the concept of a wounded healer. Now I can honestly say I wouldn’t trade the pain of my earlier years for anything.

How about you? Have you experienced the struggle of denied healing? Does this story help you see it in a new light?

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

Colorado Life Coach: Ingredients for Growth


Are you tired of it?

Do you want it to change?

Is there something you have lived with for a long time, and you’re sick of it?


Bad Character Traits

Emotional Pain


Patterns you can’t seem to change

Are you stuck with it the rest of your life, or can you actually change?

Here’s the good news: You can change! Anyone can change! Other people have done it, and you can too!

3 things are needed for change:

1. Recognition that it’s bad. Time needs to go by without change. “I wish this part of me would change.” I tried to change, but there is no change. I realize it’s bad.

2. Respond. There are two responses to a lack of growth:

  • Cut it down! The legalistic response to a bad situation is judgment, condemnation, and negativity. If we don’t learn and grow, we get very judgmental! We don’t only judge ourselves, but others as well. We cut ourselves down. We cut others down. Negativity takes over. Judgement is the end of anything good happening. In effect, it’s the “sentencing.”
  • Sorrow. “I’m sad about what my lack of growth is costing me.” I have to get out of my shame to see the loss that not growing has cost.

3. Bring in an advocate! Create a safe zone with no condemnation. Stop the judgment. Don’t condemn.


Groups must be a “no-fly” zone for guilt, shame, and condemnation. When we allow others to experience us, they can step into our voices of shame and break the cycle. A group can save me from my own “cut it down” response.

Groups administer grace!

When we’re alone, we live in a closed system. It’s just us and our thoughts. Groups open the system with new energy to reverse the downward spiral. They provide a path.

Groups allow people to open their hearts, heads, and souls to other people. This is God’s design. This is not Plan B. This is the way it was always meant to be. We were designed to be dependent on each other.

A great group needs to be a place where I am encouraged, and feel free to share things I feel most badly about. People don’t like their brokenness and neediness. It’s hard to say “I’m weak,” or “I need you.”

3 Ingredients for growth:

In Luke 13, Jesus told a parable about a fig tree. The tree hadn’t produced fruit for 3 years and the owner wanted to cut it down. He told the keeper of the vineyard that it was just taking up space. The keeper told him to do 3 things to see if it would bear fruit. Dig around, fertilize, and give it another year.

  1. Dig around. We need truth in our lives. What is really going on? Am I willing to look at my life and take responsibility for my situation and what I need to do to change it? I need a reality check. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139: 23-4)
  2. Fertilize. We need grace and we can’t get it from inside ourselves. Groups can provide what we can’t. Groups can be life support for people trying to grow.
  3. Time. Give it time. Time does not heal all wounds. Time plus growth, support, and a safe place heals.

Like the fig tree, our growth needs to be free of toxins:


People in denial give infections to others through their advice. You can’t help others if you don’t see your own need for growth.

You can only take people as far as you’ve been willing to go yourself.

Looking for a group to allow you this kind of change? Join us in Breckenridge, CO, May 5-7 for our Broken & Brilliant Relationship Group Intensive.

This material taken from a talk on small groups by Dr. Henry Cloud.

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




Colorado Life Coach: Victim, Survivor, or Thriver

Life is hard.

Most of us don’t make it through life without trauma of some kind.

Were you raised by alcoholic or drug addicted parents? Did you experience loss through the death of a family member or pet, divorce, a move, or illness? Were you involved in a horrible car accident or violent crime? Was your innocence taken by force? Were you betrayed by someone who should have loved you?

These and many other circumstances cause trauma in our lives.

The path back to wholeness often goes through 3 phases:

Victim, Survivor and Thriver.

Sometimes it takes time to fully understand the impact of an event that has happened. There is usually a period of denial and bargaining with God to make this awful truth, not be true. Anger and deep sadness follow. Forgiveness is the path out of hopelessness and despair. Joy will return if you work through the previous emotions and stages.

Problems develop when you get stuck.


Most people pass through this stage. Helplessness, anger, self-pity, inability to see choices, hoping to be rescued.

The victim feels:




Controlled by memories, depression, anxiety, hatred, bitterness, revenge

Physical symptoms






Sense of no future, preoccupied with the past

Out of control

There is a payoff to identify as a victim. People feel sorry for you and you can avoid responsibility for your life. If you don’t learn from the experience, you are likely to repeat the trauma or victimization. Victims often turn to food, alcohol or other substances to numb the pain.


Time does not heal wounds. Time plus an intentional period of grief, heals wounds. Grief is the only emotion you must enter into willingly. If you avoid it, you will not heal.

Survivors enter a time of grief and start to feel a sense of satisfaction of having gotten through mostly intact. They begin to feel strong. They start to understand they have choices and resources.

The survivor:

Recognizes potential to change and grow

Lives one day at a time

Begins to take control

Starts to heal

Lives moderately well

Is neutral about life; not depressed, but not happy

Realizes that they are outside the trauma, they have gotten through it

Realizes the suffering has lessened

Confronts the trauma

Begins to integrate it into their life

Begins to resolve their guilt

Is committed to healing, trusting, and restoring boundaries

Is influenced by, but not controlled by the past

Feels mostly back to normal

Many people stop here. The work is hard. They are tired of working on stuff. It’s fine to take a break here and there, but this is not the end game.


This is where it feels like whatever you experienced was almost worth it. You are active in life and committed to move forward. You plan for the future and are self-determined.

The thriver:

Feels joy daily

Masters goals

Sees themselves as a valuable person, not a victim

Reaches out to others

Finds meaning and purpose

Has grown from the trauma

Lives well

Experiences resolution of guilt

Is generally satisfied with life

Perceives they have moved beyond trauma

Feels peace, happiness, renewal, commitment to life, optimism—despite scars

Is committed to physical health

Is committed to loving again

Feels strong, compassionate-able to connect with others who are suffering

Has learned coping skills

Has a sense of humor

Is resilient, renewed

Finds ordinary life interesting, does not need “adrenaline fix”

Is open to possibilities

Where are you in this process? If your trauma occurred recently, you may identify as a victim. That’s OK. If it’s been years and you still identify yourself as a victim, it’s time to work your way into being a survivor, and then a thriver.

If you’d like me to coach you through this process, click here.

For a licensed professional counselor, call 1-800-NEW-LIFE.

From: The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook
A Guide to Healing, Recovery, and Growth

Written by Glenn R. Schiraldi, Ph.D

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

Colorado Life Coach: How to Fight

Do you ever disagree with someone you love?

How do you go about resolving the issue?

Some people ignore it and hope it will go away. It won’t.

Some people scream, intimidate, and demand their own way. Others might back down out of fear, but this is not resolution.

How did the family you grew up in fight? Chances are, you do the same thing. Isn’t that always how it is? Even though we don’t like the way things were, if we don’t consciously do something different, we end up doing it the same way.

Like many things in my life, I never gave much thought to how I fought, until life fell apart and I had to deliberately learn new ways of relating. Through my own counseling, and then in grad school, I learned some communication techniques that helped me:

*Make intentional choices in difficult situations

*Stay in control

*Think through what I was really trying to say

*Really listen

*Take turns

C.S. Lewis said, “Don’t wait until you love people to act on their behalf. Act on their behalf, and you will come to love them.”

Make intentional choices in difficult situations

Stop. Slow down. Think. Engage your brain. Breathe. Pray. Stay calm. Go for a walk. These are not easy things when you feel irritated or angry, but they can help you act instead of react. Make a choice to think before you speak. Make a choice to remember you love the other person and they are not your enemy. Make a choice to only speak calmly. Make a choice to listen without getting defensive. I’m not a victim. You’re not a victim. Make a choice to take responsibility for your thoughts, words, actions. If you blow it, apologize.

Stay in control

You don’t have to engage when you’re out of control. Tell the other person you don’t feel you can stay in control, so you need to leave for a short time. Call a friend, take a run, pray and ask God to help you calm down, write about it, find a way. Only engage in disagreements when you can stay calm. Arguing when one or both people are out of control is dangerous and can have lasting effects physically and emotionally. Don’t do it! If you can’t figure out how to do this on your own, ask a pastor, coach, or counselor to mediate so things don’t get out of hand.

Think through what I was really trying to say

Keep it about feelings. Most people blame, then the other person gets defensive. “You did this!” “Well, if you wouldn’t have…then I wouldn’t have…” On and on it goes-no where! What if you got beneath the anger and found your hurt? What if you expressed yourself in a vulnerable way? It’s scary. You’ll feel exposed. Sometimes this is the very thing needed to break through the disagreement.

“I felt like a little kid getting in trouble by the principal and I wanted to hide and cry.”

“I was horribly embarrassed and it reminded me of the time…”

“I felt so misunderstood and didn’t know how to respond.”

“I just really miss you and I’m scared.”

“My feelings overwhelm me.”

Our loved ones will respond to our vulnerability much better than accusations, attacks, labeling or judging. Without taking the time to think through what is really going on, we’ll stay on the level of accusing. There’s usually something deeper going on, and we’re not totally honest if we don’t take the time to look a little deeper.

Really listen

True listening can only take place when the listener remains calm. You don’t have to take on the other person’s problem. Just listen. Hear them. What are they trying to say? Can you get under their anger to hear their hurt or fear?

This is our chance to provide a safe place for those we love to land. We can be the one who tries to understand where they are coming from. We can provide clarity in their confusion. We don’t need to agree, disagree, advise or defend. We can just listen and see if we can understand.

This is huge!

We don’t have to fix it all! Most of the time, the people we disagree with are very intelligent people! They can figure it out. They may just need someone to talk to. They may just need to be heard. They may just need to know we care.

Take turns

When each person knows they will get a chance to speak and each will do their best to listen for understanding, most issues can be resolved.

Red flags: If you fear for your safety, one or the other cannot calm down, or things escalate, please seek help. If you never learned how to fight fair, it just means you weren’t taught. This is a skill that any willing person can learn.

Change your families future now. Learn how to fight!

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

Colorado Life Coach: The Message We Send

“You talk too much!”

“You’re really shy.”

“What were you thinking?”

“You think you’re perfect?”

We have lots of experience with people telling us who they think we are, and whether they approve. How much of that stays with us through our lives?

I’m a serious extravert! That means I get energy from being with people. It also means I can hardly think without words coming out of my mouth. For my introverted friends who think things through in a thoughtful manner and then say something profound, this is baffling. It can seem like I’m rambling, and maybe I am. The thing is, what they do internally, I do externally. Sometimes it feels like I’m going to explode if I have something I need to process and can’t find someone to talk to.

“You never have to wonder what SHE’S thinking!”

I heard that often growing up, and not necessarily in a positive way. As an adult, someone close to me said, “Just because you learned it, doesn’t mean we all have to learn it!” Because of these and other statements, I’ve tried to send the message that I don’t need to speak up. I used to be super outgoing and could make friends anytime, anywhere. Through the years, I noticed myself holding back. I didn’t want people to tell me to shut up because I talked too much. It hurt.

So I held back.

Several years ago, my husband and I attended The Ultimate Leadership Workshop, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. We spent a week in California learning about leading from your character, what our character weaknesses were, and processing this in groups. My group told me late in the week that I needed to speak up sooner They noticed I usually let everyone else go before I would make a comment.


I had tried so hard to stop what I thought was annoying to people, and now they were asking me to speak sooner and more often. They valued what I had to say.

Like many people, I’ve experience some tough things in life, and I’ve learned much from it. One of my gifts is sharing what I’ve learned with others. I love researching, processing the information, and figuring out how to share it with those I love. I’m good at it, and it’s been helpful to others.

And I still struggle with feeling I have nothing to offer.

I’m currently running a relationship group that I developed. It’s really great information and I believe it can help change people’s lives. Yet, I struggle figuring out how to talk about it. I don’t want to sound egotistical, or that I’m trying to force my information down people’s throats.

Yesterday I got an email from a current member of my group. She told me she thought I had undersold the group with my promotional flyer. From her email:

“You didn’t undersell it in your intro with us last week (ie: you can change your legacy), but I’m not sure if your pdf. encompasses the breadth of it. I really am crazy excited about this class. I left feeling privileged too, like you’re probably one of the few people that have ever done so much research on attachment, that I was privy to something life-changing. I have high hopes after last week, ‘cuz it was just that good!”

Wow! Sometimes I forget that what I have learned really is important and others could benefit. The messages I received have been holding me back. I don’t want my fear of being told it’s not important and no one wants to hear what I have to say to stop me from getting this message to those who truly want it.

It may not be for everyone! But it is for many! I’ve been given a message of hope and healing and I’m going to share it with anyone who wants it.

How about you? What have the messages you received told you, and how do they effect the messages you send about yourself?

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


Colorado Life Coach: Misunderstood

That’s not what I meant…

You don’t understand…


Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever felt totally misunderstood, misrepresented, unheard, slandered, or betrayed. I have. Many times. And then again last week.

It hurts. I hear myself protesting inside my head. The defensiveness starts. I want to explain. It’s not fair. It’s not even reality. And yet…there’s nothing I can do.

I reached out to someone I haven’t had a relationship with for several years. They needed help and I had a resource, so I offered it. They didn’t even notice that I tried to help.

The message screamed at me on facebook.

My character was assaulted. Wow! I have struggled with anxiety in the last decade and have made a lot of progress in this area over the last few years. The shakes in my stomach and chest returned with a vengeance. This felt so familiar! In fact, I was amazed at how quickly the feelings returned, as if I hadn’t made any progress in this area at all.

I wrestled with how to respond, if I should respond. What could I possibly say? I talked to my husband and my coach. I prayed. God answers prayer in the most interesting ways. Here’s what I saw posted on Facebook several times that day:

“When a gentleman is confronted by arguments that he considers foolish, he does not attempt to refute them with reason. Instead, he keeps silent knowing that logic is useless in the war against irrationality.” (From the book, As a Gentleman Would Say)

I pulled out one of my favorite books, Safe People, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend (I know, I’m weird). Here are the personal traits they list for people who are unsafe:

1. Unsafe people think they “have it all together” instead of admitting their weaknesses.

2. Unsafe people are religious instead of spiritual.

3. Unsafe people are defensive instead of open to feedback.

4. Unsafe people are self-righteous instead of humble.

5. Unsafe people only apologize instead of changing their behavior.

6. Unsafe people avoid working on their problems instead of dealing with them.

7. Unsafe people demand trust instead of earning it.

8. Unsafe people believe they are perfect instead of admitting their faults.

9. Unsafe people blame others instead of taking responsibility.

10. Unsafe people lie instead of telling the truth.

11. Unsafe people are stagnant instead of growing.

I have been an unsafe person. I still can be when I feel defensive or want to prove I’m right. I have been in relationship with many unsafe people, and it’s not a good place to be.

And, I’m getting healthier. I can recognize unsafe people more quickly than before. The “red flags” are brighter and I have learned to trust my discernment in this area.

I still have to take the hurt to God. Last week, I told him how much it hurt, how unfair it was, how I know I can be proud, but in this case I wasn’t. In that way that he does, God comforted me. He loved me.

He understood.

And that’s the whole point. No matter how many people misunderstand me, misinterpret my intentions, hate me, blame me, betray me, slander me, or spit in my face, God understands.

He’s the one that matters.

Can you relate? Please share your thoughts below.

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

Colorado Life Coach: Are you stuck?

Are you stuck?


“Grief is the one pain that heals all others. It is the most important pain there is.” Henry Cloud and John Townsend, from How People Grow.

Have you ever felt like you couldn’t move forward in some area of your life? Maybe it’s in your career, with friendships, your finances, your health, or romantic relationships. If you trace it back, you got stuck somewhere and haven’t been able to move forward. What’s the deal with that?

If you got stuck early in life, you may find you react to situations that remind you of the time you got stuck. You may even react as if you were the same age as when you got stuck. Isn’t that weird to think of a middle-aged man or woman reacting as if they’re an adolescent? Not really! When you experience a hurt, a crisis, or some sort of trauma, you can get stunted in that place. You then react to similar hurts at the maturity level from the first hurt.

You’re stuck!

Whenever your feelings about a particular situation seem out of proportion to what has happened, you may actually be responding to a prior situation without realizing it.

Your spouse says something and you respond defensively. Was it really about what he or she said? Or did it bring up an old hurt that hasn’t been worked through?

Your boss asks you to do something you feel is beneath your job description. You respond as if they don’t respect you and feel rebellious. Is the boss really thinking you are not capable of more, or did you feel that way earlier in life and it still triggers you?

You can’t ever seem to get ahead financially. Is it really about the money, or might it have something to do with a parent or teacher who told you, “You’ll never amount to anything?”

You have difficulty moving forward in romantic relationships. Is the person wrong for you, or do you need to grieve a past, hurtful relationship?

I am a Board Certified Christian Life Coach. I have my own coach, Shannon Ethridge. Coaching has helped me get unstuck from so many areas in my life: fear, doubt, moving forward with my ministry, marriage issues, parenting issues, weight loss and physical health.

Shannon and I talk about grief a lot! We’re just that fun!! She meets regularly with a group of counselors and coaches to talk about life, relationships, etc. Her group is affectionately called, Shrink Rap. I’m starting my own Shrink Rap group here in Colorado. Anyway, her group realized that:

Almost every problem their clients’ face can be traced back to unresolved grief.

Are you stuck?

There’s a simple way out. Grieve.

It’s not an easy way out, but it is simple.

How do you grieve, you may ask?

Book volumes have been written on this subject, so my little blog is not going to resolve this complicated issue fully. I can offer this:

1. Write about it. Pray. Ask God to help you figure out where you got stuck and what needs to be grieved. Be courageous. Face it. Deal with it. Don’t run away. Don’t numb yourself to the pain. Don’t ignore it and pretend it didn’t happen. It happened and if it still impacts you, it’s not in the past.

2. Deal with fear. What are you afraid of? Write about it. Are you afraid it will happen again? Are you afraid you’ll never move past it? Do you fear your loved ones can’t handle it? Do you trust God to help you deal with it? You don’t have to resolve your fears, just acknowledge them.

3. Deal with anger. Were you allowed to be angry growing up? Does anger scare you? What would happen if you really allowed yourself to feel the anger that’s been buried?

4. Deal with sadness and loss. Did you cry over your early losses? Were you sent to your room if you expressed sadness? Did you learn to stuff your feelings? Write about it. Find a good friend and express your sadness to them.

“God put our tear ducts in our eyes. Grief is a relational experience, and our pain has to be seen eye to eye with another person. Someone should be looking at us when we are crying, and we should be looking at him or her. Then, we are not alone and our tears are seen and heard. Then, as Jesus tells us, ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted’ (Matt. 5:4).” Cloud and Townsend.

5. Forgive the other person and yourself. “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Lewis B. Smedes.

6. Feel the joy! Live! Move on! Get unstuck!

It’s not easy, but it is simple. If you need help getting unstuck, click here:

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


Colorado Life Coach: I am an addict!

I came home from a weekend retreat and said to my husband, “I am an addict.”

Addicts, in my mind, had always been shady characters living behind dumpsters downtown. They weren’t the “pretty people.” They certainly weren’t me! My addiction wasn’t crack or whiskey. Mine was anger. I couldn’t live without it. It controlled me, and those around me suffered the consequences.

Addiction: compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.

There’s the obvious addictions (sometimes obvious to everyone, but the addict):

Alcohol, Drugs and Nicotine

What about the hidden addictions:

Pornography, Sex, Gambling, Prescription Medication

Or the socially acceptable addictions:

Shopping (spending), Work, Church, Eating, Sugar, Codependency, Working Out

Through the years, I’ve struggled with anger, codependency, anti-depressants, and codependency. How about you? Does your family brace themselves when they know you are angry? Do they hide, ignore, or plead with you to stop? Has anyone expressed concern for your weight, how much you work, how many church activities you’re involved in? Do you have bills you can’t pay for, but you continue to shop? Do you wish you didn’t (fill in the blank) anymore, but can’t seem to stop?

What’s this all about? What pain are you trying not to feel?

I dealt with my 4 addictions in different ways. When I returned from that weekend aware that my anger controlled me, I felt totally heartbroken over what I’d done to my family. I grieved. I wept. I cried almost constantly for about a week, sometimes so hard I felt like I would throw up! It was painful to realize the fear I’d caused my family. As the week came to an end, I felt different. I was not angry. I didn’t feel the need to scream or rage at anyone. I don’t really know what happened, but I pleaded with God to take this from me. I believe he did.

After using anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication, and medicine for sleep, it wasn’t so easy to stop. Through therapy, I knew I was emotionally healthier than I had been in years. I didn’t need the meds for the reason they had been prescribed. I needed them physically. For 6 weeks, my body detoxified itself. I had horrible aches and pains, fever, sweats and chills, and headaches. I worked with my doctor to help alleviate some of the side effects. I gained a new sense of compassion for anyone going through detox!

Codependency is an extreme dependence on another person’s emotional well being. We are supposed to be responsible FOR ourselves and TO each other. When we take that too far, we can’t separate what the other person is doing from ourselves.

I couldn’t break this one with just me and God. I needed help. I voluntarily found a sponsor, and worked a 12-step program. It was not pretty. The irony of this was that I was completing my last semester of graduate school with a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy as I was working my 12-steps. I graduated while in the middle of step 5! It’s kind of funny now, but at the time, I felt like a total sham!

Sugar. I think most Americans have this addiction and don’t even know it. I didn’t think I did…until I tried to give it up. I’m not that into sweets, so I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal. Then I realized that bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes turn into sugar once they’re in your system. I quit cold turkey, and suffered about 2 weeks of headaches, flu-like symptoms, hot flashes, aches and general misery. Once it was out of my system, I felt much better! I lost weight and gained energy. Now I can have sugar and carbs in small quantities. Some people can’t. If they have any sugar, they can’t stop. I’m thankful that’s not me.

I’m not sure who this blog post is for. Maybe someone really needs to read this today. Maybe it’s just to help me remember where I’ve been and thank God I’m not there anymore. If it impacted you, please leave a comment below!

Written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole


Colorado Life Coach: Music Theory and God–Ear Training

“The music’s all around us…all you have to do is listen.” –August Rush.

Can you match a pitch? Can you sing along with your favorite songs? Can you tell when someone else is out of tune?

Some people are practically born singing little songs and making up melodies. They have an obvious musical gift. Some have perfect pitch. They can listen to a song on their ipod and start playing along on the piano or another instrument. They don’t have to ask what key it’s in, because they already KNOW. Without being told, they can hear and name any pitch. Most of us are somewhere in between.

Some people have been told they can’t carry a tune in a bucket. I hate that phrase. It’s unfair and untrue. Many people have a very small range. They can sing in tune with 4 or 5 notes and sound great. The problem is, most songs are not written in their range. When they try to sing along, they are too high or too low and they don’t know why they can’t match the pitch. No one told them this is a skill that can be learned. They just thought they’d never be able to sing (in front of other people).

The same is true for hearing God’s voice. Some people trust God from an early age and enjoy a life of talking with and hearing from God. Many of us are told God doesn’t speak to us anymore. Others have been told you’d have to be crazy if you thought you heard God speaking to you.

God is speaking all around you…all you have to do is listen.

And know what to listen for.

It’s ear training, but it’s not about intervals. It’s about hearing God speak into your heart. When I first prayed for God to speak to me, I realized:

1. I needed to know him, know what the bible says about who he is, and understand he will never tell me something that contradicts what he’s already said.

2. I needed confirmation that what I really thought I heard, I heard.

3. I needed to be able to tell the difference between my thoughts, lies that came at me, and God’s voice.

If you don’t know him and would like to, please contact me.


I realized that one of the ways God speaks to me is by repeating a theme over and over in a short period of time. When my kids were in 4th and 5th grades, they asked me to home school them. This was not part of my plan. I had been a music teacher, but the thought of home schooling never crossed my mind. I prayed about it. All of a sudden, everywhere I went, the word home school popped up. I met a new friend. What does she do? She home schools her kids. I listened to the radio. There was an ad for a home school curriculum. I went to my bible study and they were discussing the same verse I had just read on the curriculum I had just seen. It went on and on and on. I got the point. I told the kids we would home school for 1 year and see how it went. We home schooled for 3 years through middle school before putting them back in school for high school. It was 3 of the best years with my kids! I have many other examples of this kind of thing happening.

His voice…or?

In my life, God’s voice sounds like my own voice. The thing is, he is much kinder and gentler than I am. I’ve learned that if my heart is sincere and my pride is not on the line, I can hear God speak gently. Not always. Not everyday. Not even when I really want. But, sometimes. Sometimes I wake up and have a thought (like this morning when I had this idea about ear training and God speaking). Sometimes I’m writing in my journal and I ask God a question and I hear a few words that speak right into my heart.

Usually I hear how much he loves me, how beautiful I am, that it will be OK, that he’s in control and I’m not.

The reason I know it’s not just my imagination is because I would never think these thougths.

When I hear something mean, cruel, vicious, or hurtful, I know it’s not God. That goes against everything I know about his character from the bible. He will not contradict himself. The negative thought may come from my own worry or selfishness, but sometimes it comes from a lie I heard earlier in my life and still believe. Sometimes it’s just plain evil and I have to change the focus of my thoughts.

Ear training…it’s not just for music!

Click for more on How God Speaks.

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

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