Colorado Life Coach: God Really Likes Me!

Had some more intensive therapy last weekend! Welcome to my life.

In a weird way, I kinda like digging around, figuring it out, and trying new things.

I also kind of hate it. It’s hard work changing things I’ve done, or ways I’ve looked at things my whole life.

Well anyway, one of the things I need to change is how I fill myself up emotionally. I’ve known this is my responsibility in my head for a long time. I teach it, for goodness sake! For some reason, it hasn’t gotten all the way in–you know, like the layer of an onion, or something like that.

I’ve felt sad since the weekend. I think I’ve been grieving for that little girl inside me who really wanted people to take care of her little heart. I’m all grown up now, physically, but she’s still in there begging to be loved in just the right way.

Is it only me?

So, I’ve been talking to God about this. Sometimes I just think about it, and know he’s listening. Sometimes I write about it (some people call it journaling). It goes something like this: God, why is it so hard to change? Why do I still feel so needy? Why does it have to be so hard to change? Why can’t you just change_____(fill in the blank), and then I’d feel better?

I know God hears me. Sometimes I even hear him talking back to me. I have to watch who I say that too, because in the world of counseling and psychology, some people might think I’m Schizophrenic! Through the years, I’ve learned how to tell if it’s God talking to me. Click here, if you’d like to read more about that!

In the last few days, I’ve mainly been telling him how sad I am. I’m sad that some people don’t want as deep of a relationship with me as I want with them (or at least in the same way). I realize I need some more girlfriends–can I still use that term at age 49? I need people who will give me a big “yahoo!” when I have exciting news! I need several people to whoop and holler with me! That fills me up, and I can’t always get it from my husband (especially when he’s at work…with people in his office).

So, on goes the grieving, the praying, the recognizing I need some more friends.

And then…

I went to vote.

I went to the place I voted last year, but it’s not there anymore. I went to the post office, and a lady told me where to go (I get told where to go quite often). I thought I knew the place. I drove over and parked, but the place looked empty. Then this one lady walked out. I started to ask her if this was the right place and realized it was an old friend.

And here’s where God showed me how much he really likes me!!!

She said, “Oh my gosh, I was just going to call you today!”

You see, a small group of my friends have been meeting for a book club for a long time and I couldn’t do it while I was in school. They lost a few members and were just talking about inviting ME last night. She said they all wanted me to join!

Do you know how badly my heart needed to be invited?

Has your heart ever longed to be invited?

Do you know how much I needed this right at this very time?

I told her what I’ve been dealing with and how thrilled I was to be wanted!

Does God really like me, or what?

As a wise young man once told me, there are no positive coincidences!

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: 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: 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: 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: 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


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.




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