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  • Ricka Robb Kohnstamm

How often do you look up from the muck to consider the meta view? 

Day after day, many of us slosh around in the muck of life.

There are the messy and confusing relationships at work - the boss who says the right things but doesn't walk the talk, the coworker who stretches the truth when selling expensive products to customers, the supervisor who doesn't have adequate tools to support the eager young team member.

And there are the complicated dynamics in our families - the deep, empty hole that emerges after the death of a loved one or the loss of a child who no longer speaks to us. Or the overwhelming responsibility we feel for easing others' journeys through life.

And then there is the growing discomfort with a career that no longer fits. I. Just. Can't. Do. This. Anymore.

We dig in deeper, make the extra phone call, reword the email, gossip about the people making our life miserable, drink more wine, shut it down by not talking or shut it out by being unavailable.

The slog can feel endless and exhausting and often all we can see is what is right in front of our eyes.

Instead, look up from the muck to consider your big picture, your "why", your meta view. Notice how your values are aligned (or not) with the muck you are finding your way through, make the connections, connect the dots. And notice what happens.

Exhale, relax your shoulders, and consider these tools...

Set an intention to pause. Pausing can look like a weekend away in the quiet of the woods or a day at the seashore. But it can also look like taking an intentional deep breath with your eyes closed between changing diapers and answering the incoming email. It can feel like your hands wrapped around a warm tea cup or the surprising coolness of a wet park bench. When we pause, we create space to unhook from our habitual thinking pattern and can consider our "why". Watch for opportunities to pause, big and small, as though it was a treasure hunt. Because, actually, it is.

Flip the switch between lower mind and higher mind. Practice your ability to flip between lower mind ("I hate the way he only focuses on what he wants!") and higher mind ("He seems much more aware of his own needs that those of his employees.") Notice when you are in lower mind ("If she does that one more time I am going to lose my mind!") and then consciously practice reframing into higher mind ("I am feeling really stretched right now and perhaps I should step back for a few minutes to regain my perspective.") Notice that it takes awareness and work. Only in higher mind can we connect to the values that matter to us, to our "why".

  • I value connection.

  • I value integrity.

  • I value kindness.

  • I value competence.

  • I value equanimity.

Create reminders. Don't assume you will remember your meta view, especially when you are deep in the muck. Create visual reminders and put them where you will see them - your calendar, your bathroom mirror, the coffee maker.

  • Modeling courage and commitment, rather than having all the solutions, matters to me.

  • Being seen and heard matters to me. I want to continue to show up for myself.

  • Living with healthy boundaries is critically important to me. I will pay attention to my own boundaries and those of others.

  • Taking the time to listen deeply to others matters.

  • Giving myself permission to take the time to know who I am, at this point in my life, matters.

Being in the muck is an important component of a whole hearted life. Staying aligned with your "why", while sitting in the muck, is the critical, often missing, component.

Actions, aligned with values, support optimal health.


Hello, I'm Ricka.

Ricka Kohnstamm Executive & Physician Coach Profile Photo

I'm a Nationally Board Certified (NBC-HWC) Integrative Health and Wellbeing Coach. I specialize in working with physician leaders, corporate leaders, non-profit executives and their families to navigate complex work and personal issues so they can strengthen their relationships, heal, and feel hopeful about the future again. 



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