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  • Ricka Robb Kohnstamm

What happens when you keep your fingers on your own pulse?

A dear friend and I were chatting the other day about an opportunity that he may consider in the upcoming weeks. As with all changes, he is aware that this could present opportunities for growth as well as uncomfortable stretching. Maybe more income, maybe less time. Maybe more visibility in an important industry, maybe less autonomy. Lots to consider.

When I asked him how he felt about it, he said "I'm keeping my fingers on my own pulse."

And I instantly exhaled. Yes.

Often, the habitual behavior is exactly the opposite. We look outward for reassurance or reinforcement, looking at others' reactions to us as indication of approval or acceptance, reinforcement that we are making the right decision, heading in the right direction, being the right person.

But what would it be like if looking outward was only 1/8 of the puzzle and taking the time to do the hard work of looking inward for answers was the remaining 7/8?

Consider this...

1/8: When I visit my mom, she is crabby all the time, and it must be a reflection on me and my own deficiencies.

7/8: I notice that my mom seems really uncomfortable and the story I create is that she is upset with me. When I take my own pulse, I know that not everything is about me. It can't be. Perhaps I will open space for her and hope that she will share, so I can listen carefully for the bigger story, without assuming it is about me.

1/8: If my partner is super annoying and I have made my requests very clear, it is a pretty good indication that I am not worth listening to.

7/8: I notice that my partner is doing things that make me upset. When I take my own pulse, I realize this is not about him, it is about me and old tropes about "unawareness" of which I am extra sensitive. What does this tell me about me? And what do I want to do about it?

1/8: This new opportunity would look really good on my resume and would give me a nice pay bump and an impressive title, but I would lose a lot of freedom. I might not get this opportunity again and my dad thinks I should take it. I should jump at this before I lose out.

7/8: I notice how much external approval matters to me and that is OK. When I take my own pulse, I remember that having a calm, flexible, purpose driven work life matters too. I trust that I can balance all of these things and will know when the right combination presents itself. If this is it, I will know it. If not, I can be OK saying "no", trusting that the right thing will come along in time.

Instead of looking primarily outward, consider flipping the switch and building in time to take your own pulse. Listen carefully for your own wisdom, answers that are true for you and allow that to expand to take up 7/8 of the available space.

Notice what happens.

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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