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  • Ricka Robb Kohnstamm

When did you tip from feeling committed to feeling trapped? 

Life seems to be going along relatively well... you've made smart choices; you've reached high and you've given your all to your organization. You're building a lucrative career, paying your student loans, supporting your relationships. You're being offered the next step at work, your children are growing up quickly, people you care about tell you how great you are doing. But increasingly, the doubt creeps in... how much can you juggle without cracking? How much do you want to handle? The empty place in your heart, which you have successfully ignored, is getting bigger.

Or you've built a life with someone and while there are bumps, generally things are OK. Your lives are entwined around a mortgage, children, community commitments. It feels too complicated to even consider pulling back from at this point. You used to enjoy being together, but you haven't had fun in a long time. The doubt creeps in... do you even like this person anymore?

Perhaps you're a public figure (or a younger person with conservative parents) who hasn't wanted to limit professional possibilities by being honest about who you love. You've made it OK to put your personal life on the shelf, but it increasingly doesn't feel right. Life is short. The doubt creeps in... what are you missing by not being open about who you are? Who are you missing?

And then it happens... one morning you wake up with a heavy feeling in your belly, along with the stark awareness that something you had previously chosen has tipped and now you feel trapped.

No acceptable way out. Stuck. Panicked.

Now what? How do you find your way when a commitment has tipped into feelings of being trapped?

Consider these first steps...

Sit with the awareness, without taking action. Awareness can open room for overwhelming feelings. Simply sit with the awareness and the overwhelm and discomfort it brings, allowing it to settle and soften without moving into action. Rest, walk outside, give yourself time to absorb. Sit with the awareness for as long as it feels itchy, without deflecting and without taking action.

Recognize that awareness brings choice. Awareness opens space for choice. This way or that? In or out? Either/or? Both/and? You can actively choose or you can not choose. Remember that not choosing is also making a choice.

Walk with someone you trust. Everyone hits up against unanticipated plot twists in their life. It is normal and it is also disorienting. As a main character in your own story, consider that it can be very beneficial to walk with someone you trust who can help you gain perspective, see the forest for the trees, consider possibilities that you can't see so close to the ground, gently point out where your values aren't aligning with your actions. It is also, frankly, feels good to have company in the muck.

Remember, the story is unfolding. As long as we are alive, our stories are unfolding. How lovely and exciting, when you think about it, that the stories we've written for our lives at a young age continue to twist and turn with unanticipated plot twists. Give yourself some grace by remembering that your story, like everyone else's, is unfolding... that some plot twists you direct, others will come unanticipated. It's normal. And not always comfortable. No one ever said it would be.

Now exhale.

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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