Where real change happens

Written by Sharon Coulter, MA, PPS, MA LMFT on . Posted in Blog


The Trapeze Story – by Danaan Parry

Sometimes I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings. I’m either hanging onto a trapeze bar swinging along, or, for a few moments in my life, I’m hurtling across the space in between trapeze bars. But most of the time, I spend my life hanging on for dear life to that trapeze bar, the one I have for the moment, that carries me along in a certain steady rate of swing, and I have the feeling that I’m in control of my life. I know most of the right questions, and even some of the right answers.

But, once in a while, as I merrily or not so merrily swing along, I look out ahead of me in the distance and what do I see? I see another trapeze bar swinging towards me. It’s empty. And I know, in that place in me that knows, that this new trapeze bar has my name on it. It’s my next step. It’s my aliveness coming to get me. And in my heart of hearts, I know that for me to grow, I have to release my grip on the present, well-known bar to move on to the next one.

Now, each time it happens to me, I hope – no, I pray – that I won’t have to grab the new one. But in my knowing place, I know that I must totally release my grasp on the old bar, and for some moment in time, I must hurtle across space before I can grab onto the new bar – and each time, I’m filled with terror. It doesn’t matter that in all my previous hurtles across the void of knowing, I have always made it. Each time, I’m afraid that I will miss, that I’ll be crushed on the unseen rocks at the bottom of the chasm between the bars. But I do it anyway.

Maybe this is the essence of what the mystics call “the faith experience.” No guarantees, no net, no insurance policy. You do it anyway because, somehow, to keep hanging on to that old bar is no longer on the list of viable alternatives.

And so, for an eternity that can last a microsecond or a thousand lifetimes, I soar across the dark void. The past is gone; the future is not yet here. It’s called transition.

I have come to believe that this is the only place where real change happens. I mean real change, not the pseudo-change that only lasts until my old buttons get punched. And I have noticed in our culture that this transition zone is looked upon as a no-thing, as a no-place between places. Sure, the old trapeze bar was real and the new one coming towards me, well, I hope that’s real, too; but the void between us is just a scary, confusing, disorienting no-where that must be gotten through as fast and as unconsciously as possible. What a waste! What a waste.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the transition zone is the only real thing, and that the bars are illusions we dream up to avoid the void, where real change happens. Now, whether or not my hunch is true, it remains that the transition zones (paradigm busting times) in our lives are incredibly rich places, and they should be honored, even savored. And with all the pain and the fear and the feelings of being out of control that can accompany transition, the transition zones are still the most alive, the most growth-filled, the most passionate, expansive moments in our lives.

And so, the transformation of fear may have nothing to do with getting rid of fear, or making fear go away, but rather giving ourselves permission to hang out in the transition between trapeze bars. Transforming our need to grab on to that new bar is allowing ourselves to dwell in the only place where real change can happen. It can be terrifying. It can also be enlightening, in the true sense of the word.

Hurtling through the void, we may just learn that ALL ALONG we have always known how to fly.

An Autobiography in Five Chapters

Written by Sharon Coulter, MA, PPS, MA LMFT on . Posted in Blog

Cobble street


Chapter I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost…
I am hopeless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.




Chapter II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I’m in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chaper III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in…it’s a habit
My eyes are open; I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.

Author: Portia Nelson

Can your Love Relationship be Saved?

Written by Sharon Coulter, MA, PPS, MA LMFT on . Posted in Blog

Couples - trackDoes it feel like you and your partner are competitors instead of allies? Have the small kindnesses vanished from your daily interactions? Are you walking on egg shells for fear of saying something that will cause conflict, anger, or hurt? Do you avoid each other more than seek one another out?

When couples come for counseling because their relationship is in trouble, as a therapist my main goal is to watch for and understand the patterns that inevitably show up in a couple’s interactions, so together we can understand what is going wrong despite their best efforts. It is incredibly helpful to examine arguments because they are never about what they appear to be. That bears repeating: while couples get caught up in the details, the argument is almost never about what it appears to be. There is an important theme playing out as that conflict and BOTH partners are engaged in the dance that fuels it. Identifying the theme is the critical factor.

I believe we are always doing our best in the moment with the tools we have, but many of us didn’t witness healthy relationships in our parents’ interactions, and our awareness and skills need improvement. To be emotionally close to someone as we are in the early days or years of a relationship is a magical thing. To be in conflict with the person who we deeply love causes us immense anxiety, pain, and sadness—so why would we purposely inflict those feelings on ourselves if we knew how to avoid them.

Love relationships are amazing structures that can teach us about what we didn’t get growing up. We need to figure out what that is or we’re destined to seek it, unconsciously, in this relationship, and the next, and the next—usually in ways that leave us feeling alone, misunderstood, and end up sabotaging the partnership.

The First Step

Effective counseling requires that couples come out of their corners in the boxing ring and embrace a new position with regard to the relationship—a united front of honesty, curiosity, and collaboration. Yes, I know … much more difficult than it sounds. That’s why an objective and caring intermediary—pastor, therapist or counselor—can be vital. When couples are trying to fix their problems from a place of fear—which is the source of all conflict—solutions are extremely difficult to recognize. I support clients to identify that fear and investigate it with deep compassion.

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” ~ Einstein