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I Can Relate

Do you feel like there’s something wrong with you that needs “fixing?”

Are you frustrated with thoughts and behaviors that bring you down but you feel powerless to change?


Do you feel overwhelmed and discouraged by circumstances and relationships that don’t reflect your hopes and dreams for your life?


If so, I can relate. I’ve struggled with these feelings and frustrations, too.


An Anxious Kid

As a child growing up in a Colorado mountain town, I was extremely shy and had lots of stomach issues due to anxiety.


My sisters always insisted I sit by the window on the way to a day of skiing because I would inevitably need to roll down the window and lose my breakfast as we rolled into the parking lot. 


My strategy as a child and teenager for dealing with anxiety was avoidance of situations that made me anxious.


My efforts to avoid feeling anxious, particularly in social situations, resulted in increasing depression and my life becoming more and more limited.


Turning Points

In my 20s, two events took place that changed the trajectory of my life for the better.


One evening I was lying on my bed feeling hopeless and thinking I would be better off dead. Suddenly, I realized a spirit being was standing next to me.


This being told me that even if I died I would not be able to avoid facing the life challenges that at the moment seemed impossible to face, and that if I persevered I would be able to find my way through this.


The message was so unexpected and vivid that I accepted the experience as true without question, though I hesitated to tell anyone else about it.


Soon after this, I met an Indian guru and visited one of his ashrams for several weeks. I was hoping that through chanting, service, and meditation, I could resolve my problems and “fix” myself.


However, the realities of sharing a hotel room with 7 other women, getting up at 3:30am to chop onions, and getting a bad case of bronchitis made me question my plan to sign up for a longer stay.


When I got home, I wrote to the guru and said I was searching for a spiritual life, but while visiting the ashram all I could think about was getting home again, and now that I was home I was wondering if I should go back and try again.


This was his response: “This is how the mind is. When it is one place it wants to be someplace else. And when it is someplace else it wants to be in the original place. Stay where you are and develop a strong mind.”


While I had no idea how to follow the guidance from the spirit being to persevere, or the guidance from the guru to develop a strong mind, these experiences gave me the understanding that there was a world of mystery and support beyond the physical world, and that I held the key to inner peace within my own mind.


Developing a Strong Mind

Through many twists and turns, and through the knowledge and wisdom of many different teachers, I did gradually develop strategies and skills for developing a stronger mind, which I continue to practice every day.


Over time I realized I was experiencing a growing sense of kindness, empowerment, and agency in relationship to myself and my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.


This healthier relationship with myself gave me the confidence to face inner and outer challenges that had previously overwhelmed me, and allowed me to rediscover some of the intuitive and creative abilities I’d experienced as a child.


Giving Back

Sometimes when I look back on my early adulthood, I wish I could have supported myself then in the way I’ve learned to support myself now.


While I can only do that in my imagination, in my counseling practice I can do my best to make a difference in other people’s lives by supporting them in cultivating a more empowered and harmonious relationship with themselves, which changes everything in life for the better.


Please click here to read more about my counseling practice.

Or contact me to set up a free 15 minute consultation.


Paula Stephani
Licensed Professional Counselor
2299 Pearl St. Suite 402A
Boulder, CO. 80302