Life sometimes really, really sucks. These are the days when you think you might barely be able to make it through without floundering in tub of your own tears or strangling yourself with the force of angst. And yet by some miracle, you emerge through this chaos.This is what Martha Beck calls in her book, Steering by Starlight, burning through the 'ring of fire'. The ring of fire is one of three three concentric spheres representing your reality, your consciousness, your life.

The outer sphere is what she calls the 'shallows'. This is where you are obsessed with the material world. False beliefs and negative thoughts abound. It is characterised by stress, unease, frustration, constant striving, and fear. Yuck.

The inner sphere is the 'core of peace' when you feel connected to all that is, the entire universe, and you feel the truth of yourself as a spiritual being. This sphere is characterised by peace, feeling awesome, and generally lounging in a metaphorical velour suit. Yummo!

The ring of fire is the space between. As its name implies, it's no picnic. The ring of fire is painful and harrowing at times. This is where all old false yet comfortable beliefs go up in smoke and all that you once knew as comfortable and familiar disappears. No more victim stories, no more blame laid elsewhere, no where else to turn but inwards. Scary.

To get to the core of peace you've got to go through the fire. Fear of the 'fire' however is what keeps most people in the shallows, in relationships that are toxic, in jobs they hate, in apartments that are bleeding their soul dry. The ring of fire just seems just too big and nasty.

It's no wonder that many resort to 'story fondling', as Beck calls it, to justify why they remain stuck in the fire, on the edge of the shallows. You know these stories, the ones you've told ad infinitum like, 'my parents never taught me how to handle money - that's why I'm so bad with cash', or 'I always attract loser boyfriends - I must be doomed to be an old maid', or 'I must have killed a thousand Chinamen in another lifetime to get this much bad luck'.

Just as insidious as story fondling is 'fire fleeing'. This is where you try to avoid the present horrors by obsessively seeking the future in over work, denying and berating the present. It will always 'get better around the corner'.

Well my friends, the truth is that the only way out is THROUGH - to burn away all the mess.

Here's how: For story fondlers, stop talking and take action. Do something to change your story, to change your circumstances. Be responsible, change the dynamic of stuckness. You'd love to paint full time but you can't because your husband won't let you? Buy some paint and canvas and paint. Now. Or ditch the husband. Now. Something other than the 'woe is me' routine.

For fire fleers, stop doing and start talking. Talk about what you are avoiding in the present. Name the elephant (or boogeyman). Use a friend, coach, therapist, or your journal. Just get all that stuckness out of your body. Write it out. Cry it out. Your fear of the pain is actually worse than the pain itself. And once you rip off that bandaid you'll wonder why you suffered for so long, the relief was that fast.

Life can be a crucible, burning away impurities and false crappy thoughts, leaving you pure, cleansed, and peaceful. Be willing to grieve, to feel things fully, to do the thing you most fear to do, because you'll discover you are far more resilient and capable than you imagined.

Coach's Challenge: What stories are you fondling? Stop talking, take action. Are you avoiding the present by seeking the future? Turn inwards and get it off your chest.

Author's Bio: 

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Author Zoe Routh works with women in business to enhance their personal effectiveness and leadership capacity for global effect. For free tips on how to become a more effective leader that will save you time, money, energy, and stress, go to