Mental & Emotional Health

What's Holding You Back?

by Terry Barnett-Martin

If you knew that you would be successful if you took a chance and ventured out, would you do it? How about if you knew that you’d learn something important even if you it didn’t work out the way you’d planned? Would you try anyway? It takes a certain courage, which all of us have somewhere deep inside, to trust ourselves and let our gifts lead rather than doing only what is predictable and safe. Safe is understandable, and you could make a case for it, but if you play it safe, you can fall short of the greatness that lies within you, your true purpose for being here. If you make even small strides to be who you were meant to be and do what you were born to do, the world will change for the better,  without a doubt.

At the beginning of every year I ask myself what more I can do to use my gifts in the world. How can I do what I do best and naturally that will help in some way to bring out the best in others? When the clock struck midnight at the end of 2014, I felt the refreshing hope of a clean slate, a fresh chance to recalibrate, and an invitation to walk into my visions for the New Year. Not so much goals or resolutions, visions are ideas that we breathe life into and use the year to develop and birth. I guess you could say the New Year is pregnant with possibilities, that when nurtured become the reality that leads us. The New Year invites us to lean into our hopes and choose our path, clear the way, and sort out what fits and what no longer does.


Take stock of the relationships that most impact your life. For those who support and encourage you to be yourself, bless them with your attention and time. For relationships that trouble you or leave you feeling small or on shaky ground, build good fences to connect in a healthier way and to protect yourself should they be harmful. Building relationship fences is about promoting respect for yourself and others. With each relationship there is a unique fence that defines the type of connection you have or want to have. For instance, with a loving and supportive relationship you might imagine a simple split rail fence between you. There you can meet and lean on the fence from your respective sides as you comfortably share your ideas, thoughts and experiences. These are the precious gems of our lives, and they always include mutual trust and respect.

There are other relationships that many of us have in our lives that require more work, as well as stronger and higher fences. For instance, with a relationship where a person is constantly jumping over your fence, or throwing their garbage over the fence into your yard, you can imagine a strong stone fence that is 30 feet tall and as wide as the expanse of your connection with them. Add a slippery or non-stick surface to the fence so that anything they attempt to throw over, slides back to their side. When you are faced with people with whom you have difficulties, just picturing a proper fence between you and them gives you the space to say what you need to say and do what you need to do to give yourself a sense of wellbeing and safety. It is important to know that every relationship in your life has a purpose and a message, even those that cause you trouble. The message in those cases might be to stand up for yourself, communicate clearer, or challenge yourself to work harder. In some cases, the purpose is to remind you to say “No” and move away from people who mean harm to you. What better time than the dawn of the New Year to set your relationships straight, clear your life of toxic or harmful relationships, and re-focus your attention and energy on those people who bring out the best in you.

Career and Work Life:

This is an area many people look to for their purpose. Some are making a living using their gifts and talents, doing what they do best and making a big difference. Others are disillusioned in jobs that, though they pay the bills, do not necessarily inspire them or use their best skills. If you have a dream that continually resurfaces about a job or career you want to pursue, summon your courage, and go after it. On the way to it, you can refine your dream and end up in a job or career that makes you want to sing “Hallelujah!”

However, there is another way to look at finding your purpose. It has more to do with how you do what you do, rather than what you do. For instance, I know a wonderful man (my husband, Joe, whom I adore) who works in sales and does exceedingly well because of the way he uses his gifts. Often the focus in sales and business overall is on the numbers and money that can be made for oneself and the company, and that is important to consider for sure. But where Joe finds his purpose and his gifts well used is in listening intently to his customers, genuinely making them feel important and heard, and directing them to what they need. He knows the secret…that life is all about the relationship, and that people most often remember how you made them feel rather than what you did for them.

I know another dear one, my hilarious sister-in-law Kathy.  She has been a brilliant writer of stories and tales that make you laugh out loud and well up with tears, for as long as I can remember. Until very recently, she wrote but did not share her gift for fear that people might judge it and hurt her heart. This past year she summoned her courage and momentary “who cares if they judge me” attitude and put herself out there. She now has a blog called and all of her readers wait on the edge of their seats for her next post. She has a genius, comedic mind that never stops cooking up new ideas. Her gift and her purpose involves making people laugh and cry at the same time, and that is so cathartic and so needed.

I have clients who have wrestled with their purpose driven dreams in our work together until they figured out a way to make them happen. They inspire me. If you long to have a sense of purpose or to feel meaning in your life, honor your natural gifts and talents and use them as often as possible.

Whether it is what you do or how you do what you do that matches your purpose, let 2015 be the year you reach further than ever before to contribute your gifts to the world around you.


The secret to good health is figuring out what works best for you. There are zillions of diets and work out programs that promise to work, and they do for some, not for others. So this year is your year to figure out what your body, mind and heart need.

Food is always a big variable. It is a good idea to do a study about how you feel before and after eating the foods you normally eat. The ideal is to feel comfortably full, calmly energized, and with a steady clarity of mind. If there are any foods you eat that make you feel otherwise, you might want to cut back on them or set them out for a bit.

Second, is playing and moving. I like to use these words rather than exercise because it is more inviting. Serious athletes probably prefer the words work out, exercise, power run, etc., and it is important that you find the words that motivate you to get your muscles moving and your heart rate up. It helps your body, especially your brain, and it can help to regulate your sleep patterns.

Third, is sleep.  When we sleep, everything in our body has a chance to repair and renew. When we don’t sleep well, we end up lugging around old used up cells and exhausted organs, including a fuzzy brain. After a while when it builds up you can begin to see signs of deterioration such as illnesses and chronic conditions, even weight gain that won’t easily release. A good bed, a supportive pillow, a calm, quiet, darkened room without TV and computer running, and a comfortable temperature can help to bring you to restorative sleep.

Emotional and Spiritual Well Being:

This is where it all comes together. Work to clean up and sort out your relationship it reduces stress and promotes feelings of calm, peace and confidence. Invest yourself in finding purpose in your life; it instills a certain joy and inner strength, as well a sense of belonging to something bigger and valuable. Take the best care of your body, eat what works for you, exercise in the way that helps you to feel strong and flexible, it gives you good energy that overflows into all aspects of your life. Take time to be quiet and tune into yourself so you can tap into your creative mind, intuition and soul where you can find spiritual and life answers and direction.

Welcome to 2015, the year of YOU. Make changes where needed, be courageous and take chances to find your path, and above all else love and be kind to yourself and others, and remember we are all on our way to becoming our best.

Terry Barnett-Martin, M.S., LMFT is a relationship counselor in private practice in Southern California. She is an openhearted, intuitive practitioner and writer who is dedicated to helping people find the purpose and path in their life and relationships. Visit her websites:; Tending Fences: Building Safe and Healthy Relationship Boundaries; The Parables of Avery Soul can be purchased from and through major booksellers.

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