Ep. 113 – Turning Obstacles into Gold

There’s an old saying, ‘Obstacles aren’t IN the way, they ARE the way.  In this episode, we will focus on 3 ways to turn anything you’re feeling frustrated or pessimistic about into valuable gold





04:30 – #1 – Pretend you’re an optimist who expects bad things to turn good  

12:10 – #2 – Reconnect to what you’re ultimately looking for  

14:40 – #3 – Create what you want INSIDE first  




MindStory Inner Coach 
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Below is a machine-generated transcript and therefore the transcript may contain errors.

This is episode 113 – Turning Obstacles into Gold.    There’s an old saying, obstacles aren’t in the way, they ARE the way.  In this episode we will focus on 3 ways to have an epiphany around a specific obstacle or challenge in your life…so you can turn it into gold.   Hi, I’m Carla Rieger and this is the MindStory Speaker podcast.

The wisest people in history tend to look for how to turn challenges, obstacles and setbacks into gold. Of course, many of us understand this ‘alchemy of manifestation ‘intellectually, but to do it on a regular basis is another thing.

So, it helps to think of a present-day challenge you face. And you might have many. It could be a big one or small one. It could be cash flow, your weight, a health issue, a relationship you have that’s in troubled waters, you’ve lost the joy, or you can’t seem to find that perfect life partner, or you have a frustrating inability to handle a certain aspect of your job in a way you feel good about, like organizational skills, or conflict resolution. Or just an inability to find a new career path it feels fulfilling. So just think of one for now as we go through these three ways to find an epiphany.

Now, before we find your epiphany, think of a past challenge overcame. It can be big or small.  An obstacle or setback you experienced, something that you got through or dissolved away. It’s where you went from frustrated, disappointed, or defeated but ended up feeling triumphant in the end. Got one? It could have been something simple like winning a game against a fierce competitor, finding a job, finding a home, finding a partner, helping a child navigate a tough situation at school, getting back your health, turning your financial situation around, finding your self-esteem after a divorce. We all have them, many of them. The problem is we often don’t focus on our wins, but instead on our losses… What was bad about it, instead of what was good.

The 1st one is to “Look for the gift”

There’s a great example from James Kirkwood. It’s a little anecdote about the father of twin sons. Age 8. One son is an incurable optimist and the other is a complete pessimist. The father decides to try an experiment because he’s a little alarmed about this difference. Christmas Eve he fills the pessimist’s room with piles and piles of toys – everything a boy that age could want. And in the optimist’s room he puts a big pile of horse manure. On Christmas morning, he goes to check in and see how they’re reacting to these different situations. He peeks in on the pessimist and he is sitting there looking at all the toys but he hasn’t opened anything. There’s games and sporting equipment, and he hasn’t touched or opened a single thing. He is just eyeing it all suspiciously as if he’s wondering what the catches. The father sighs and goes to the optimist’s room. The son is standing waist deep in the horse manure just shoveling it up in the air over his head and laughing. The father asks, son — what you doing? And the son says: Gee dad, with all this horse manure there must be a pony in here somewhere.

So, in other words, pretend you are an optimist, if you tend not to be. I grew up in a family of pessimists, and we were very good at being very skeptical of everything, looking at the glass as half empty, assuming the worst, and that’s mostly what I would get. As soon as I retrained myself to be more of an optimist, I tended to create more what I wanted. It’s really as simple as that. It’s actually just a mechanical, almost scientific process. But, don’t believe me, try it for yourself and see. That’s the only way you change your mind on these kinds of things.

So, with that challenge you overcame front of mind right now, you might think about it this way. It’s the idea that life challenges are like a lesson your soul ordered so you can grow. If so, how are you more confident, wiser, more experienced, more resilient, tougher, or stronger as a person BECAUSE you had to face that obstacle and overcome it? Another way to look at it is, what if you didn’t go through that? I know a part of you might think, actually life would be better if I hadn’t gone through that. But would you? Really ask yourself honestly. Maybe you would be less confident now, more foolish, more inexperienced, less resilient, weaker, less persistent if you had avoided going through that.

So I believe that life is always putting you in an experiential laboratory for something you might not realize is coming in your future. It’s true in any role you have in life. But, it’s especially true if you are leading, educating, teaching, coaching, consulting, volunteering, parenting or just supporting others in some way by who you are being , what you say, and what you do.

Whether you get paid for this role or not, LIFE with a capital “L” wants you to be prepared for it. And, LIFE may have started your preparation many years ago. In other words, there’s a part of you that knows what’s coming in your future, or that knew what was coming in your life now, so has been preparing you.  So whatever you help others with, life often forces you to be your own laboratory on that very thing.

For example, I often help coaches, leaders and speakers build their business. Usually people are the most successful when they choose to help people who are going through a challenge that they solved. Weight-loss coaches often lost and kept off a lot of weight themselves. Team leaders who’ve made all the mistakes of their front line employee are often the best leaders. People who were rebellious teens, often have better parenting skills with their rebellious teens. Business coaches who built and lost a few businesses, learned from the school of hard knocks, before building their own successful business, are better able to coach and consult others to do the same.

In other words, someone who’s always been slender and has no problem staying that way, isn’t actually a great coach for someone who’s trying to lose weight. Someone who’s always been successful in business and has never made, any big mistakes causing them to lose their business, is actually not that helpful to people who are trying to grow business. To help others, you need to understand the pitfalls, the challenges, and not just understand them intellectually. It helps if you’ve actually experienced these challenges personally. You don’t always need this to be successful in a leadership role, but it’s a great perspective to take when you are looking at challenges you face now.  Maybe there are helping you learn something right down to the core of who you are. It’s in your cells and it is stored as wisdom that is like gold moving forward.

And, say you’ve been in your helping or leadership role for a while, and LIFE wants you to start helping other kinds of people, or helping them with deeper more complex problems. That’s when LIFE will often bring you that deep complex problem yourself to deal with first. I’ve seen this over and over again. I often have people come to me when they are at a career transition. They want to take their expertise to a whole other level. That’s exactly the time life gives him a huge challenge to face. For example, the person who decides they want to help business owners pivot their business to be more in alignment with their core values, actually finds he needs to do that himself first. Someone confronts him on his lack of alignment and congruence in his own business. At first he interpreted that as a sign he shouldn’t try to go in that direction, and wanted to give up. I helped him see that it might just be life testing him to see how committed he is to this path, and challenging him to be willing to walk his talk more fully.

So, I would like to suggest that whatever you are facing right now in terms of a big challenge, you might just be getting forged in the fire wisdom to help others in the future. It’s an interesting question to ask yourself. Is it preparing you for people, circumstances, or experiences that are coming up for you? That you don’t yet know about?

This is such a useful point of view for many of the people I work with. It literally can take them from hating being in the situation they find themselves in, to feeling okay about it, maybe even grateful about it. Seeing themselves as a superhero in training.

Now you might be thinking –  how can I truly know if it’s preparing me for something in the future, or it’s just my own shortcomings, or life not supporting me, or me just having bad luck. That’s when it helps to use your heart-based wisdom to look at the situation, rather than the logical, linear mind only. Can you get a sense that the challenge you face now is like a training ground for what’s coming. In other words, can you get a sense if this challenge is actually building a vessel, the boat, that takes you across troubled waters? Is it helping you evolve to become more of who you are, more able to share your gifts with the world, more relevant and more useful to others? Now, if you don’t get a firm yes or no on that answer … Just for fun, imagine it were true. This challenge you face now is actually helping you ascend to a higher version of yourself. It’s untrue that it’s about bad luck, or shortcomings, or life turning its back on you. It’s the opposite, in some ways it’s good luck, it’s a sign you are growing, its life supporting you in the bigger picture.

The 2nd one is to “Reconnect to what you are ultimately looking for”

When obstacles come our way, we tend to start focusing on the obstacle and lose sight of the big overall vision. If you haven’t got you wanted yet, and feel discouraged, just know that it doesn’t have to mean that you won’t get there one day. It only means that you have been so focus on the obstacle, looking perhaps in the wrong direction have been able to access a deeper level of resourcefulness within you. Maybe you just have a subconscious belief that it’s not possible, and when you remove that, like removing a weed from your garden, you’re able to see possibilities again. For example, a person is looking for a business partner to inject funds and skills into her fitness business. She’s got a certain belief about who she could attract and what they would give and receiving situation. It’s another fitness practitioner who wants to go 50-50 and is good at marketing. It just wasn’t showing up.

When she reconnected to what she was ultimately looking for this made a big difference. It was to scale her business, so she could reach more people in a more professional way, and not have to do most of the work herself. So she just stayed focused on that instead . All of a sudden new possibilities opened up. A chiropractor who provided a space in his building and access to his staff and resources, in exchange for his clients using her fitness facility. Every moment of every day we all have the possibility to experience every situation in a new way. When we do — our mind opens, like a flower in the sunshine. We see things we never saw before.

The 3rd one is to “Create what you want inside first”

All the great thinkers in history suggest that if you want to manifest a goal, you need to actually emanate the success of that goal first. In other words, act as if it’s already happened, be grateful for the fact that life has brought it to you, imagine it being true in this moment. That way, life wants to catch up and manifest it into your here and now reality. For example, instead of complaining about your bulging waistline, imagine your waistline being slim. Instead of lamenting the lack of a fulfilling life partner, imagine being the type of person that life partner wants to be with. Instead of wishing people would be more friendly, be more friendly yourself. It’s that old Gandhi quote, be the change you want to see in the world, whether it’s personally, in your community or globally. It’s something many of us know intellectually, but forget to practice on a regular basis.

So these 3 ways are very important also in terms of how you’re relating this to the intense times we find ourselves in – all of humanity. When we do this inner work individually we do positively affect the whole. This moment that humanity is living through can be considered a door or a hole. The decision to fall into the hole or go through the door is yours. If you consume negative information most of the day, and regurgitate it in your own head and to others, it will create a nervous anxiety and pessimism about life, you will likely fall into the hole.

But if you take the opportunity to look at yourself using these kinds of ways to open your mind, to rethink your life, you will go through the door. This is the Golden Age I believe we’re about to embark upon. There really are two timelines at play right now, and they are there for everyone’s learning. It’s a chance to see what happens when you participate in life in a pessimistic or optimistic way. It’s not a judgment that one is better than the other. It’s just about an arbitrary personal choice. Some people want to continue on a pessimistic path and go into the hole of darkness, to get consumed by it. Is that wrong or right? It only depends on your perspective. Maybe the pessimists think they are being smartly cautious, being properly prepared for the world that’s coming. I certainly always used to think that pessimism was a sign of intelligence, and optimism was a sign of delusion.

But is it? What if you are pessimistic thinking something bad is going to happen in, say, four weeks. Something financial. Like an investment goes down. You take your money out of the, but it doesn’t crash. It goes up. You missed out. If it does crash, then you think you were wise to take it out, but you also spent 4 weeks in a negative state, and maybe your negative state contributed to it that timeline happening.

In contrast, what if you are optimistic, thinking something good is going to happen in four weeks, with that investment going up. You keep your money in there, and it doesn’t crash. It goes up. You gained. If it does crash, then you just learn from the situation and let it go. You spent 4 weeks in a positive state, and maybe your positive state contributed to it a good timeline happening…the investment going up again a bit later…you held and it reversed…or some other kind of good investment comes your way because you are expecting good, you see it and magnetize it to you.

If you are pessimistic and your predictions turn out as you suspected, it reinforces your negativity plus you spent 4 weeks feeling bad. If you are optimistic and your predictions turn out the opposite, you’ve still spent 4 weeks feeling good which gives you more energy and resources to pivot, to learn from the situation, to turn it into gold, or into a benefit in some way.

So, that’s why I say committing to a path of optimism has far greater payoffs. You’re more likely to take care of yourself, and to take care of others, because you’re in a good state. When you’re in a bad state, that’s when we tend to stop taking care of ourselves, not sleeping well, not eating well, not exercising…feeling low energy. Of course, when you take care of yourself, you take care of others at the same time. You may have noticed that when you’re in a negative state, you’re more negative towards others you’re supposed to be taking care of like spouse, kids, parents, friends.

You’re also, as an optimist, more likely to have a connection to this higher mind, this higher self, this spiritual power. Do not underestimate the spiritual dimension of this crisis we find ourselves in. It’s helpful to adopt the perspective of an eagle that sees everything from above with the broader vision. This is the perspective of the higher mind. There is a social dimension in this crisis, but also a spiritual dimension. The two go hand-in-hand. Without the social dimension, we can fall into fanaticism. Without the spiritual dimension we can fall into pessimism and futility.

Chances are, you have all the preparation necessary to go through this crisis…otherwise you wouldn’t be alive at this time in history. All the challenges and obstacles you’ve overcome to this point in time has been preparing you for this time.  Grab your toolbox and use all the tools at your disposal. Now, if you already live mostly as an optimist, that’s great. No need to feel guilty for feeling well in these difficult times, being sad and without energy doesn’t help anyone at all. You actually build resilience because you’re choosing the optimistic timeline, which brings joy, peace, wisdom and unconditional love. These are your armour for this time. All emotions, negative and positive, make up the fuel you need to transition into this good timeline. Negative alone will make it hard to get out of the hole. Positive alone means you’re probably doing what they call “a spiritual bypass”, where you’re not processing the inevitable negative feelings that come up if you’re a human living in a world with many challenges to overcome. You need both.

But processing the negative allows you to maintain a cheerful, bright and positive posture that then takes you through the door and into the Golden Age. When we walk through that door, we see the world in new ways. We come a beacon for others, a living bridge, just by who you are being. Even if you never said anything to anyone, but you just go about your day in this state…it’s one of the best ways you can serve humanity right now. Serenity in the storm, guilt free. Choose calm. Make a habit of encountering the that which brings calm, optimism, trust that life has your back now and always.

In summary

If you’re in the middle of an obstacle, challenge or set back where you are feeling frustrated, defeated, impatient or disappointed try activating an epiphany whereby you choose to take on the role of the optimist whereby you’re looking for the gift in the situation. How might it be preparing you for something in your future that’s very important? The second is, to revisit your vision, your ultimate goal, maybe you’re going about it in the wrong way, or you’re stuck on a certain solution that’s not right, and another solution will actually give you more of what you want. And thirdly, is to create what you want inside first, create the emotion of gratitude that life is going to be bringing it to you, feel what it feels like to be the kind of person who already has that, in other words, be the change that you want to see in your world.



So, I hope that was helpful. For a specific process for regularly turning obstacles into gold do check out our book on Amazon: MindStory Inner Coach Book. Its about how to Use Your Mind so you Don’t Let it Use You. There you’ll discover the AVARA model, a 5-part process you can use to gain epiphanies on situations where you now feel defeated or frustrated. Find it on Amazon by typing in the name of the book, MindStory Inner Coach, or click on the link in the shownotes


Or, go to our website MindStoryAcademy.com, and you’ll see it there. It’s by me Carla Rieger and my partner Dave O’Connor.

Okay, that’s it for today. In the meantime, please hit subscribe, please like this episode and do share it so others can find it. Until next time, thanks for listening.

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