The Bridge: Finding Comfort in Being “Stuck”

by Martha Pasternack

Picture of bridge

You have heard it before: life coaching can serve as the bridge to cross the gap between where our clients have been to where they want to go. It is an easy analogy to visualize. Some gaps are as vast as the Grand Canyon in Arizona, some are like the Mississippi River, and others may be like swift mountain streams during a Rocky Mountain snow melt in springtime. The bridge is one way to get from one side to the other.

Have you ever been stuck on a bridge in traffic? Me too. Recently, in fact. Imagine this with me for a moment: It is four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon. You have a three-hour drive home along coastal Route One. A mile ahead is “The Bridge.” It is the old bridge over an ancient river and it is infamous for backing up traffic narrowed down to a two-lane road thru the prettiest village in the state. Traffic is still moving at a reasonable speed where you are and you have your fingers crossed, hoping you will not get stuck on “The Bridge.”

No such luck. You get stopped dead on the bridge over the water with visions of Monday morning dancing in your head. The present moment is nowhere to be found. You can’t go around, through, over, under, backwards or forwards. I’m not sure frustrated is a potent enough word for what being stuck on a bridge can be like when the anxiety of feeling stuck sets in.

Here is my point: As we coach our clients in discovering ways to bridge the gap between where they have been to where they want to eventually be, they often get stuck on the proverbial bridge. They cannot go backwards, forwards, over, under or through. The task at hand is to relax into the present moment and free oneself from the pressure of expectations, time, and judgment. This is much easier said than done especially if one has been in a noxious place. When our clients get stuck there is a great opportunity to choose to rest, look around, take in the scenery, say a few bad words followed by gratitude for a beautiful day, sing a song, say a prayer, text their mother, and, of course, relax into “what is.”

Relaxing into being stuck (I prefer to call this a “pause”) on the metaphorical bridge is much easier with the help of a life coach familiar with the IAC Mastery #4, Processing in the Present. I copied it from our IAC Mastery E book below so you can read it right now, in the present moment. You take it from here and have some fun.

4. Processing in the present


Focus full attention on the client, processing information at the level of the mind, body, heart and/or spirit, as appropriate. The coach expands the client’s awareness of how to experience thoughts and issues on these various levels, when and as appropriate. The coach utilizes what is happening in the session itself (client’s behavior, patterns, emotions, and the relationship between coach and client, etc.) to assist the client toward greater self-awareness and positive, appropriate action.


  1. The client is free to express and engage with present reality.
  2. The client is unencumbered by past or future preoccupations or concerns.
  3. The client benefits from coaching insight and support on all levels.
  4. The coach is highly attuned to subtle communications from the client.

Key Elements

  1. The coach is aware of the dynamics occurring within the session, within the client, and between coach and client, and understands how the dynamics are affecting the client and the coaching.
  2. The coach has a simultaneous and holistic awareness of the client’s communications at all levels.
  3. The coach is able to discern whether the client is communicating from the past, present or future.
  4. The coach allows the client the opportunity to process and clarify the coach’s questions and comments.

The coach allows the client the opportunity to process his or her own thoughts.

Martha Pasternack Martha Pasternack, MMC
My passion for witnessing the beauty and mystery of life, healthy healing and the promotion of Peace on Earth are integral to my daily life. I have been life coaching since 2004 as a Fearless Living Coach after working 30 years as a health care professional.

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