Tips, articles & exercises to solve life problems.

Fill out my online form.
We never sell or share your personal information, period.

Big Breakthroughs for Self-Discovery and Growth

Published in the August edition of Natural Awakenings Magazine

By Francesca Starr, Ph.D.

There is nothing like the rush of enthusiasm, inspiration, and renewed hope that comes with a breakthrough insight, and the accompanying clarity of what actions to take. The shift out of a stuck pattern, the healing of an old wound, and the resolution of an intractable conflict, release a vibrant energy that opens us to larger possibility and stimulates our creativity. Our greatest fulfillment is found in this expression of our complete potential.

The insight that comes like a lightening bolt and changes everything is one of the most thrilling aspects of my work with clients. It’s quite common for a new client to work with me on a persistent problem that has dogged him or her for years, and then resolve the issue elegantly and quickly in a breakthrough moment. “I never knew that part of me felt that way. “How freeing that I don’t have to suppress that anymore.” “Things don’t need to be all or nothing, black or white; the answer to this problem is in between the opposite extremes.” These are phrases I hear often. They signal creative new thinking and an opportunity for growth.

Clients soon discover that the source of these breakthroughs lies within them. The path of discovery is the Complete Life Process which is a unique synthesis of cutting-edge counseling, consciousness, and coaching modalities. The process, which uses Voice Dialogue as its cornerstone method, elevates one’s life skills and professional effectiveness beyond competence to mastery.  In the process clients:

  • clearly define their issues,
  • map their psyche to learn more about themselves than they usually can in months or even years of other kinds of counseling or therapy,
  • ground their understanding with a clear roadmap of the work to be accomplished next,
  • dialogue with the fascinating aspects of the inner world of the psyche to understand every “part” that is involved in the issue,
  • approach their Primary (developed) and Disowned (hidden) Selves with an inclusive, embracing compassion and curiosity, while getting to the very root of the issue.

In the Complete Life Process, a conscious, objective Conductor of all the inner selves is developed and strengthened. This wiser and more detached part of us has the capacity to master paradox. This means that when you have two opposing viewpoints within your own psyche, you can listen to and respect both while making a higher decision that very often incorporates some of each point of view in an often surprising resolution of the issue.

In another series of exercises, I lead clients through experiences where they achieve higher states of consciousness. This is work that leads to what mystics would describe as the feeling of being at one with everything. Clients experience a calming and heart-opening state of awareness that often provides huge breakthroughs in understanding, and in their ability to create sustained changes in their lives.

I encourage clients to embrace the duality that is at the heart of the human condition. Moving beyond an either/or—black/white approach to complicated life issues, while accessing higher states of consciousness, allows the breakthroughs to happen gently. This expansive self-acceptance and intuitive awareness catalyzes transformation, and new insight arises organically and effortlessly.

The following story of a client’s transformation illustrates how these breakthroughs often occur. I share it with her permission because it represents a common problem, and it exemplifies how a big breakthrough can lead to the resolution of an intractable issue and show the way to a more complete life.

Roslyn had a very fulfilling personal relationship and a relatively healthy connection to her extended family. The issue that needed immediate attention had to do with her work life. Roslyn enjoyed working in a progressive company, and appreciated the way it made a positive difference in the world. However, she felt professionally unfulfilled. She shared with me a dream image of a horse held tightly reined in—a horse that wanted to run faster, but had a bit in its mouth and a rider determined to hold it back. She was frustrated by the limitations she experienced. She wanted to express her full potential in her work life and wasn’t sure why, year after year, something was restraining her. She assumed the “holding back” was coming from outside and felt thwarted and disappointed. She just couldn’t seem to break out of middle-management, even though she knew she was capable of much more.

Roslyn, like all of us, isn’t just one unified and simple person. Her personality and soul contain many distinct aspects. We started with the familiar, spending time with the part of her that desired a more expansive and challenging work life. This aspect of her psyche felt well-prepared and fully ready to move forward. This was a part of Roslyn that she knew well, heard from often, and understood best.

Then we talked to a part of Roslyn that she wasn’t as familiar with—an internal voice that was always there, but which was undiscovered in the shadow. This part of Roslyn didn’t want larger success, was frightened by it, and worried that it would bring the wrong sort of change. As we engaged this voice in safety and with acceptance, we learned a great deal. This aspect of Roslyn’s psyche felt very connected to other people and wanted to nurture them. This part valued a modest income and some level of security, but worried that with more financial success, selfishness and a lack of compassion for others might arise. This part of Roslyn equated money with an over-emphasis on the material, and didn’t want to earn one dollar more than she was currently making. She also loved being feminine, and strongly believed that greater success would require too much emphasis on masculine ways of doing things.

We are what we believe. And none of us believes only one thing. The internal conflict that arises when our inner sub-personalities unconsciously argue with each other can hold us back from a more expansive life. Awakening to what is really going on inside of us provides rich new discoveries.

Our examination of the totality of what Roslyn believed soon began to create new potential for her. As we explored her past, we found the source of her beliefs about power and money. It was rooted in the patriarchal structures in which she was raised and in which she experienced her early success. She also realized that she had personally known only a few highly successful people and that she didn’t like the values these individuals held. The internal conflict within Roslyn would continue to hold her back unless she could embrace the paradoxes these points of view posed, and respect what each had to say.

The breakthrough was beautiful to see. Once the paradox within her was brought to light and each internal voice was fully engaged, everything fell into place. Roslyn learned to work skillfully with her Inner Conductor, that part of her that could separate from the inner voices and bring larger wisdom and even a loving quality of detachment to this issue. We hadn’t forced a resolution, favored one voice over another, or tried to suppress or silence a particular perspective. Roslyn’s Inner Conductor appreciated each of the two very different points of view, understood where they came from, and allowed each to simply be—and that’s when the answers started to arrive.

Roslyn read an article about a prominent woman in business in a professional journal and this triggered her understanding that it was possible for someone to be brilliant in business and still embody the traits she valued most. This understanding unleashed a flood of creative thinking. If success, safety, power, and money weren’t at odds, then she could approach things with a fresh new perspective. She also began to both mentally and physically experience the truth that she could be her most essential self—successful, powerful, and nurturing—and never loose track of what was most important to her. She could honor each voice within and find just the right balance between them.

She polished her resume and planned the ways in which a more expansive work life could connect her to opportunities to help others as well. At last, the balance she could achieve between these two opposing energies felt satisfying. Now she could skillfully modulate between them, somewhere in the middle ground, rather than being unconsciously pushed and pulled between the extreme opposites.

Once the internal changes had taken hold, Roslyn’s environment began to adjust in response. I’ve seen it happen many times and it still amazes me how much the external and internal worlds move to reflect each other. As it happened, Roslyn didn’t need to leave the company in order to move up, although she was prepared to do so. A temporary assignment, which she filled brilliantly, lead to a gratifying promotion, one that lead to the promise of a second promotion within the coming year.

Roslyn continues to blossom as she takes on more responsibility. She enjoys making more money and she attends to the things that matter most. She listens carefully to each of these powerful voices within her, because they have instructive and useful things to say. It’s not that life is suddenly perfect—it never is—but what this big breakthrough provides her is the opportunity to leap beyond old ways of thinking and to experience the joy of doing more of what she is capable of achieving.

Listening to each aspect of your psyche provides the awareness that empowers you to grow and change. Then you can unearth profound new gifts, and life becomes richer and more fulfilling.

Your own breakthroughs are waiting to happen. Every potential is contained within you—the dominant aspects you already know well, and their opposite energies, which hold the promise of so many interesting possibilities. It’s simply a matter of learning the skills that help you heal your wounds, amplify your creativity, and live more passionately. Your journey of self-discovery is worth your attention. And what could be more fulfilling than living a complete life?


Francesca Starr, Ph.D., CPC
Certified Professional Coach, Post Graduate Voice Dialogue Training with Drs. Hal and Sidra Stone (Creators of Voice Dialogue), Ph.D. Counseling Psychology, MA Transpersonal Psychology, MA Education. Francesca brings finely honed skills and knowledge from previous careers (1. education, 2. business, and 3. counseling) to her passion as a Voice Dialogue Coach and Trainer. Gentle conversations with your Inner Selves that transform your life. Inspired, breakthrough coaching to resolve life and work issues, generate conscious choice and creative action, and evolve consciousness.