What's Holding You Back?

Valorie Burton is a bestselling author, speaker, and life coach dedicated
to helping you:

  • Be happier and have more fun, even when life seems routine.
  • Navigate setbacks or disappointments that make you better, not bitter.
  • Make a major life change that's exciting and scary at the same time.

4 Ways to Reduce Stress in the Midst of a Challenge!

Going through something lately? As the saying goes, if you aren’t in a storm, you either just came out of one, or you are headed towards one. It may sound pessimistic, but truly, it’s just life. Things happen. Things you’d rather not happen, happen. The key to maintaining your sanity lies in how you think about your challenges. Use these four strategies to reduce your stress in the midst of a challenge:

1. Focus on what you can control.

It is easy when facing a challenge to try to control everything. But a more effective approach is to get clear about the outcome you want to see unfold. Then ask yourself, “What can I do to create that outcome?” It is easy to get distracted by the drama or frustrations of your challenge, but remain grounded and calm by refusing to allow distractions to cloud your thinking. Focus on the things you can do something about.

2. Accept what you cannot change.

It may be upsetting. It may be frustrating. But it is what it is. The sooner you accept what is, the sooner you can move forward. Resisting the inevitable is a waste of your precious energy.

3. Talk about it, but not too much.

When faced with a challenge, it can help to talk it through with a trusted person in your life. Getting things off your chest can leave you feeling lighter and clearer about how to move forward. But choose your talking partner wisely – some friends will get you more worked up than you already are! And that’s no good for your stress level. Choose someone who won’t feed the fire of negative emotions, but someone who will give you a helpful perspective, and the resolve to tackle the issue at hand in a wise way.

4. Manage your energy.

Some challenges are ongoing – a job loss, divorce, and problems with your health or your children, for example. Daily meditation, exercise and restful sleep will all help you reduce stress and manage your energy. But some challenges are in the moment – someone upsets you at work, for example. When you feel tempted to over respond in the heat of the moment, pause for a moment to give yourself a chance to contain that negative energy. Whether it’s a few deep breaths or a walk around the block, pausing before reacting can significantly reduce stress, and create a response to stress that de-escalates a situation and prevents you from doing or saying something you’ll later regret.

My challenge to you:

Identify the areas in your life that you cannot change. Accept it, and make a decision to move forward.


Journaling assignment:

Pray about it. What next step do you feel led to take?

The Difference Lies in the Confidence

Do you ever find yourself steaming over what you “should” have said in a conversation, but didn’t because you kept quiet?  Do you wish you could apply for a new position, but because you lack all of the qualifications, you don’t bother? Do you ever hold yourself back before others have a chance to reject you?  Confidence is what turns your thoughts into action – an invisible force that opens doors for the most successful people and closes them to those who often are more gifted, but less bold.  Think about it: In what area of your life would a boost of confidence propel you forward?

This week, I invite you to try these exercises to strengthen your confidence:

  1. Share an idea at work that is “above your pay grade.”

Research about confidence shows that those who speak up, suggest ideas and contribute are more likely to get ahead at work.  It isn’t about whether all of the ideas are good, but about the fact that if you are confident enough to believe that your ideas could have an impact, you’ll speak up.  That means eventually one of your ideas will stick. Decision makers are more likely to come to you to discuss solutions to problems.  You become a go-to person because you communicate.  Don’t focus on being perfect. Focus on making a positive contribution.


  1. Hear criticism and let it roll off your back.

It may sound counterintuitive because most people think of criticism as a confidence killer. But if you refuse to internalize criticism and instead look for the grain of truth in it to make you better, you remove the power of criticism to create insecurities.  Be honest with yourself. Is there any truth to the criticism? If so, what are you willing to do to improve? If there is no truth to it, don’t adopt someone else’s evaluation of you to become your own.


  1. Take a step you know you can achieve.

One of the fastest ways to build confidence is to experience a success. Do something you feel sure you can achieve. It is a small step toward increasing what psychologists call “self-efficacy,” your belief that you can do what you set out to do. As you achieve small steps, increase the challenge for the next step. Little by little, you build confidence.

My challenge to you this week:

Be intentional about building confidence. It is essential to building success at the next level.

Journaling assignment:

In what area of your life do you need a confidence boost? What is a step you could take this week to move in that direction?