Clearing Obstacles: Part 3 Of Creating A Life Program


Singles seeking contentment: What are the hurdles to your happiness?

Everyone knows when you’re taking a trip to an unknown place you need a road map to refer to in order to reach your destination. Well, my friends, that is exactly what we are doing in creating a life program, a practical tool you can begin using today to start changing your life and moving past the obstacles that are keeping you from being truly happy.

Our first two were simple, but maybe not easy (read step one here and step two here)  – defining what you and your life looks like when you are truly happy and then identifying five obstacles you are encountering that get in the way of you being happy. If you are satisfied with what you’ve got from the first two steps, it’s time to move forward.

The third step is again simple, yet thought provoking: Write down five practical ways you can overcome these obstacles.

For example, if one of the items on your list is to have a better relationship with God, then you want to choose one practical way to move you toward your goal of being closer to God.

You might choose to commit to going to Mass every Sunday if you are not doing so now, or Mass during the week if you are a faithful Sunday attendee. You might choose to go to confession if it’s been longer than six months since you last went, or maybe to begin going every two weeks instead of just whenever. You might choose to commit to spending time in prayer before you get ready for the day…Really, the possibilities are endless, but should be determined by you because you know yourself and your life.

If one of the obstacles holding you back happens to be anger toward your ex-spouse or someone else who has hurt you, you might consider picking up an excellent book entitled How to Forgive Yourself and Others. You may want to consider starting a journal where you can write freely about how you feel and begin to disseminate that anger in a safe and confidential way. If therapy is in order, I encourage you to visit where you can search in your area for solid Catholic counselors.

As you make this list of five practical ways to overcome the obstacles you’ve identified, make sure the means you choose are realistic and do-able. The best way to become discouraged is by trying to accomplish something that is unrealistic or out of your control. 

Once you’ve got these tools in place, you’ve got your road map ready.

And now, for the fourth step…



  1. Stephen-725391 January 20, 2012 Reply


    This third step is more of a stumbling block than the first two. Three questions seem to proffer themselves in that regard.

    1. You mentioned “How to Forgive Yourself and Others”, a subject that I have been fighting for at least 3 years or more. You didn’t mention the author, that would help in finding it.

    2. You suggested writing a journal. I have heard of this but in different context – my father kept one for a ‘bear’ of a job he was superintendent on for CYA, my youngest daughter keeps one, and when practicing law it great to have one from my client to beat up the other side. I just don’t understand how a journal is helpful in beginning to live in the present and getting on with life.

    3. Since Trust is a huge obstacle, my comment under part 2, what does one put down as something doable to eliminate that obstacle any effective way?

    • Lisa Duffy
      Lisa Duffy January 21, 2012 Reply

      Hello, Stephen!

      Thank you so much for your questions. I hear what your saying and would like to clarify.

      1. “How to Forgive Yourself and Others” is a book written by Fr. Eamon Tobin and can be found on Amazon.Com quite easily. I’ve given many copies of these books away and believe it can provide a proverbial healing ointment for the emotional wounds and scars we bear. Although it’s geared toward anyone who’s struggling with forgiveness, it’s highly appropriate for divorced men and women, because often times, the anger and resentment they must deal with is on an extreme level.

      2. As far as keeping a journal goes, you would definitely need to separate your professional purpose from the one I am encouraging you to write. It has nothing to do with creating a record of someone else’s bad behavior so you can bring it before a judge and use it as evidence… what I am suggesting is to have a pad of paper, a notebook, a computer file, etc. that is for your eyes alone to pour out your anger, your opinions, your difficulties and in a way that you can just let it all fly out. You don’t have to worry about someone else reading it and judging it. You can just write it out. Get it out of your head and heart, through your hands and on to paper. It’s an extremely theraputic exercise to just write, write, write.

      Within just a few months of my ex-husband leaving me, I began keeping journals. They were nothing fancy at all – just some spiral-bound ruled notebooks I picked up at the drug store. Every night before I attempted sleep, I wrote. Mine began, “Dear God” and I wrote as if I were speaking to Him. I spared nothing as I wrote. All my anger, disillusionment, shock, etc. spilled out on to these pages because I knew it was a safe environment. No one would see what I was writing.

      Years later as I was moving from one state to another, I found a box with these notebooks in them and I paused to flip through the pages… and I was absolutely amazed at how far I had come since then… how much God’s grace had worked in my life. It was an incredible experience and then, I shredded them all. I never wanted to revisit that anger again and in shredding those pages, I opened a new door in my life.

      3. Since trust is a huge obstacle for you I would like to suggest two things: first, please get a copy of “Can God Be Trusted” by my very good friend, Fr. Thomas Williams, LC (also available on and then; take your time with these steps and do them month-by-month instead of week-by-week. Our emotions are like onion skins… you peel back one and then you have to get to the next so if the first layer hurts, give it a little time before you peel the next one. There’s nothing wrong with slowing down the pace. Timing is important, so be patient with yourself and the process. I believe this will work for you.

      As always, Stephen, you are in my prayers and I appreciate your comments.

      • Stephen-725391 January 22, 2012 Reply

        Lisa, Thank you for your very helpful comments. At this time purchase of those books which I’m sure are good is out of the question due to financial constraints, a fact that I would rather explain in private. Somewhere I read that you do this kind of counseling, but, that to, is outside my ability at the current time. What is important and that I am struggling with is – even if I did these things, which takes time, it just burns up more time, since by the time I got to any benefit (I going to be 63 in March), I’ll be too old. That being said, I guess I should start the journal thing – but to what end? Address it to God, Who would be one of those I would rant at? Cathartic (I looked up that word) seems to be applicable but how does that help, all it would seem to do is bring the pain, the hurt, the anger, the wasted time (20 or more years) to the surface again only to be re-lived and reminded of? Stephen

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