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Dr. Diana Hill

Are you hitting wall? Try three steps to move beyond the obstacles.

Published 8 months ago • 2 min read


Dear Reader,

"I’ve hit a wall," I told my husband last weekend while looking at four loads of laundry in my hallway, a week's worth of treatment notes on my computer, and two kids needing activity away from screens. It's a familiar wall of overwhelm.

Do you relate?

If not, maybe you’ve hit one of these walls instead:

  • A wall of self-doubt that derails you from taking risks at work
  • A wall of body shame blocking you from exercise
  • A wall of fear preventing you from making a change in your relationship

When you hit a wall, you might try to run at it harder (“I’ can white knuckle this”) or feel defeated (“I’ can't do it. I give up.“).

I’ve sat with hundreds of clients exhausted from hitting their walls. And I’ve learned from clinical experience, contemplative practice, and psychological science there’s a better way to approach your inner obstacles.

  1. Take a closer look: When you’ve hit a wall, pause and get curious about it. You could even start to dialogue with the obstacle, as Dr. Richard Schwartz taught me in this week’s podcast on Internal Family Systems. Some questions to ask:
    • How old are you?
    • Why are you here?
    • What do you need from me?
    • How can I help you?
  2. Befriend the wall. Overwhelm, anxiety, depression, addiction, and relationship struggles are not your enemy. By understanding your obstacles better, you can make friends with them and offer help . Try a little Metta graffiti.
    • Greet the wall of overwhelm: May you feel grounded.
    • Offer the wall of insecurity: May you feel cared for.
    • Tell the wall of addiction: May you feel truly satisfied.
  3. Enter differently. Once you’ve learned more about and befriended your wall, you can approach it with wise action. What personal values and strengths can you apply here? Humor? Creativity? Kindness? Perseverance? Soulfulness? How can you move through this while balancing effort and ease? Who can support you as you go? How can you support yourself?

We’re all going to hit a wall occasionally, and it’s essential to know they’re not as solid as they appear.

When you approach your walls with open eyes, understanding, and willingness, they can become doorways for compassion.

Your obstacles are your offerings.

You may discover there are unexpected gifts in facing inner obstacles this way: the gift of learning about yourself, the gift of becoming more flexible, the gift of seeing our common humanity, and the gift of loving the life you have.

Many blessings and more good to come.

Something to listen to:

Check out Richard Schwartz and me in this real play where I find a peaceful collaboration between my inner parts.


Something to watch:

I’m speaking at the Raising Good Humans Summit on how to use ACT to parent with psychological flexibility. Let’s get our kids off to good start. They will need flexible, values-based minds to tackle the problems they are facing.

For Clinicians:

I’ll be at ACBS World Conference online this year, offering two workshops:

  1. Doing More But Never Doing Enough: Help your clients unhook from productivity anxiety and engage in skillful means with Wise Effort
  2. The Paradox of Fertility and Pregnancy Loss: How to Help Clients Accept the Immensity of Grief While Holding Hope for the Future

Something to write about:

What wall are you facing right now?

What do you tend to do when this wall shows up?

What is this wall protecting you from?

What does it need from you?

How do you want to show up when faced with this wall?


Dr. Diana Hill

Psychological Flexibility Guide

Learn evidenced-backed, contemplative ideas and practices to help you develop your psychological flexibility. If you want to put your efforts into what you care most about, this twice-monthly Wise Effort newsletter is for you. Join the Wise Effort newsletter community!

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