The Four Seasons Of Moving Through Tough Times with Deidre Combs, Ph.D.

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There are four phases that show up again and again in order to thrive in challenging times and Deidre Combs equates them to the seasons. We get a medical report, we’re facing a divorce, or coping with the death of a loved one. It’s in the autumn when things are falling apart. Combs describes the other seasons thusly, “We recognize there’s some period where things get really dark. We are feeling helpless; that’s the winter of tough times. If we can make it through the winter and pull ourselves back up [we arrive at] the spring and a time of new beginnings and new forms. Lastly we arrive at summer as we move back into nurturing these new ways.” She says that in the autumn of our challenging times we need to ask certain questions such as: who’s with you, what resources do you have, who or what are you fighting, what is this new territory I’m standing in right now? She also admonishes us to find a team of supportive people to help us through the seasons. She says, “let people know you're struggling, we're not supposed to do this alone.” (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Dr. Deidre Combs, is a licensed mediator and corporate consultant. She’s a core instructor in Montana State University’s Leadership Fellows Certificate Program. Since 2007, she has taught intensive leadership training to State Department-selected student and professional leaders from throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Eurasia, Latin America and Pakistan’s FATA region.

Her books include:

To learn more about the work of Deidre Combs go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • What are the attributes of the four seasons of tough times
  • What are the types of questions we must ask ourselves when things are falling apart
  • How the Sumerian myths of Inanna going into the underworld applies to our life in tough times
  • How do we choose a team of people to be with us and what attributes must they have
  • Why our job is to gently nudge each other but not to fix each other
  • As a helping person, how to know when to push and when to allow
  • How winter can be a time of great potential, a time for re’s: reflect, reassess, relax, recover
  • Why we must allow anger to move through us in healthy ways in tough times
  • How we can create a mantra for ourselves to ease life’s transitions
  • Why we need to create a ritual to mark transitions

Host: Justine Willis Toms      Interview Date: 1/18/2013      Program Number: 3462

Music Playlist

Album: Fingerdance
Artist: Billy McLaughlin
1996 Narada #ND-61058

Opening Essay: Track 02 Hurricane Bob
Music Break 1: Track 01 Fingerdance
Music Break 2: Track 03 Helms Place
Music Break 3: Track 06 While She Sleeps