Love Yourself to Success:  A Family Triumphs Over Self-Sabotage

The concept… to love yourself to success has long been a mantra of mine.  Whether you want to reach your own goals or work together, with others, love can and does conquer myriad difficulties even when you are challenged and stuck in old repetitive self-sabotaging patterns.

I would like to share an uplifting coaching experience with a family… where in just a few short hours, the seemingly impossible happened right before our eyes.  There had been a gradual build-up of tension and anger between the parents and their teen who wanted little more than to exert her own independence.  My intuition led me to do more than being a referee; I served instead as a facilitator… a conduit of skills and modeling of valuing tenderness, respect, and affection for the family. This was their first step to understanding my mantra, to love yourself to success.

The process called Initially for each person to employ a system of expressing appreciation and affection for the other’s efforts and support to create a buffer before expressing the details of any anger, hurt, sadness, frustration, or fears within. The family quickly understood how important this prelude is to reveal dissatisfaction… how easily it sets the tone for amicability and working together to understand and resolve differences.

The family members learned how to act as listener and speaker. Those who listened quickly learned to mirror the feelings and the reasons behind the feelings being shared.  As each person was better able to accurately describe the hurt, pain, and insecurities of the other, a magical transformation of kindness emerged. This step was the more difficult for the listener… calling for the kind of support where there was no attempt to talk the speaker out of his or her thoughts or feel compelled to provide solutions to quiet the speaker.

Instead, each participant listened attentively, maintained excellent eye contact, and began to demonstrate compassion and respect for themselves and each other as they listened for the hurt beneath the anger and sought to keep the focus on the speaker. The experience and the outcome were far different from their typical custom to bring the conversation back to themselves—their own thoughts, feelings, and reactions—through justifying and defending their sense of entitlement and actions.

Several dramatic changes took place to create a space for sharing, each strengthing the ability to “love yourself to success.”  The family members were able to…

  • Be more specific about actions that caused emotional and mental upset and provided examples in a calm manner.
  • Show respect for one another by making sure the focus stayed on the speaker.
  • Take turns speaking about their struggles and begin to be clear on what they needed and wanted to be more cooperative, united and showing warmth to each other.
  • Understand the deeper needs of the speaker and how to fulfill them.
  • Take personal responsibility for the hardships and conflicts that each contributed to the situation.
  • Develop a “safe word” that was neutral to help remind each of them to take a timeout when emotions would escalate uncontrollably if one or more engaged in attacks of the other.
  • Understand and speak-adult to adult-rather than a parent to a child, or reacting as child to parent.
  • Take turns listening, where a greater intellectual and emotional understanding began to take place…one of empathy, of being able to put themselves in the other’s situation to imagine and sense what it would be like to be in the other’s shoes.
  • Realize the harder they pushed, the more resistance followed…as tension matched intensity and adverse outcomes.
  • Understand that any conflict was temporary…and that they could negotiate better outcomes by taking personal responsibility.
  • Depersonalize the situations, which called for not taking another’s behavior personally…and embracing the reality that the behavior was not directed toward them, but about the experience of the person exhibiting the behavior`.

By the end of the session, each family member had learned to make direct requests of each other to resolve issues; they developed a “blueprint” of agreed-upon actions going forward.  By becoming honest, open, and vulnerable, this family was able to become closer and to learn new information about each other. The greatest outcome was being able to have true intimacy in the manner in which they could show ways of communicating and loving each other.

Learning to love yourself to success…

Mamiko Odegard, PhD