The Coaching Situation

This months winner used our guideline for making a life coaching request to outline their life coaching situation.

Give a short background about the incident or situation that's bothering you. The incident was that my father and I were discussing my financial situation and on a good note my parents offered to help me out and give me some money to help cover my bills. During the conversation he also reminded me of the last time they helped me out financially and the mistakes I had made in the past. Rarely do my parents tell me I did a good job on this or that, it's usually you made this mistake and negative feedback.

Then provide details on the situation you want help with. I do not need nor want to be reminded of my mistakes, I know what the hell they are. What I would like help with is that I am always trying to get the approval of my parents and succeed financially to the same degree as my siblings. I realize I have to stop trying to get their approval but continue to fall into that same pattern. How do I stop this? Also when I don't succeed at something I have established a pattern where my family always seems to make me feel like a failure.

How do you feel about this situation and the people involved. I get angry at them and want them to acknowledge that I am making attempts to get ahead instead of always reminding me of my errors. Even the car accidents that have happened when my life was going really well and I was happy seem like my fault even though I was sitting at a red light for light, another the fellow slid on ice and into my vehicle.

How do you feel about yourself? Allow feelings to free flow. I feel guilty, ashamed and anger when I made a bad choice. I can't sleep as I wake up thinking how could I have been so naive, so stupid to have made that error.

Express your frustration, anger, or any other emotion you can identify. I am sick to death of their negative attitude and want them to be more positive. I know my parents love me, but feel they don't respect and are constantly disappointed with who I am. In my work place and with my friends I am well liked and respected and feel really great about myself with others. I would like that with my parents but it seems it must be by their rules and they don't work for me. I would like them to accept me for who I am and be proud of the positive things I have done.

If there are other people involved, can you guess at what they feel about this situation? They have told me they love me and are frustrated for me that I didn't succeed on my ventures.

Tell us about any previous attempts to deal with the situation at hand. When I left my spouse of several years I went through a similar experience. I remained in the relationship for too long because I loved him so much and tried everything from counseling myself, changing my behavior, begging him to go to counseling with me until I realized he didn't want to grow nor change the emotional abusive pattern he had been brought up in. When I tried to explain this to my parents, my mother said what did you do. It was as though it was all my fault and he had nothing to do with it. Again it was a failure on my part as far as they were concerned even though I explained I gave it my best and didn't not want to waste my life.

What results do you want from your counseling? I would like to know techniques that I can help myself and communicate to them better. To not let my parents upset me and also get back the confidence to enable me to make decisions without worrying that I've made the right one. I have started to doubt myself now in the past couple of years where I never used to, I believed I could conquer the world. To find out techniques to make a shift in myself so that I have positive energy back. Also to keep the positive energy coming my way without all the bad drama situations.

Is there a part of you you'd like to understand better or want to change? Why do I care so much how they feel about me now when I was younger I didn't give a crap and just did my own thing. I want to stop doing or change whatever it is that is sabotaging the happiness in my life.

The Coaching Response

Being in a situation where you require financial assistance from your parents makes you feel indebted to your parents, and you’re afraid of doing or saying something that might make them angry and withdraw their financial support. This causes resentment, since you feel you're dependent on them for their assistance. Whenever we feel we can’t really say what we think or feel, our resentment turns into anger, primarily against ourselves. When you do get angry at your parents, you feel guilty, get angrier, and then even more resentful, creating a catch-22.

When you say you “feel they (your parents) don't respect and are constantly disappointed with who I am”, that is your judgment on yourself, not their judgment on you. Because you feel so negatively about yourself, you're assuming they also feel that way about you. You’re judging yourself for being in a position where you're not as independent as you’d like to be. By working through some of your self-judgments in this situation, you’ll be able to minimize your reactions with your parents.

We all make choices where things don’t turn out as well as we had hoped. Sometimes we’re comfortable with the consequences and other times we're devastated by the results. Let’s look at how you make choices. When you decide to do something, are you really being truthful to yourself as to what all the possible consequences might be? Of course we can’t foresee everything that might happen, but how honest are you being with yourself? Do you set yourself up with expectations and then get disappointed when you don’t get exactly what you want?

We sometimes use our family to compare ourselves to them, not realizing that doing so causes pain. Every time you compare yourself to a sibling, you reinforce a belief that they are ‘good’ and you're ‘bad’, or vice versa. These beliefs eat away at your self-esteem, making you feel worse about yourself.

This downward spiral affects your ability to make decisions. If you’ve lost your confidence, you’ll second-guess yourself and the people around you. Your subconscious is afraid of being rejected by the very people whose love means so much. You’re afraid that they see you and judge you the same way you see and judge yourself right now. What they say matters because your self-esteem is low. When you feel more confident, you place less value on what other people say.

This exercise will help you shift out of this negative cycle. Stop beating yourself up over the past. You can't change the past, but you can change your perception about what happened:

  1. Make a list of all of the decisions you’ve made that you feel were ‘bad’, putting each decision at the top of a separate page.
  2. Write down why you made that decision and what your expectations were.
  3. Looking back to when you made that decision, what additional knowledge did you have that might have affected the decision you ended up making. What different information do you have now?
  4. What thoughts did you have after the decision turned out not as you expected.
  5. For each negative thought that you identify, make an opposite list, i.e., if you thought, “I’m so stupid”, write “I am an intelligent person.” If you thought “I feel like a failure”, write “ I am successful at what I do”.

The purpose of this exercise is to look at the past and clarify how you made decisions. Look for patterns as to how you make decisions to be clear on possible results. Be careful to watch for how you may have ignored certain factors because you wanted to have a specific result. Decide now that you won't put expectations on your results, that if a decision doesn’t turn out as you had hoped, that you’ll still be okay with the consequences. You can either choose to feel like a victim of the results of your choices or you can choose to learn from what happened. The more you're aware of what happens and what you think when you make a decision, the better equipped you'll be to handle all possible consequences of your decisions.

Use the list of negative thoughts turned into positive ones as a guideline for directing internal dialogue into a more positive direction. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, consciously stop it and say “NO, that’s not true”, and replace it with a positive thought. Do this diligently for at least a week. The next time you speak to your parents, say to them “Mom, Dad, I’m afraid that you disapprove of the decisions that I make. I’m afraid that you’re critical of me and that you see me negatively.” Say this to them to break your perception on what your parents think of you. You’ll find that your fears are not true.

When you become vulnerable and express your innermost fears, what you’ll find is that your parents deeply love you and are concerned about you. As you take the steps to change how you think about yourself and your past, you’ll become more confident about your new decisions and how you feel. By releasing those past judgments, your life will become easier.

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