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Entries from September 2009

How the Hidden Blueprint of Childhood Directs Your Career


How can a damaged upbringing hurl you into career greatness?

You’ve probably heard of numerous examples where people have beaten all odds and succeeded in accomplishing their dreams. The subtle message in these cases seems to suggest that rough beginnings and hardships are the secret ingredients to success. That’s why I laughed and laughed when I heard the line “Don’t fix your Daddy issues!” on Samantha Who?, a former ABC sitcom starring Christina Applegate as an amnesiac who finds herself in a successful job but learns she wasn’t a very nice person to many people. The friend that cautioned her from getting to know her father better said that those initial family problems were exactly why she was so good in her job. (Clearly this advice isn’t so good for my job. But if you watch the show, you’ll learn she’s a much happier person by reuniting with her emotions and changing her former greed at all costs approach to life.)

Similarly, I’m often asked how our childhoods can affect our jobs—especially the risk-taking nature of an entrepreneur. It’s highly individual of course, but here’s a theory that can satiate your curiosity a bit. See if you can identify yourself in any of the following categories and learn how it impacts you, your loved ones and your career and  business ventures.

The attachment theory is one of my favorites and a lot of empirical research has given it more validity over the years. The simple description of attachment theory is how you initially bonded with your primary caregiver (Mother? Father? Adopted parent?) forms the basis of how you will interact (or attach) to everything else in your life. This can be a relationship, hobby, home, career and/or your business venture. 

Secure Attachment – The person who has a secure attachment received the perfect balance of love and nurturing from their parent. The parent was attentive to their needs and empathetic (could feel their feelings). The parent was not intrusive (bugging the baby even if the baby expressed displeasure) or neglectful (not paying attention to the baby). The securely attached person grows up with a sense of confidence, trust, and wisdom. They do not stay in situations that do not work. For example, they would move on if a relationship or venture showed clear signs of failure. Conversely, they would not just give up either. They would make the appropriate amount of effort. (Not everyone has this attachment style, but it’s something we can all learn to cultivate in life.

Avoidant Attachment – The avoidant person had a parent that was more neglectful. The parent could not empathize or was just so busy that they could not be as responsive to their child. Consequently, the child learned that being alone was normal. The avoidant adult is not as good with empathy. Moreover, they do not handle intimacy very well as it can feel suffocating and provoke anxiety. They prefer to keep a distance. This can translate into getting into relationships but not being very close (perhaps traveling or working a lot to maintain adequate distance). It can also mean growing tired of ventures and needing new things to do more frequently.

Insecure Attachment – An insecure attachment simply means that the parent swung from being available to not being available, leaving the baby confused and feeling more anxious about losing and/or attracting the parent. The insecure adult brings this underlying anxiety into their relationships and constantly battles with the fear of losing relationships and the desire to have distance. This person most experiences the tension of the togetherness and separateness continuum. In their venture, they may vacillate about what to do as a consequence.

Paying attention to your anxiety is key to healing the wound if you find yourself identifying with the latter two styles. Re-nurturing yourself can help shift you into a more secure attachment style. You can also go to a counselor or coach as this is one of the secret reasons such processes work. The bond you develop with your therapist or coach can form a new attachment style when your interactions are trusting, open and positive. 

(Stay tuned for the next blog post as it will discuss ways you can self-nurture and self-heal.)

Can Your Relationship be Saved? Signs Your Relationship is in Danger and What You can Do About It

There is no greater pain than the loss of a loved one. When a loved one passes, their death has a way of completely incapacitating you by enveloping your entire being with an unyielding suffocating pain, overwhelming sadness, and intense despair. But what happens when the one you love is still alive and the flame of your love – your relationship – is dying? I once had a friend cry to me and exclaim that her divorce was more painful than a death because the man she loved and ached to be with was still alive, right there before her eyes, but he chose to love another. It took her two years to heal. Now she’s remarried with children and living the blissful dream so many desire. But what if her relationship to her first husband could have been saved? Would it have been worth it? And if it could have been saved, at what point could things have changed?

The ending of any relationship, whether friendship, lover, even a relationship with a former job, can be devastating. Sometimes old abandonment wounds resurface when a relationship ends, making the pain even greater. In addition, people grieve the loss of a dream. People also blame themselves and/or the other person in an attempt to understand and logically deal with the loss. I’d like to suggest that no one is particularly to blame when a relationship ends. Rather, some relationships simply catch a disease. The key is to recognize the symptoms of the disease and try to catch it early with treatment. (Note-89% of couples seek help after it’s too late-preventative help works best.)

Couplefight To describe the symptoms of a diseased relationship, I’ll point out John Gottman’s findings. Gottman and his colleagues have studied relationships for over 20 years and have been able to articulate exactly what goes wrong in a relationship. It is this research that lets him identify—with 91% accuracy—which couples are headed for divorce. It’s not magic. He just understands the symptoms of a relationship in trouble. Following are findings from his research that clearly indicate the presence of what I refer to as a diseased relationship.

Relationship Disease Stage One-The couple begins to complain about each other. The honeymoon is over and now the little complaints begin to show up like fatigue. Getting treatment at this stage means recognizing the symptom, talking about it with each other, and making an effort share your feelings in a way that doesn’t come off like a complaint. If complaints persist, remedy immediately with acknowledgement of the hurt, and a kiss, tickle, laughter or some form of positive reinforcement of your love. Counseling at this stage is highly effective for curing the disease.

Relationship Disease Stage Two-Like a tickle in your throat and a low-grade fever, complaints have now escalated into down right criticisms. Now you’re attacking each other with little darts. Such criticisms sting more than complaints. Worse they leave little scars on your heart. Treatment is critical at this stage. Recognize and talk about it with each other. Try to reassure each other. Understand where the little scars have been placed and take responsibility for treating them. Give love, healing and support to each other. If a criticism has been launched, make immediate steps to repair or else you’re in danger of the disease taking hold. Counseling at this stage is effective for treating the disease.

Relationship Disease Stage Three-The fever has heightened and the disease has taken hold when criticisms turn into contemptuous remarks and silent treatment (Gottman calls it stonewalling). Grenades are launched at each other and repairs aren’t being made. Get help immediately if you’re experiencing these deadly symptoms. When left untreated, the disease takes over and sours everything in your life. The more you run from confronting the disease, the more it controls you. Worse, it truly begins affecting your health. Communication, love, healing, and genuine sharing are critical at this stage. Taking responsibility for the deep scars your grenades left in your loved ones heart is essential. They, too, need to take responsibility for the wounds they left in your heart. Healing cannot occur until the scars are illuminated and treated. Counseling can be effective at this stage for putting the disease in remission. 

Relationship Disease Stage Four and Five-This is where many couples seek help (if they seek help). The disease has taken its toll and is ready for emergency treatment. Contempt and silent treatment have now escalated into arming oneself with a perpetual defensive wall. Worse, damaging memories from former diseased interactions (unhealthy and hurtful fights that were never adequately repaired) have now cast an unfavorable light onto the entire relationship. You both talk about your problems more than you have fun. Dirty looks or unhappy expressions occur one out of five smiles or happy expressions (yes, Gottman has revealed that one bad apple needs at least 25 good ones to keep couples happy…one to five odds are a very dangerous sign). At this stage, serious attention needs to be placed on the relationship. Can it be resuscitated or are attempts to heal it futile? Seek help from a professional immediately. If there is danger in the relationship (the attacks have crossed into physical confrontations, threats, abuse), get immediate help to get out as the diseased relationship is now affecting your health and wellbeing. Please call 911 if you are in imminent danger.

If you’re experiencing a disease in your relationship or would like help preventing a disease from occurring in your relationship, please call me (Kimberly Key) at 512-617-6356 to discuss the best treatment method for your situation.