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Intangible Success Factors
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In the last section, we discussed replacement children. Do
you remember Jim and Rita from the last section? Because I was concerned
that Jim and Rita may have been unconsciously trying to obtain replacement
children, I took steps to uncover the couple’s true motivation.
In this section, we will discuss how success is intangible. Aspects
of this concept that I will describe include the three myths of success,
new sets of values, and true success. As
I introduce you to the case study of Joe, evaluate Joe’s situation to
see if any of the ideas are applicable to a client you are treating.
♦ #1 The Three Myths of Success
Have you ever treated a client who was grieving the loss of success? I
have found that grieving clients may have myths about what success really is. For
example, Joe, age 27, moved his family to California when he got hired by a
new dot com company. The web-based company was extremely lucrative at
first. Joe felt successful everyday because he had a new car and a nice
condo in L.A. Joe had enough money to buy many of the things he wanted
and all of the that things he needed. Joe felt
successful because he had acquired expensive things, large amounts of money,
and an extensive collection of material possessions. Joe had come to believe the three myths of success.
three myths of success that Joe believed were:
--Success is having nice things.
--Success is having a large amount of money. And
--Success is having an extensive collection of material possessions.
Joe’s myths of success were changed by his grief experience. Joe
stated, "I lost my job after just two months. The company went
under. They were totally broke, so no one got any type of severance pay
or anything. I thought I had a solid job, so I had no savings. Suddenly
all I had were a huge car payment and an even bigger mortgage! Not to
mention a three year old and a five year old to feed! My world had come
to an end!" If Joe had found success in himself and his family,
do you think he would have felt so deeply that his world had come to an end?
began to grieve the loss of his success. Shortly after losing his job,
Joe obtained employment at a nearby grocery store. The low wages he
earned only reaffirmed Joe’s belief that he was now unsuccessful. Joe’s
grief turned to depression. Joe state, "I couldn’t take it. I
still had a decent life insurance policy, so I decided that if I couldn’t
provide for my family while I was alive, then I’d provide for them by
dying. I spent a few days researching different methods of suicide so
it would look like an accident. My policy covered accidental drug overdose
as long as the medication was prescription. So I got a prescription for
diazepam and took the whole bottle."
Joe’s wife found him
and called 9-1-1. His stomach was pumped and Joe’s attempted suicide was obvious. His caseworker referred him to me. Do you have a Joe
who may be suicidal due to the loss of the myth of success?
♦ #2 New Sets of Values
The second aspect of the intangibility of success is creating new
sets of values. I found that Joe had a self-destructive set
of values. Joe stated, "I guess I didn’t appreciate
my money until it was gone." I asked Joe, "Do you realize
that your suicide attempt nearly lost you your future and your family?" Joe
acknowledged the realization that his suicide attempt nearly lost him his future
and family. Joe also admitted that he was preoccupied with losing his
Joe stated, "Now that I think about it, I would rather lose
a job than my family any day." I was glad to hear Joe begin to
accept a new set of values. Do you agree that because
Joe almost lost his life, he gained a keener appreciation of what was nearly
taken away? I have found that clients unlike Joe, who experience
the loss of a loved one, may develop a new set of values on their own. These
grieving clients can discover that what they have been taking for granted actually
has significant value.
Do you agree that much of what society considers
valuable begins to seem inconsequential to clients who grieve the loss of a
loved one? I have found that these new sets of values can
become a client’s strongest internal resource for dealing
with grief. In a later session Joe stated, "I definitely realize
my own mortality now. Time has become more precious because I know it
won’t last forever. My family is what’s really important."
♦ #3 True Success
In addition to the three myths of success and new
sets of values the third aspect is true success. Would
you agree that knowing what’s important in life can help a client understand
that true success is internal and intangible? After
Joe had realized that his family was more important than money or a job, he
learned that true success is internal and
intangible. Joe’s perception of success moved from fragmented
stated, "I really feel like my new values have helped me start to become
satisfied with who I am. I don’t need prestige or possessions to
feel whole anymore." As you have probably experienced, the cultivation
of positive internal values such as new values and a true perspective on success
can lead to grieving clients finding meaning in spite of loss. Do you
have a client you are currently treating who may benefit by having this section
played during a session?
In this section, we discussed how success is intangible. Aspects
of this concept that I described include the three myths of success,
new sets of values, and true success.
In the next section, we will discuss Investing in Solitude. We
will describe two techniques for investing in solitude. We will also
discuss the panic of being alone, and the three ways in which clients may try
to avoid self-awareness. The three ways in which clients may try to avoid
self-awareness are busyness, killing time, and noise.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Beller, J., & Wagner, A. (2018). Loneliness, social isolation, their synergistic interaction, and mortality. Health Psychology, 37(9), 808–813.
Bellet, B. W., LeBlanc, N. J., Nizzi, M.-C., Carter, M. L., van der Does, F. H. S., Peters, J., Robinaugh, D. J., & McNally, R. J. (2020). "Identity confusion in complicated grief: A closer look": Correction. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 129(6), 543.
Captari, L. E., Riggs, S. A., & Stephen, K. (2020). Attachment processes following traumatic loss: A mediation model examining identity distress, shattered assumptions, prolonged grief, and posttraumatic growth. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Advance online publication.
Sonesh, S. C., Coultas, C. W., Marlow, S. L., Lacerenza, C. N., Reyes, D., & Salas, E. (2015). Coaching in the wild: Identifying factors that lead to success. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 67(3), 189–217.
Strack, J., Lopes, P., Esteves, F., & Fernandez-Berrocal, P. (2017). Must we suffer to succeed? When anxiety boosts motivation and performance. Journal of Individual Differences, 38(2), 113–124.
Zautra, A. J., & Wrabetz, A. B. (1991). Coping success and its relationship to psychological distress for older adults. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(5), 801–810.
What are three aspects of how success is intangible?
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