Recently, I had a coaching encounter with a client who felt stuck at work. We used muscle testing and Neuro Emotional Coaching® to analyze and uncover what was holding her back. I went through the usual list of statement to test her reality. So I asked her to make the following statements:
• I am OK with being successful.
• I am OK with making xxx amount of money.
• I am OK with being promoted.
• I am OK with balancing my family and work lives.
On every one of these statements or assertions as I call them, this executive coaching client had a positive muscle test – meaning that she was in alignment with the statement. Her unconscious and conscious thoughts and feelings were congruent with the statement. After about 10 minutes, she and I were both a little frustrated, but determined to figure out what was making her feel ill at ease and as though she couldn’t move forward.
After a short period of additional inquiries, my coaching client had a moment of clarity in which she said to me, “You know, I have been working with Terry (not her real name) for years and she relies on me, asking me for feedback all the time. I like to be helpful to her and like her. But, maybe, I’m stuck because I’m afraid to let go of her need for me. Maybe I need to be needed.”
With that, back to muscle testing we went. I am OK with Terry being self-reliant. Bingo – the client’s arm went down. She clearly was being held back by her need to be needed. (For additional information about her I incorporate muscle testing into coaching visit my website).
What I want is to be needed. What I need is to be indispensable to somebody.
Who I need is somebody that will eat up all my free time, my ego, my attention. Somebody addicted to me. A mutual addiction.
– Chuck Palahniuk from his book Choke
This quote sums up co-dependency just brilliantly and, in my estimation, it doesn’t paint a pretty picture. We are all working towards autonomy, self-actualization and independence. Yet, there can be a real power in needing to be needed. It feels good to most of us because it means we are not alone. It means that we serve a purpose. It means we have somewhere to go, someone to talk to, some place to put our energy and spend our time. But, if we take that need to be needed to an extreme, it may take away from us more than we get. It is important to establish a good balance between being there for the other and making sure we take care of ourselves.
At work, it is empowering to know that you make a difference and that people can depend on you. I have an executive coaching client who was an associate in a high powered law firm whose senior partner relied on him for everything. He was his “go to” person. His need for her legal mind, time and friendship made my client feel great and took away some of his insecurity. Though very intelligent, he didn’t see herself that way and felt protected by the senior partner. And that co-dependency worked for a long time, long after he himself became a partner. Even while recognizing that there were unhealthy aspects to the relationship, the client decided that, on balance, he’d rather stay in it than risk what would happen if he let go and set out on her own. Then, the firm began to fail and lost some of its major clients. My client, who, through all those years had developed no clients of his own, was no longer needed by the senior partner. Yet, he had not built business marketing skills, and, as a very senior attorney, found himself without a job and unable to go to another firm in a senior position because he had no book of business. This literally marked the end of his once successful career as an attorney. He came to me for executive coaching to help him establish himself in a new business with new skills, ambitions and motivations. This is one of many stories I could tell. But here are the lessons to learn:
• Assess your situation at work and determine if there is someone who is keeping your attention and preventing you from moving forward on your own.
• Examine the pros and cons of staying in a symbiotic relationship.
• Decide if moving forward without that person or thing is something you want to achieve.
• Make a list of what you can do to move forward on your own. The first step is establishing boundaries.
• If you feel angry at yourself or the other, that’s ok. Use the anger to fuel you to make the changes you want; do not direct it at yourself or at the other.
• Recognize that the work of breaking out of the co-dependent relationship may be very difficult. It happened over a long period of time and will take time to end.
And, as an added thought, you might want to consider that a whole business can suffer from a co-dependent relationship. One of my executive coaching clients who works in the marketing field relied on a very large international company for 75-80% of his business and hired a number of employees to address just this one client’s needs. The CEO became so involved with the primary client that he took his eye off other aspects of the business. He didn’t use good judgment and foresight to consider what might happen if he lost his “money maker.” The inevitable happened when the client moved to another company for a fresher perspective. Left with just a couple of small clients, my client had to terminate the employment of all but one of his employees and suffered through many years of financial hardship while he rebuilt his business. Another lesson learned: Don’t allow yourself to become so dependent on one client or supplier; always maintain a forward-looking perspective and trust in your abilities.
At Clear Intentions International we can help you bring an end to co-dependent relationships and help you move forward to self-actualization, confidence and power, regardless of its nature.