Joan's Story

What she wishes she hadn't learned from her mom 

Joan was a single woman in her late 20's when she came to me for help with relationships. She loved her boyfriend, but felt nervous and anxious about their relationship. Her anxiety was tearing the relationship apart.

In her mind she knew better, yet emotionally Joan felt that she just wasn't good enough for him. She found herself constantly seeking his approval. She had difficulty believing he would remain with her. This created a growing rift in their relationship.

When the couple came to see me, they were on the verge of separating.

Joan was channeling her mother's anxiety

I asked Joan about her childhood. Joan shared that her mother had also been a very anxious woman. Joan recalled that her mom was always focusing on herself, and seldom paid any real attention to her. Mom was fully absorbed in trying to please Joan's father. Joan spoke of all the ways she attempted to get her mother's attention, only to receive rejection.

Joan grew up insecure, with little to no self-esteem and self-confidence. The result was that Joan–without realizing it–had adopted her mother's unsuccessful relationship coping skills.

Joan's father, she recalled, spent more time at work than at home. It got Joan thinking that, perhaps, he stayed away to avoid her mother's relentless and exhausting pursuit of his approval. With this insight Joan then wondered if her boyfriend felt the same way as her father had felt.

Breaking the cycle

Once Joan began to understand how she was repeating her mother's behavior toward her father, and thus poisoning her relationship with her boyfriend, she became determined to break the cycle. From this point on our sessions had a specific goal: to improve Joan's sense of self-esteem.

As we worked through subsequent sessions together, Joan learned to recognize her positive characteristics, and then to enhance them. We practiced techniques of "self-talk" to counter the rejection she had suffered as a child, and to give herself the approval she needed. Joan's self-esteem and security grew, and so did the relationship with her boyfriend.

Supportive boyfriend

Joan's boyfriend was supportive of her efforts to learn how to be part of a healthy, affirming relationship. At several turning points in Joan's course of therapy, he was invited to join us in the therapy session. In this way he came to understand why Joan had continually pursued him for his attention and approval.

As Joan learned how to relate to him in a loving manner, and not out of neediness for his affirmation, their relationship bloomed. Eventually both felt that they had the tools to continue to grow their union, they went away a much healthier and happier couple.

Are you ready to begin?

If the moment has arrived where you have decided to take action and begin the process that can change your life, I invite you to send me a message or call now: 626 571-0077. I will get back to you promptly.