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Section 12
Intangible Success Factors

CEU Question 12 | CEU Test | Table of Contents | Grief
Counselor CEUs, Social Worker CEUs, Psychologist CEs, MFT CEUs

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On the last track we discussed replacement children.  Do you remember Jim and Rita from the last track?  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. 

On this track 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. 

The 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? 

Joe 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 job. 

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 thaCEU Continuing Education for
Social Worker CEU, Psychologist CEU, Counselor CEU, MFT CEU
t 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 to focused. 

Joe 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 track played during a session?

On this track 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. 

On the next track, 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. 

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 12
What are three aspects of how success is intangible? To select and enter your answer go to CEU Test.

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