The challenge of getting to know ourselves is a big one. For some, self-awareness is easier than for others. It requires a willingness to go deep inside and expose and confront all those messages we received in our early years, ones we accepted as true in order to survive as best we could. Unfortunately, many of those messages were inaccurate and have only resulted in frustration, disappointment, helplessness and feelings of failure.

As a culture, we tend to focus on problems and solutions. Many of the books on parenting have been written with this focus, resulting in varying success. I have learned a lot from my therapy and coaching practice and the hundreds of groups and workshops I have facilitated. Some of the topics include: conflict, communication, stress, leadership, team building, productivity, and self-empowerment. One of the lessons the participants learned is when people focus on tools and solutions, they may have temporary success, but usually don’t integrate the information in a way that lasts.

One requirement for effective change is to understand what it takes to give up long standing habits. While you may recognize a habit is not producing desired results, there is something that blocks you from shedding the habit and adopting a new one. One reason is the tendency to gravitate toward the familiar, even if it is not bringing the outcome you want. Familiarity provides a sense of predictability—you know the behavior well, and what effect it is likely to produce. People may try new practices for a while and then usually drift back to the old ways.

In order to experience success, it is important to understand what your own unique barriers are. You need to be willing to tolerate the discomfort of doing something new, not knowing how it will turn out. I’m reminded of the Einstein quote: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” This quote describes the pull to avoid the discomfort and uncertainty of new ways.

Your Living Legacy was written with a clear recognition of these issues. If you want to develop a healthy and lasting relationship with your child, you need to recognize how you are contributing to or diverting yourself from that goal, even with the very best of intentions. While not all children will turn out well, even with your best and most enlightened efforts, you will improve your odds considerably.

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