One of my colleagues made a statement about marriage therapy I believe is important to pass along. She said, “I think people need to work on themselves first and clear up their individual issues before the couple counseling can be effective.” As I thought about this, it is true in all relationships and not just in marriages. In a friendship or in a work relationship, if we have personal issues centered around poor self-esteem, controlling others, poor boundaries, etc. it effects the relationship.
Steven Covey in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” outlines the 7 habits in working first on taking care of the inside of ourselves and then dealing with the outside or public. I would like to reference these habits for those who have not read the book, as a reminder of the importance of dealing with yourself first and the steps in doing so.
The first three habits:
(1) Be Proactive
(2) Begin with and End in Mind
(3) Put First things First
All deal with our ability to govern our life. Being proactive means taking responsibility for your life and thinking before you act. Beginning with the end in mind means defining your goals and your mission in life so your direction in life is clear. Putting first things first means to prioritize and do the most important things first so that your life doesn’t become cluttered.
The next 4 habits are centered on being able to interact effectively with others. Habit (4) is about thinking or working for a win-win. It is an attitude of mutual respect for the opinion of others as well as your own. Habit (5) is seek first to understand and then to be understood. All have a unique insight and we need to listen with intent to understand rather than to reply. Habit (6) is to synergize. When we work together with an attitude of success for all we will achieve more. Finally habit (7) is sharpening the saw. Sharpening the saw is about taking care of you and renewing yourself physically, socially/emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
I would love to hear ways you take care of yourself first so you can in turn have healthy relationships with others. Email me at with questions or comments.
Richard Y Moody, PhD
Clinical Psychologist