Mentoring our clients through self-sabotaging patterns

Merja Sumiloff
3 min readDec 7, 2020

How successful coaches and mentors challenge their clients through limiting beliefs

Mentoring at the Institute of Management Consultants’ Annual event Sydney 2019


  1. Recognize the pattern that is running the sabotaging story. Recognizing the pattern that is running the sabotaging story can set your client free from their old frame of thinking and its subsequent results. To identify the sabotaging pattern, follow this step by step process:
  2. You will hear your client use similar words. Find the pattern that is there. What are they saying without necessarily saying it? What is the connecting element in everything that they are saying? For example, they may talk about money all the time in different forms: they may say that they’re struggling with loan repayments, they may make a nasty comment about someone who has a lot of money and they may be frustrated with their lack of disposable cash. Tune into patterns that are arising.
  3. Now, look for the essence in the pattern. Is the person feeling like they are not providing for their family because they are not making enough money? Are they feeling ashamed? Was there a lot of shame around money when they were growing up? Or are they prioritising their money on shoes and handbags instead of saving and investing? Do they feel a compulsion to purchase something just so that they can feel free, even for just an hour or a day? Are they feeling trapped by their current circumstances? What is the ultimate essence of their pain?
  4. When you get the essence of the words, use a clarifying question such as, “What I hear you say is …. Is that right?” Keep asking questions until you get a YES! That’s when you know you have really reached the client and they are feeling heard, and that they are ready to start tackling the actual issue.


Mentors must support, validate and pattern interrupt the client as is necessary. Remember, the client’s story is what is keeping them in the current reality.

  1. Validation is imperative, and needs to be done until the client feels heard and is able to admit and release the pain — sometimes even through sobbing on the call. When validating, make sure to share any personal experiences you may have in the moment — IF THEY ARE APPROPRIATE. When our…



Merja Sumiloff

Integration Mentor, personality profiler, Founder of Sumiloff Academy of Human Integration