Counselling and Psychotherapy for
Body, Mind and Spirit

Ina Stockhausen, MTC

Ina Stockhausen R.P.C. offers spiritual counselling and body psychotherapy or somatic counseling in Burnaby and North Vancouver.

Making others happyAre you getting bigger because you’re keeping yourself small Part 2

Are you busy making sure everyone around you is happy, i.e. do you spend your life pleasing others? Do the needs of those dearest and nearest to your heart control what your day looks like? Do you feel like you can never do what YOU want?

Part 1 of this series discussed how assuming responsibility for the wellbeing of others can contribute to emotional stress. Feelings of anxiety, worry or pressure can trigger Emotional Eating or other unhealthy coping habits like shopping addiction or internet addiction for someone who has gotten used to soothing inner frustrations from the “outside.”

When you are busy focusing on the happiness of others, it’s easy to get disconnected from your own needs.

What do I mean, when I talk about “needs”? I like the definition of needs by Manfred Max Neef, an economist from Chile known for his human development model based on fundamental human needs.

Manfred Neef identified 9 basic human needs that we all share:

  • Sustenance – the basic physical needs such as food, air, water and shelter
  • Safety and protection
  • Love and affection
  • Empathy
  • Rest, recreation, play
  • Community
  • Creativity
  • Autonomy
  • Identity – need for meaning and purpose – need to contribute to life and how our efforts are making life and our surroundings richer.

In this post I would like to focus on the need of Autonomy.

In my work with clients, I have noticed that a yearning or longing for independence or, shall we say a perceived lack of freedom to be who you want to be and do what you want to do in your life can be a contributing factor to emotional eating, overspending or other self-soothing activities.

We all need autonomy.

Having autonomy implies freedom and choice. Your ability to listen and trust the voice in your heart increases, when you have the freedom to make your own decisions and follow your volition.

Low self-esteem and closed-mindedness dramatically impact autonomy.

When you are the prisoner of your inner critic which is telling you that you aren’t good enough or that you don’t deserve certain things, you lose your freedom. While perhaps nobody in your environment is curtailing your autonomy, you end up limiting your own freedom.

Getting caught up in feeling responsible to make everyone happy, can leave you feeling like there is very little room left for you to exercise autonomy.

Journaling can be an excellent tool to help you get in touch with what you really want and the person you really want to be.

Try this exercise called “Emptying out” at the end of the day. Mentally go thru your day and remember those moments when you felt frustrated, hurt, disappointed or anxious or any other emotions that left you feeling stressed and contracted. If you’re an emotional eater for example, go back to all the times you ate when you weren’t hungry physically.

  • What was going on for you?
  • What inner conflict were you caught in?
  • What would you have really liked to do or say but didn’t?
  • Why didn’t you?

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series where we will look at the need of rest, recreation and play and how playing can impact your weight.

In the meantime, I wish you continued success in making positive life changes.

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