Counselling and Psychotherapy for
Body, Mind and Spirit

Ina Stockhausen, MTC

info@positivelifechanges.ca
778-558-8207

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

Addiction

Relationship counselling and addiction recovery can help you rebuild your marriageIt doesn’t matter whether you love someone who is struggling with Addiction or if you are an Addict, part of the emotional roller coaster of living with Addiction is the impact it has on your self-esteem. As an Addictions Counsellor and Marriage therapist I often help couples navigate the journey of recovery from co-depency and other addiction to rebuilding trust and self-esteem.

Can you relate to Hank and Renée?

When Hank and Renée came to see me for Relationship Therapy and Addiction counselling, a major issue in their relationship was lack of trust  caused by broken promises.  Promises made by  Hank to stop with his cocaine addiction.  Renée was a classic loved one who had stuck by her husband during 4 years of cocaine addiction feeling helpless, powerless, confused, hurt and overwhelmed. In the beginning she tried to fix things, trying to  control his addiction by trying to manage his moods and environment.  She pleaded and cajoled; she issued ultimatums that she never followed through on, and she believed Hank when he promised yet again that this was the last time, that he was truly quitting, that he was going to be sober from now on.

The addiction roller coaster had been hard on both of them. Renée felt unloved and hopeless and Hank felt like a loser. Why did he keep hurting this woman who loved him. Why was he destroying his own life? Renée felt like she was walking on eggshells. She wanted to be hopeful and supportive but she had heard these promises so many times before. Now Hank was accusing her of being anxious and controlling. Renée felt like she had to choose between expressing how she felt or suppressing her feelings.

For both the Addict and the Loved One, part of the journey of recovery and healing is to work on self-esteem.

As an Addict it’s important to understand that:

  • You are not a bad  or a loser  because you have become to rely on a substance or a behaviour to help you cope with emotional stress or overwhelm in your life
  • You are still loveable even if you have lied and/ or betrayed others because you were driven by your addiction
  • Even though you may feel shame and regrets, you still deserve to be loved and to walk in the world holding your head high

As a Loved One it is important to understand that:

  • You are not the cause, nor will you ever be “the cure” for an Addiction
  • You are not bad and you haven’t done anything wrong
  • You are not too much and your feelings of anxiety, discouragement or frustration are all legitimate – feelings are not rational and you are allowed to feel your feelings
  • Your loved one’s relapses are not about you and have nothing to do with you not being lovable
  • Saying No and setting boundaries, practicing self-care and not colluding does not make you selfish nor are you ruining your loved one’s life

Moving forward for both of you it is important to remember:Repair trust and self-esteem with Burnaby couples counselling

You deserve to love yourself because you are doing the best you can. If you are on the road of recovery (from your Addiction or your co-dependent behavior) you are making healthier choices. You are learning to cope with your life differently. No, you can’t turn back the clock and undo pain you may have caused. But moving forward you can make amends to the people you may  have hurt. You can practice accountability to yourself and your sobriety and to those you love by showing up every day from a place of intention and willingness.

Continuing an old behaviour is a choice. You can make more loving choices. You can reach out and call your sponsor, therapist, support person, crisis line, priest etc.  before you choose to use. You can practice mindfulness and a continuous inventory of self so you can prevent relapse.

You can practice forgiveness. As you lovingly forgive yourself for having abandoned yourself and those you love you learn to move on. The past is already over. You cannot change it. But you can look for the good in your life and in this moment. You can love yourself just the way you are from a place of humbleness and compassion.

You can learn to become your own best friend and lover. Treat and speak to yourself the way you would to someone who is infinitely precious to yourself.

Stress and anxiety counselling Burnaby for women and couples

Do you spend a lot of time worrying about things that are out of your control? Do you agonize over doing it just right so you can avoid conflict of disappointing others?

 Perhaps you experience “crises” similar to the following examples:

  1. Your adult daughter calls you frantically from work. This is her first day at the new job and she was supposed to bring various signed documents with her. She has forgotten them and is freaking out. You go into crisis mode with her and drive all the way across town to get the documents for her so she won’t make a bad impression on her first day (especially since she has 3 months probation).
  1. While you were visiting with your friend, during a brief moment of disattention, your child has wandered off into the bathroom and flooded the toilet. There is water everywhere and you feel mortified. Your friends recently renovated this room and now there will be water damage.
  1. You’re divorced co-parent is not on the same page as you are when it comes to nutrition and feeds your child fast food, processed food items and sugary things. At his house your child seems to eat in front of the TV and go to bed whenever. In the meantime you are doing your best to cook only healthy food and limit TV.

Positive psychology approach for stress and anxiety relief with psychotherapist BurnabyWhat do all these situations  – and  most likely others that send you into crisis mode have in common? The crisis is created by the assumptions that you’re making and the story that you create in your head. In the specific moment that things are happening there is no crisis. But your codependency habit turns it into one.

Let’s take the first example. Nothing bad has happened yet. Your daughter may make a poor impression – she may not. It may affect whether she gets to keep the job, or it may make no difference at all. The crisis occurs when you start to create  a story  with a negative outcome in your mind.

Let’s take the second example. Your child didn’t drown. Nobody got hurt. You go into crisis mode, worrying about your friendship and potentially the criticism you will receive from your spouse about not paying attention to your child.

Perhaps you worry that someone is going to be angry with you or criticize you. You might worry about money. But these are all assumptions and again stories about possible future outcomes. From a birds eye view – there is no real crisis. 

Let’s take the last example. Yes it is irritating that your co-parent is not on the same page.  But right now your child is not in a health crises, nor is it becoming obese or needing corrective vision glasses from too much television. You’re going into crisis mode when you imagine all kinds of negative consequences in the future.

Being in crisis mode can become addictive. You get used to running on adrenaline. Underneath all the fretting and chaos lives co-dependency. Many of the stories you create in your head are based on the assumption that you have control over other people’s behaviours or thoughts. But that is an illusion. Even if  someone were to hold a gun to your head and told you to  feel scared they wouldn’t be able to make you feel or think anything but what you chose to feel or think.

Somatic Psychotherapist Burnaby can help you overcome trauma and anxiety

In other words – you can choose to create stressful stories in your head and feel anxious and stressed or you can try to come back to the present moment and realize that what is happening is not a crisis but your co-dependency habits.

Viktor Frankl, holocaust survivor, well respected author and psychotherapist said: “At any given moment we are able to exercise  the most important freedom of all – the freedom to determine our own attitude and spiritual well-being.”

Responding from a co-dependent place is not a habit you have to continue. You can choose to learn ways to soothe your anxiety thru meditation, breathing practices, self-help books or with the help of a trained professional offering psychotherapy or counselling for anxiety and stress relief such as myself.

Do you worry about your loved ones  being disappointed, or feeling bad in some shape or form?

Do try to save your children from feeling/experiencing pain and disappointment in life?

Burnaby Relationship Therapy for recovery from codependency addictionDo you work hard to manage your loved one’s feelings so he or she doesn’t 

  • get sick,
  • relapse,
  • become depressed again,
  • get triggered into some other painful place?
  • Are you the super attentive and kind friend always willing to come to the rescue?

Are you the friendly neighbor who goes out of their way to be helpful?

If you are nodding your head and saying “Yes, I am.  Yes I do all these things and more.”, it sounds like you value being a “good” human being and like to contribute to the well being of others.

Just between you and I, at the end of the day, do you sometimes feel a little disappointed? Do you feel like you put a lot of effort into making other people feel good but somehow they don’t seem to return the favor in equal measure?

Do you sometimes feel a little hurt because all your efforts and the energy that goes into worrying and making sure that others are okay goes almost unnoticed?

Do you sometimes feel a little un-  or under-appreciated?

Have you ever promised yourself that you’re going to stop being so nice? That you’re going to put yourself first? But then, when you try to make these changes in your life, and you actually do try to put yourself first you get stuck?

If you feel anxious or unsettled when  people around you are unhappy or frustrated then changing your behavior may be easier said than done.

In fact you may feel like you’re caught between a rock and a hard place because when you see people you love experience disappointment or pain, it’s almost as if their pain is your pain.

Often individuals who worry a lot about how others feel, also prefer to avoid conflict if at all possible. Of course the potential Codependency counselling and addiction recovery with Burnaby couples counsellingof conflict increases as “happiness” around you decreases.

In order for you to get to a place of more ease inside yourself and still maintain your values of being a caring person you need to unlearn or shift an erroneous belief that you most likely learned when you were growing up.

You need to let go of the idea that you have control over or power over other people’s lives. You also need to let go of the idea that you are responsible for other people’s lives. (Of course you are responsible for any minors in your care.)

When couples or individuals seek my services as a psychotherapist who specializes in working with addiction recovery and helps loved ones of addicts move into recovery from co-dependency, I sometimes offer this mantra:

“I don’t have the power over, control of, or responsibility for other people’s lives. I was taught that I had these powers. This is a lie I now tell myself.”

Repeating this mantra regularly can help you to stay connected to what it is that you really want –  especially when you are feeling anxious and worrying about what is going to happen if you don’t step in to fix things and make sure everyone is happy,.

It will also help you identify whether your actions are truly coming from a place of loving and caring or whether they are informed by your need to manage your anxiety.

anxiety relief with psychotherapy  North Vancouver for co dependent behaviourSometimes it’s hard to differentiate whether you caught in your codependent place or acting from a place of love and caring. From the outside your behavior looks the same. If you’re confused, get out of your head and into your body.

The best barometer for identifying this difference is your body. An act of loving and caring will make your body feel open and relaxed. If that same behavior is however about managing your need for approval or trying to avoid conflict, your body will feel somewhat contracted or tense.

Remember that a lot of the worst-case scenarios that you’re trying to prevent are completely out of your control. You have no control over how your loved ones will respond to,  interpret, feel or think about something.

Are Premarital-counseling combined with addiction relapse prevention can ease wedding stressyou worried your wedding plans might lead to an addiction relapse?

As a couple’s therapist and addiction counsellor who specializes and is passionate about premarital counseling, it is my job to help couples make wise choices in their wedding planning if one partner is also in recovery.

The lasting ripple effect of Addiction can sometimes come as a surprise, especially when the individual is sober and in recovery. Wedding activities have the potential to trigger a relapse. This concern can add extra and unnecessary stress for both of you.

Here is an example of an unfortunate scenario:

The Stag without compromise – Peter has a relapse a week before the wedding:

Peter had been clean and sober from cocaine use off and on over the last 3 years. He had relapsed a number of times for various reasons. Jessica has felt betrayed by his lying and attempted cover ups. Lack of trust has been an ongoing issue for them during the 5 year relationship.

Last year they decided that they were going to go ahead with wedding plans. Peter reiterated his sincere dedication to recovery. He didn’t want to risk losing Jessica ecc. Both the couple’s family and friends were  aware of Peter’s struggles. Peter tends to be very concerned about how he is perceived in the world and had decided that he wanted to have a “typical” stag.

Jessica started to worry.  Peter reassured her that he would be fine. He intended to  only have 2 drinks and would definitely  not do cocaine.

He felt  solid in his recovery. So solid in fact, that he wasn’t  willing to set some guidelines, such as asking his friends not to bring any drugs to the stag. He promised that he would take a cab home at 2 am.

He was reluctant to make adjustments to the activities planned for the stag because he wanted his friends to have a good time. He didn’t want anyone to recall his stag as a boring event.

Peter ended up having a number of drinks. And as had been his pattern, by drink 3 the idea of doing a line or two had become very appealing. He came home at 6 am drunk and high. Jessica was devastated and wanted to call off the wedding. Peter was devastated as well and didn’t know what amends he could make after having broken yet another promise.

North Vancouver Addiction counselling can help you stop the addiction cycleIf you have been struggling with addiction while in relationship,  you know that recovery affects both the addict and the individual(s) who love you. Often the loved one has witnessed failed attempts of sobriety. We know that addiction recovery is not about willpower, even though it may often feel that way… to both the addict and the loved one.

If you’re an addict and experience relapse you most likely also experience shame and feelings of powerlessness or hopelessness. As a loved one, you too experience a loss of hope. Plus you may find yourself waging a battle between feelings of  bitter disappointment and a desire to be compassionate of the addict’s struggles.

This dynamic leaves scars in relationships and couples do well to seek the help of a marriage or relationship counsellor who also has experience with addiction counselling.

Addiction recovery involves coming to terms with loss. There are a number of losses. The loss of doing what you may have done previously as an addict. The loss of carefreeness for the loved one who remains vigilant until slowly trust has been reestablished.

Addiction recovery can impact the spontaneous sharing of your life with others.

While addiction in our Western Society is not necessarily considered a “taboo” subject, addicts are still mindful of who they are sharing this part of their personal life with. Admitting to or “owning” a drug or alcohol addiction can still have tangible social or professional repercussions.

Addiction recovery with Addiction and relationship therapy BurnabyWhile as a couple that is getting married you may be well aware of the perils of recovery, you may not have chosen to share these concerns or even the fact that there is a struggle with addiction with your respective families, friends ecc.

Planning  a wedding that follows all the “traditional” aspects of what that will look like, wanting to act like a “regular” couple, is a legitimate desire for both of you. But you have an extra consideration to plan for. Continued secure recovery for the addict and ease and peace of mind for the loved one.

Anyone who has ever had any experience with addiction is familiar with thoughts similar to the following:

  • I am in control now, I can have just one drink and stop
  • Things are different now. I am solid in my sobriety and can say no to drugs even if others around me are using
  • I can’t even imagine doing what I used to do again. The thought of drinking (smoking, snorting ….fill in the blank) actually makes me nauseous and totally turns me off
  • And anyone who has ever loved an addict and has experienced them relapse will not believe or have a very difficult time believing any of the above. This often ensues in conflict. The addict feels hurt, the loved one feels frustrated.

How you handle this conflict together and what compromises are made within the context of wedding planning can have a significant impact on peace of mind for both of you. 

As you are negotiating a solution that honours both of your needs, you may want to consider these questions:

  • What is more important – that friends will rave about your “cool” stag or that you both navigate this part of the wedding preparation peacefully and without conflict?
  • Are you willing to make compromises and come to terms with the loss of “not being able to do what others do” or do you feel “entitled” to a “real” stag?
  • Are you willing to risk your sobriety for an evening of fun and games?
  • Are you willing to put your partner thru considerable anxiety for the sake of a party?
  • Are you ready and willing to be gracious rather than lapse into grief and passive aggressive victim behavior “because you can’t have a party like everyone else”?
  • Are you willing to set clear boundaries with your friends about what is acceptable at your party? (this does not have to entail full disclosure of your addiction)

5 Tips / ideas for a stag(ette) without relapse:

  1. Discuss together what are the “have to haves” for you at your stag(ette) and what are the “nice to haves”. Remember to North Vancouver premarital counselling help you define your valueslook at the big picture in your planning. Discuss your values. What would you like your stag to symbolize for you – rather than what society has turned it into being the symbol of.
  2. Think outside the box – create a daytime event that involves sports (like golfing or rock climbing). Finish off with a dinner in a public setting rather than a private room that will encourage people to drink (and potentially offer you a “hiding place”)
  3. Let friends know that instead of spending money on liquor you would like to use this occasion as a fundraiser for a cause near and dear to your heart.
  4. Plan a Jack and Jill stag. Shift the focus from drinking to engaging activities and games. Be a support for each other during the evening.
  5. Let friends know that one of your values for your life together is being healthy together and one day raise a healthy family. Share that you are using the stag as a symbolic beginning of such a life together.

I wish you exciting and serene wedding preparations and welcome your comments or feedback 🙂

(As always names and identifying characteristics have been changed to honour client confidentiality)

Do you feel less inhibited or does it seem like you can “let yourself go more” sexually after you’ve had a drink or two or three? As a marriage counsellor and relationship therapist I often hear couples share that over time their sex life has lost some of its initial “sparkle.”

Recently one couple, let’s call them Mary and Tom,  shared that they had gotten into the habit of drinking or toking before being intimate. Conflict arose because Mary didn’t always feel like having a drink before sex and this was now affecting their physical intimacy.

How does alcohol affect your sex life? On the surface, alcohol may give you the illusion to promote “great sex” because it can make you feel romantic and more inclined to be sexual. For some men, it can “prevent” mild cases of  premature ejaculation or a tendency to come too soon. For some women it can promote sexual arousal or desire.

Have you have ever experienced difficulty in staying present with your partner  during sex (i.e. while you’re intimate your mind wanders and you suddenly think about work, or something on your to do list)?

Perhaps you can relate to the struggle to relax and relinquish control because you worry about being parts of your body being unattractive?

This was the case for Tom and Mary. Tom often felt overwhelmed by Mary’s need to have eye contact during sex and desire to talk after sex. Mary could get caught up in thinking her belly was too fat and trying to avoid Tom touch her in certain areas she thought were less attractive.

After a couple of drinks these feelings subsided for both of them. This makes sense because alcohol and marijuana are both depressants. The can temporarily alleviate anxiety.

Alcohol does not however contribute to building a deeper intimate connection. You also face the risk of developing a habit of needing “chemical” support to handle your emotions, which can of course lead to addiction.

Sexual bliss is directly impacted by your ability to

  • Manage your anxiety
  • Learn to be present in your body
  • Build and maintain charge
  • Create emotional safety and trust in your relationship

Introspection is the place to start if you’d like to deepen your intimate connection, if you long to have sexual experiences with your partner that verge on the spiritual or if you’d like to be more at ease in your body.

Once you’ve identified whether you need help with boundaries, self-esteem building or anxiety management, you can choose a number of ways ranging from self-help books to counselling support to create positive change in your life.

If you have identified that your relationship is lacking in emotional safety, you and your partner will want to sit down and discuss what you need from each other in order to repair or rebuild trust.

Often this will mean that you both learn how to communicate differently with each other. Sometimes it means one of you needing to learn anger management.

There are numerous resources available from books to courses in non-violent communication or working with a love and intimacy counsellor like myself who can help you with the process of hearing and seeing each other and accepting each other’s differences without sacrificing your own needs and desires.

We live in financially unstable times. If you have invested in the stock market you probably feel somewhat powerless regarding the outcome of your investments. You can only hope that, as usual, with time things will stabilize again. Your losses will recuperate and become profits.

When you struggle with depression, anxiety or addiction you might want to consider taking a look at the distribution of your funds on the emotional stock market.

How are your investments faring? I once attended a lecture by Carolyn Myss where she shared a metaphor about emotional currency. Her comparison resonated with me and I use it regularly in my work counselling North Vancouver and Burnaby.

Imagine that every day the Universe (i.e. Life, God) gifts you $100 of emotional currency.

How are you using that $100?

Very few of us actually use our “daily emotional currency” which is comprised of our thoughts, our energy and our feelings to live and enjoy the gift of another day of life.
How about you?

Here is an example of what “diverse” emotional investments often look like:

You use $50 to finance the past. That means, you spend 50% of your mental and psychic time and energy thinking about the past.

You accomplish that by beating yourself up about a mistake you made or by being angry with someone else.

Rather than enjoying the present, you spend time grieving and longing for things that are over.

Now you take $40 to finance the future. This is done by worrying about all the What if’s. What if this goes wrong, what if that doesn’t happen, what if I lose my job, what if…

So now you have a mixed portfolio with $10 left to invest in the present moment.

The emotional stock market is similar to the financial one. If you want to go with absolute no risk then you invest in things that will not change. In return you will have very slow growth.

The past my friend is over and it will not change.

If you’re not well informed and have money to spare or perhaps you have a gambling nature, then you might dabble.
You try a bit of this and a bit of that. You invest in obscure companies that will probably not succeed. You buy stocks that have extreme fluctuations with very little predictability.

In return your growth is hit and miss.

You can hit the jackpot  but  more often you walk away with nothing.

You have no control over the future, no matter how much time you spend worrying about it.

When you spend your emotional currency in the past, you’re in a familiar place. Worrying or dreaming about the future can also become a familiar place. But these investments do not offer a return of joy and connection. Rather they fill your coffers with depression and anxiety.

If you want to make the most of your “daily $100”, then I encourage you to invest as much as possible in the present moment.
Be fully present when your child, spouse or friend talks to you rather than multitasking and thinking about the future. Be emotionally available to participate in your life with mindfulness.

You have no control over the past or the future. You do have control over the thoughts you think in the present moment.

Yes, not every moment in the present is filled with joy and happiness. But that is the cycle of life.
When you don’t give away your resources to the past or the future, you have a lot more strength for the NOW.

You can find the courage to trust that you will be ok, you will survive to manage the joy AND the pain.

Just like with finances, sometimes it is useful to turn to an expert who can help you balance out your portfolio. If you struggle with depression and anxiety, consider getting some support. There are many resources available ranging from self-help groups to counselling for depression and anxiety.

As usual, I would love to hear your feedback and comments to this post.

To your health,

Ina

Ina Stockhausen, Marriage Counsellor Vancouver BC

 

That would be a logical conclusion to come to if you happen to watch the latest Nabisco Cookie commercial for the “Chips Ahoy Chewy Gooey Cookies”  because… “they are crammed with joy.”

low serotonin levels can lead to sugar cravingsIn these times of stress many individuals struggle with increased depression and anxiety. As you may know, when you’re depressed, your serotonin levels are low. Low serotonin levels in turn trigger cravings for refined carbohydrates like cookies or chocolate.

When advertising helps instill the belief that a cookie is “crammed with joy” is it any wonder that the rate of emotional eating related weight gain is also on the rise?

Let’s not forget that children watch TV as well.
(The cookie commercial is geared towards children)  Between the age of 4 to 10, children develop  their ability to think. How many of us think to point out to a 6 year old that a cookie is actually not crammed with joy? To the average adult it is just advertising that we tune out. But somewhere in our brain and somewhere in the developing brain of our children this message gets logged.

So let me repeat my earlier question. Is it any wonder that emotional eating, Food Addiction and obesity are on the rise?

If we take another look at the connection between serotonin levels and cravings we also need to remember that low serotonin levels affect how you feel about yourself. Anyone who has ever felt depressed will recall that they weren’t exactly bursting with self-esteem at the time.

One of the most common grievances accompanying low self-esteem that clients share with me is their fear of weight gain and feeling too fat.

It is a dilemma. Sugar does raise serotonin levels momentarily, so it would appear that the Chips Ahoy Chewy Gooey cookies are indeed “crammed with joy”.

Personally I think I would like the ad better if it ended with one of those rapid monotonous voices we recognize from drug commercials which could say “Some side effects may apply. Eat with caution when depressed. The intense flavor may trigger binge eating, overeating or continuous grazing until the box is empty. After effects may include and are not restricted to weight gain, self-loathing, feelings of powerlessness”.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with Chewy Gooey cookies. As I always say to my clients:
There are no forbidden foods as long as you eat mindfully. So the next time you have a cookie, do enjoy and savor the smooth creamy fudge in the middle.

Then consciously take a breath, connect with your body and check in to see if you really want another cookie. Perhaps you do. If you find yourself eating  more than a whole handful, ask yourself what you are really hungry for in this moment.

animals can help with depressionIt may well be that you are looking for a little bit of joy. And that is ok. But remember that you can make a choice. You can eat more cookies, or take another breath, put down the cookies and take a moment to remember what else gives you joy. Maybe you like to hug your pet, kiss your child, play a game, do some gardening…

Now check in again with your body. What is truly going to meet your need for joy in this moment?

No matter what choice you end up making, be present with yourself and give yourself permission to truly savor the moment and your chosen activity.

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.

Do you have a vision, a passion, a desire to do something? Do you have a Dream?

What are you doing to make your dream become reality? 

If your answer is “nothing”, because

  • It’s just not possible right now
  • It’s just a silly dream, it’s not realistic
  • I can’t afford to have dreams, I have responsibilities
  • I don’t have the time
  • It’s never going to happen anyway…

 I urge you to reconsider. Not answering the call of a passion that lives inside you comes at a price. If you always have to push down something that wants to come out in your life you will pay for it with your health. 

Ignoring a dream or sitting with a permanent longing is painful. While your rational mind may have reasons and your inner critic may have comments, you are living in inner conflict.

You are torn between a “I would really love to do this” and “I can’t”. 

This kind of inner conflict takes away hope.
Hope can be a soothing balm for an aching soul.
While one part of you may be busy extinguishing your dreams, another part of you is grieving. 

If you are forced to always push down an energy that wants to emerge, you risk suffering from depression at some point.

Furthermore, this kind of inner conflict is painful. It’s only natural that you’ll try to make the pain go away. If you repeatedly try to make the pain of unmet needs in your life go away either using a mood altering substance such as Alcohol, drugs (prescription or otherwise) or a particular activity you might one day find yourself addicted to your method of coping. 

In the beginning that shopping trip to the mall makes you feel better, or the thrill of the gambling table distracts you. That drink allows you to mellow and that pill may help you forget for a while.
But when the effect wears off, you will be right back in your place of conflict between the pain of an unmet need – in this case the realization of your dream and the rational voice that tells you it’s not going to happen. 

I invite you to set aside some time and explore:

  • What parts of you are you trying to ignore?
  • What parts of you have been overly concerned with trying to please others at the cost of putting your own pleasures last? 

As you contemplate the idea of making some changes you might get stuck in a place of black and white thinking or being overwhelmed by your inner critic. 

Try this exercise called a cost and benefit analysis. Take a sheet of paper and draw a large “+” sign creating two columns and two rows.

In the top left quadrant make a list of the benefits of not following your dream or giving energy to what you are not expressing. (e.g. being responsible, being “a grown up” etc.)

In the bottom left quadrant, write about the costs of not following your dream (e.g. depression, sadness, irritability etc.)

In the top right quadrant write about the benefits of taking action and following your dream (e.g. excitement and passion in your life, new opportunities, etc.)

In the bottom right quadrant write about the costs of following your dream (e.g. anxiety, people judging you, etc.) 

Sometimes it’s useful to enlist the help of a trusted friend or partner in this exercise, someone who can help you find your blind spots and/ or encourage you to look at the possibilities.

 You always have choices. Even when it feels like you don’t have a choice, you are still making one. Often just the reframing and getting in touch with your current choice and the need that your current choice is meeting can shift the energy. Rather than being powerless you become empowered. 

Your own dreams deserve the same respect and loving attention that you give to everything and everyone else that you love.
Allow yourself the thrill of your own passion…and breathe and ground thru the feelings of anxiety that can arise with that excitement. Don’t focus on all the what if’s. Instead activate trust in yourself. Activate your confidence in the possibility. 

A great way to do this is by creating a vision board. Here is a link where John Assaraf explains how to create a vision board. http://tinyurl.com/yagc5y6  

Give yourself permission to go for it. Allow yourself to dream.

It is thanks to the visions of someone’s dream that today we have internet, can take trips to other parts of the world in a plane and get x-rays ….just to name a few.

Here’s to Happy Dreams…