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.


Change can sneak up on you. When I work with clients who are seeing me for life transition counselling, most of the time we identify the presence of precursors indicating that things had been changing already for quite a while.

Change can be a wonderful thing; a catalyst for positive shifts in your life. But whether planned, expected or not, most of us resist change because with it comes the “unknown.”
Oprah once said “When we feel the ground beneath us shifting, we panic. We forget everything we know and allow fear to freeze us. Just the thought of what could happen is enough to throw us off balance.”

Again, most of the time the ground doesn’t shift all at once.
What stops you from noticing and addressing “mini-shifts”?

In my experience there are three major “thought processes” that hinder you from embracing change: 

Denial: You don’t trust your inner voice. Example: You get a sense that your partner isn’t as affectionate as he/she used to be, your sex life seems to have lost its spark. Your gut is telling you something is off. But that thought feels scary. So instead you put it down to stress, and find different excuses that allow you to ignore what your inner voice is telling you.

Worrying about the feelings of others: You don’t want to upset or hurt someone else’s feelings. Example: Lately you haven’t enjoyed meeting with your friend because all she seems to talk about these days are her problems with her kids. You feel like you never get equal “air time” but you are hesitating to say anything because you don’t want to hurt her feelings. Plus you feel like you’re not a good friend if you do.

Being caught between the past and the future: All the “should’ve, could’ve, would’ves” compete with the “what ifs” in your thoughts. Example: Returning to the scenario of your sex life as a couple having lost its spark you reprimand yourself that you should have bought sexy lingerie more often and if you would have lost weight like you planned your partner would be more interested. At the same time you worry about “what if he/she likes someone else….what if this is the beginning of the end?”

 How can you be more attuned to change in your life and how can you deal with it productively?

  • Trust you inner voice
  • Connect with your boundaries… you are not responsible for the feelings of others
  • Stay in the present… present moment only moment.

The “emptying out” exercise can be a useful tool.

I recommend you do this in your journal, because being able to go back and read your thoughts helps you identify patterns and can support the process of trusting your inner voice.

At the end of the day, jot down any niggles, any processes that are still sitting with you or came up for you during the day. Identify what needs of yours where met and which ones weren’t. Notice what contributed to your needs not being met and how you can change that.

Remember that you have no control over the past or the future. Acknowledge your feelings of sadness or loss as well as your fear of the “what ifs”. Giving yourself permission to grieve or be afraid and then moving on is important and different than suppressing these feelings or getting bogged down in this place.

Breathe, connect to your boundary and to the present moment.

 If you allow yourself to stay present and grounded, then change will not sneak up on you and it can be a catalyst for something positive…such as a closer and more authentic connection with your partner or friends.

Beware of advice that is designed to distract you when you want to overeat. Some time ago a client came to me seeking help to get her spending under control. She was afraid that she was well on her way to becoming a shopaholic.

Originally she’d been seeking help for overeating and binge eating. Internet research had led her to a blog post where the author was suggesting that the next time one felt lonely, depressed, angry or sad, one shouldn’t take a trip to the refrigerator but a trip to the mall.

Skeptical at first but wanting to find a way to control her binge eating, my client gave the advice a try.

One day, just when she was about to devour the rest of a birthday cake in her fridge, she decided to get in the car instead and head over to Winners.

What a combination… the thrill of shopping while saving money!

It seemed to work…because when she left the mall she was in a great mood and the frustrations of the previous hours were momentarily forgotten.

The advice my client had found on the internet, suggested retail therapy to shift her mood combined with a “catch and release” technique.

Essentially, had my client followed the instructions “properly” she should have returned to the mall the next day with all her purchases and receipts in hand to get her money back.

Alas, here the plan failed. It seemed a shame to take some of the things back… besides, she was busy the next day. Thus time passed, until the next shopping spree. Shopping continued to leave her feeling thrilled and in a good mood until guilt started to set in.

While her fridge stayed full and her pants were becoming loose, her closet was swelling at an alarming rate…becoming a secret treasure cove filled with items never worn.

Her credit card bills were climbing sky high. Money that had been set aside for other important purposes had been spent.

The good feelings about herself were more and more ephemeral, being drowned out by the tireless voice in her head berating all her faults.

She realized, that she was feeling as poorly as she would feel after overeating. Shopping was definitely not filling her longing to feel good about herself nor her desire for connection. She had only succeeded in trading one unhealthy coping mechanism for another one, just as damaging.

Shopping addicts tend to shop when they feel depressed, lonely or angry. (If you’re wondering whether you’re suffering from Shopping Addiction, read more information here and feel free to contact me for a complimentary consultation).

If you’re trying to overcome binge eating, please realize that distracting yourself with some other compulsive activity is not the solution. Switching from bingeing to shopping did not help my client deal with her feelings of emotional pain.

Given her timely cognizance around this fact however did jump start something positive.

She reached a different level of awareness around her bingeing.

She was clearly able to identify when she was about to eat for other reasons than hunger.

This process of stopping – even if just for a moment – while resting in a place of mindfulness is the first step towards healing binge eating and overeating.

There is an exciting wave of mindfulness sweeping across North America. Ever since Geneen Roth has appeared on the Oprah Show and Oprah has endorsed the content of her new book “Women, Food and God” women and men have found motivation and courage to examine their relationship with food.

I am thrilled at how well Geneen’s Book “Women, Food and God” compliments my coaching course “Stop the Weight loss Boomerang – How to Stop Yo-yo Dieting and Emotional Eating”. Geneen uses a body-centered approach which is very similar to how I work and I am recommending her book to anyone with a desire to examine their emotional relationship with food.

So if you’re about to binge….rather than heading to the shopping mall… head to the bookstore 🙂