Connection or attachment is vital for our survival. In an effort to ensure being loved and accepted we may sacrifice our authentic selves and adopt certain roles. This often happens at an unconscious level but gets stored in our intrinsic memories, influencing our actions and reactions throughout our lifetime. Gabor Mate, M.D. gives an excellent personal example of early childhood influences in this interview.
When explaining “Transactional Analysis”, developed by Eric Berne, I discuss some of the roles children adopt such as the (“class clown, the quiet one, the trouble maker etc.”). What starts out as a protective strategy can continue into youth and adult relationships as well as in the work place with negative consequences. Children fearing rejection may dumb down to protect their peers from feeling inferior. They can miss opportunities to showcase their talents or even become ashamed of their intellect. Time and again I’ve seen clients who in striving for perfection, often as a result of unrealistic expectations, end up suffering from depression as they never reach this impossible ideal. Many people pleasers find themselves in counselling dealing with a growing resentment towards loved ones or friends or even burn out. Often they have not been able to express their needs or voice their concerns for fear of rocking the boat or feeling responsible for the well being of others.
Dr. Mate, who I feel blessed to have heard speak a few years ago, makes this important connection between stress and disease. In his book “When the Body Says No”, he talks about how not honouring our authentic self can lead to a series of physiological stress responses that often cause illness or pain. Do you struggle with saying no, putting the needs of others before your own, over identifying with your duty/role or responsibility more than your true self and suppress or regress healthy anger and assertion? If so, you may fit into what Dr. Mate, identifies as: the “Stress Prone Personality” putting you at greater risk for physical and emotional problems.
April 7th was World Health Day. As you can see, good emotional health is not a luxury. Stress can be fatal. Health and happiness rely on people identifying and recognizing their true worth. It requires awareness and assertion of one’s needs and boundaries. Learning to become an advocate for myself has been essential in keeping me sane as I balance work and family life. Not sure how to do this? Counselling can help you achieve the gift of authenticity and put you on the path to better health and happiness.
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