My main approach to working with you will be relational- meaning, our relationship will be a part of the process, informed by psychodynamic thinking and system theories. At the same time, I synthesise Eastern and Western philosophies and spiritual systems such as Buddhism and the Enneagram, as well as well-founded psychology tools like Schema. I also employ creative and intuitive methods such as Art and Poetry, Jungian Coaching Dream Analysis, and Shadow Work.
I may give you creative homework and reflective exercises designed to help you consolidate the insights and progress we make within the sessions. For example, I may ask you to bring in photographs, doodles or some form of diary entries. Nothing is mandatory, however. It all depends on what you are comfortable with. For more information on some of these activities, please see the Online Portal.
On top of ‘fire-fighting’ imminent issues, the aim of this work is to make changes to the deep-seated life patterns that cause similar problems to come up again and again in your life. This process can create lasting change because it looks below the surface and addresses core psychological and emotional roots.
Our focus is on helping you move towards living a full life. Alongside discussions about your psychodynamics, we will also talk pragmatically about your day-to-day habits and performance, career path, life goals, and relationship fulfillment.
Our work does not focus on dysfunction, diagnosis, or past symptoms. It is about helping you move towards a future of deep fulfillment, authenticity, and creativity.
You are in the driver’s seat. Sharing ideas and knowledge with you is a core part of our journey. Ultimately, you will be equipped with the necessary skills and capacity that will allow you to take charge. (Because this is online coaching, if you are struggling with severe mental illnesses, are suicidal, or require significant psychiatric input, please make sure you have support in place and know that this could not replace your major mental health care. )
Although the process is often organic and non-linear, categorizing the change process into the following phases might help clarify what actually happens in the work.
PHASE 1: GETTING TO KNOW YOUR BLOCKAGES
To start, we will try to understand what it is that troubles you and stops you from being your best self. We will work towards identifying some of your old survival strategies, behaviors, or thinking patterns that no longer serve you. For example, in your subconscious, there might be mind-imagery, specific memories, and deep feelings around certain beliefs: ‘People will always betray me in the end’, ‘I can never trust anyone’, ‘I do not fit in anywhere’. In your attempts to lessen your pain, you might have developed destructive habits or self-sabotaging patterns.
If you have been through therapy or counseling before you may have come across references to them as ‘Defences’, ‘Negative Automatic Thoughts’, ‘Life Traps’, ‘Maladaptive Schema’, ‘Inner Critic’, ‘Negative self-talk’ etc. To keep things simple, I call them ‘Blockages’. And since they take a wide variety of forms based on who you are and your personal history, I will work with you to design and prioritize your goals.
During this phase, we shall work together to better understand the parts of you that you do not like or want, and you will begin to feel your inner tension and conflict softening. For example, I might start by asking you to make more concrete this inner destructive force: If your inner critic were a person, what would they be like (man/woman, what would they sound like, look like, etc)? Does your inner criticism come in a particular shape, size, form, or color? What bodily sensations do you get when feeling shame? Could you draw it on a piece of paper?
Theories that are relevant at this phase:
PHASE 2: BOUNCING BACK AND INTEGRATING
Once we have identified your blockages, we will learn how to manage and, in some cases, transform these challenging parts of you. We aim to lessen the times when you feel overwhelmed, so you do not have to resort to avoidance or compensatory behaviors (overeating, overspending, and other destructive habits). We want to integrate the more vulnerable, ‘younger’ parts of yourself, rather than rejecting them, and at the same time mind the undisciplined, rageful, and destructive part of yourself, and tame or transform your inner critic.
Lasting change requires not only an intellectual understanding but also a relational experience. We will try to access some of your core wounds through experiential processes such as visual imagery or homework assignments. This step is potentially life-changing, but can also be the most challenging. I will do my best to make sure that you have full control over the process and are free to go at a pace that feels safe for you.
Theories and techniques that are relevant to this phase:
PHASE 3: BUILDING YOUR INTERNAL CAPACITY FOR LASTING CHANGES
Our biggest goal is to build a solid sense of self for lasting resilience in all aspects of your life. Through a mixture of psychoeducation and relational experience, we may look at how you can gain inner strength, and take care of yourself — Practically, Emotionally, Interpersonally, and Spiritually. By fully internalizing and integrating these new capacities, we hope that you will be able to manage your emotions, behaviors and relationships over the long run, even after finishing a course of coaching.
– Practical: Managing the balance between burn-out and bore-out; Learning to self-soothe; Lifestyle support; Life structuring; Learning to say no; Navigating work politics; Strategies on building your own creative career.
– Emotional: Befriending different emotions; Riding emotional storms and Managing destructive behaviors
– Interpersonal: Living authentically; Honouring your values; Communicating your needs assertively; Having your deep desires heard, seen and received as your true self
– Spiritual: Learning to trust life; Tapping into your creative resource; Finding your place in the world
Tools that are particularly helpful for growth at this phase:
PHASE 4: MOVING TOWARDS YOUR FULL POTENTIAL
I hope that you can find a place in the world where you are not just tolerated, but celebrated. Remember, you are highly, but not overly, intense and sensitive. By this phase, I should know you well enough to work with you to find your strengths based on your personality and unique personal story. We can work towards maximizing your potential by getting in touch with your gifts.
I deeply honor your deep yearning to be seen and heard as who you are, and by finding the right stage for your audience, the right channel for your gifts. We do this by tapping into the seed of your creativity and channeling your existential angst into a sense of mission and purpose.
As you step into embracing your unique qualities, I hope you can learn to trust your unique ways of relating to the world and be able to connect to what you have to offer. Themes such as authentic existence, the meaning of life, and the purpose of being come to the foreground of awareness, as you embark on the journey towards self-actualization. Furthermore, I want you to build a life around your values so you do not struggle with inner conflicts that pain your soul. The work in this aspect may also include practical ways to increase productivity and optimize your health, in order to facilitate your creativity. This may involve learning from artists and others who have achieved success in life.
Ideas and tools that are helpful in this phase:
Jungian Symbology, Dream Analysis, Depth Psychology, Bibliotherapy, personality inventories such as the Enneagram, MBTI, performance coaching that facilitates lifestyle and habit changes, creativity tools such as the morning pages.
IN A NUTSHELL
To recap, our goals include, but are not restricted to the following:
1. Knowing your personal history and patterns well enough that when you fall back to old survival strategies or mind traps, you can wake up in reactivity and not let it run the show.
2. Knowing your emotions well enough that when they come up you can recognize, name, and know what to do with them.
3. Being able to stay connected with others whilst being true to yourself.
4. Being empathic with others without losing your personal boundaries.
5. Knowing your unique strengths and gifts in order to live a fuller life.
We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us
– Joseph Campbell
THE ROADMAP FROM HEALING TO THRIVING
People who identify with being emotionally intense and sensitive tend to experience their day-to-day life more vividly and deeply.
As an intense person, you face a set of unique challenges. New research in the field of neuroscience has recognized the differences in the way intense people perceive and process information. They tend to react more strongly to physical and emotional pain in themselves and others, and can easily become stressed or fatigued due to sensory and emotional overload. Apart from your struggle with regulating feelings, you might have also been misunderstood and stigmatized for years. However, you can come to learn about and accept your unique qualities.
The following Roadmap illustrates some of the potential milestones or markers you will hit on the journey from healing to thriving. They serve as a guideline to our coaching process. These are not steps to be achieved in a linear sequence – after all, the process is cyclical, back-and-forth, and completely unique to you.
1. ADDRESSING THE OLD WOUNDS
- Heal the wounds of being told that you were ‘too much’, ‘too dramatic’, ‘too intense’, ‘too sensitive’, ‘too…’
- Acknowledge the unmet needs in your early years.
- Identify self-sabotaging behaviors (e.g. overeating/ ‘lashing out’) and beliefs that no longer serve you (e.g. ‘People will leave me when they see the real me’).
- Deal with overwhelming sadness, rage, and other reactivity triggered by those who are close to you.
- Healthily mourning the lack/ loss of the ‘what might have been’: Letting go of the resentment about not having the perfect childhood, the ideal parents…, and being at peace with your family as they are now.
- Identify if you have ever been ‘parentified’ – Were you put into the role of being a parent to your own parents, instrumentally or emotionally?
- Manage the voice of your inner critic and the internalized sense of shame.
- Be able to express and assert your needs and wants in the world.
2. BECOMING EMOTIONALLY RESILIENT
- Locate or develop a sense of safety within yourself.
- Understand the values and functions of intense emotions, and honor them.
- Dance with impermanence in life: Knowing that pain is inevitable in life and that it is human to be thrown off course sometimes. When that happens, rest in the faith that you will be able to bounce back.
- Have an expanded ‘window of tolerance’ for feelings, so you are not triggered into states of hyper-arousal (acute stress, rage, tension, and panic) or under-arousal (dissociating, disconnecting, feeling empty and depressed).
- Come to terms with the unavoidable ‘givens’ of human existence; That things are constantly changing, life is not always fair, losses and death are part of life, and we cannot control everything.
3. FINDING AUTHENTICITY AND A SENSE OF POWER IN THE WORLD
- Explore your values and beliefs, and craft out what living in alignment looks like for you.
- Reconnect with your sense of power, heal from the Imposter Syndrome or the fear of success.
- Let go of who you think you should be and embrace who you are.
- Optimize your creativity and work performance.
- Being ‘skillfully authentic’ in groups and relationships: Allowing your real self to be seen and accepted, without pre-maturely exposing yourself when it is not safe/ appropriate to do so.
- Find and go where you are celebrated, not just tolerated.
- Understand and recognize human dynamics such as toxic envy and passive aggression.
- Become aware of and finding ways to preserve your personal, emotional, and energetic boundaries.
4. BRINGING PASSION AND VITALITY BACK INTO YOUR HEART
- Address the chronic disconnection, numbness, and emptiness you feel.
- Allow yourself to be emotionally moved and impacted, rather than being cut off and disconnected.
- Have the courage to feel, to love, without getting caught up in emotional storms or excessive fear of loss.
- Come to experience relationships as enriching rather than tiring or threatening.
- Be aware of compromised and dysfunctional relationship patterns.
- Trust the natural expression of your ‘unedited self’, preserving your natural playfulness and spontaneity.
5. ACTUALIZING YOUR CREATIVE POTENTIAL
- Express yourself creatively in a chosen vocation that is aligned with your values, beliefs, and talents.
- Transform your existential angst into a sense of mission and purpose.
- Find your diverse and multiple callings, without feeling like you have to ‘focus’ or restrict yourself.
- Relinquish the need to have life pan out exactly the way you wish it to be, and tune into your intuitive wisdom.
- Alleviate the endless sense of urgency and restlessness, trust that your life is unfolding in the perfect order.
- Have a sense of trust in something bigger than yourself. Develop a spiritual understanding that the work is being done not ‘by you’, but ‘through you’, and have fun enjoy the ride.
There is no need to feel deflated if some of these themes seem unreachable to you right now. Emotional healing and spiritual maturity are lifelong paths that each of us can achieve through commitment and continuous practices. People’s lives change as they progress in their own stages of self-realization.
I know but one freedom, and that is the freedom of the mind.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery