Many years ago and much earlier in my career I was Manager of the Employee Assistance Program for the Province of Manitoba. Back in those early days I was confronted with a dilemma in assessing the nature of some presenting problems, which in the end was to change my approach and interest in the way I understood stress and the way in which I was to help support persons who were experiencing the symptoms of stress.
Besides the easily recognizable problems that people brought to our program, I began to see disturbing numbers of people who presented with stress symptoms (i.e. headaches, anxiety, depression) but were hard pressed and as it turned out so was I to easily identify what it was that was causing the symptoms.
When I delved into their lives with them, I heard things like; I have a good job, get along with my boss, a family who loves me, everyone is healthy. There was nothing that screamed out at me about what was the root cause of their symptoms. They were perplexed, I was perplexed!
In looking back, although I referred them on, I somehow felt that there was more that I could have done but what??
These repeated experiences led me to doing more in-depth research into the subtly of stress and what I discovered was "congruence" or rather a lack of it and something called "need tension." When the cause of a stress symptom jumps up and hits you in the face (i.e. loss of a loved one) you know what you are dealing with and can act to address it accordingly. But what if it relates to not living your life according to what it is you value and/or not being able to meet your perceived needs at any particular point in time? What then?
Just what is it that you value and if you do not know, how do you go about finding out? And what about your needs, are they different than wants or are they the same? Do they change over time or are they the same no matter what?
How do you know whether or not your life is being lived in a congruent way with what you value or that you are actively seeking to meet or are meeting your perceived needs? If there are symptoms of stress creeping into your life and you feel a "dis-ease" with yourself, can you flag the reason(s) for it?
If you cannot, than perhaps you need to find out what anchors you, what is it that you live for, believe in, would even die for, your values and than determine why you get up each day and go out into the world and do what you do? If you are successful you may be surprised at what you find. And more surprising at what you do with your new found awareness!
Your personal coach has learned some valuable lessons about congruence with values and need tension and can share them with you. "Tell me, is it something that you think or feel you might need and see of value in your life?"