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Finding Freedom In Your Limitations

For those of you who are looking for this week’s episode of our featured series, Therapy Transcripts – Samuel (Week 6), I am sorry to disappoint you. It has been a busy week with therapy sessions and transcribing my last session with Samuel has taken more time than I expected. I promise to have it ready for you next Saturday (April 27th). If you want to get notified of when the episode gets published, click here to subscribe to our weekly newsletter. In the meantime, please read the following article about enjoying creativity and abundance within a life of limitations.

I have written a few articles in the past about the stress that comes with having too much choice, the most notable of these being The Paradox of Choice: Too Many Places To Live, Too Little Time. The article focused on the anxiety felt when being presented with too many places to live. Another example of The Paradox of Choice would be if you were presented with a lengthy menu at a restaurant. It would be quite easy to pick a dish out of a short list of maybe 3 to 5 dishes, but it would be much harder to pick a dish out of a long list of 10 to 20 dishes. With these numbers, the likelihood that you will regret your choice is higher when presented with a menu with more dishes. In this scenario, the responsibility for your meal has, in some ways, shifted from the chef and onto you. If you did not enjoy your meal, it is you who picked the wrong dish, not the chef who prepared it badly. This shift in responsibility is the source of your anxiety and is a fundamental element in most cases of depression. In today’s article however, I would like to focus on setting limits as a way of relieving yourself of responsibility. This relief will lower levels of anxiety, stress and depression. What’s more, you will find a freedom in your limitations that will bring you a lot of happiness.

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We will stick with food for our first example. Imagine putting yourself on a strict diet plan. Not for the purpose of weight loss but merely for the purpose of doing so. You tell yourself that you won’t eat dairy products, or carbohydrates or that you are strictly eating vegetarian or vegan meals from now on. Whatever your restriction, you will find ways to enhance your experience if you simply commit to the diet plan. If you choose to stop eating carbohydrates, but you are yearning for a piece of bread, you will find a recipe for low-carb bread. If you choose to eat vegetarian but you want a hamburger, you will find a way to replicate the taste using soy, tofu or mushrooms. The constraints that you apply to yourself will force you to think outside the box and be more creative with your choices. A simple way of doing this right now is to take everything that is in your refrigerator and make a meal out of it. Even if it’s the strangest combination of ingredients, your mind will find a way to make a good meal. The freedom comes from being creative and that creativity comes from the constraint that you put on yourself. If you weren’t a vegetarian, you would have no reason to make a hamburger out of soy, tofu or mushrooms right?

Another example, and one that is mainly applicable to Third Culture Kids, is where you choose to live. If you do not know what Third Culture Kids are, they are people who have grown up in a country different to the passport countries of their parents. Classic examples of Third Culture Kids would be army brats and children of diplomats, bankers and bureaucrats. Although my therapy sessions mainly deal with people suffering from depression or anxiety, I also treat people who are suffering from depression caused by displacement, such as Third Culture Kids and migrants. Although it is quite natural to be curious about how people live in far off places, or to want to escape your own life by moving somewhere else, the act of committing yourself to one place will allow you to look for what is beautiful there. If you tell yourself that you are going to live in this town and not move somewhere else, you may think about all the amazing things you will miss out on. You may bemoan not living in the hustle and bustle of New York or London, or the charming wilderness of some far off place in South East Asia, Africa or Australia. Whichever way you look at it, you will always want the thing that you don’t have. If you live in Tokyo, you want to live in Scandinavia. If you live in Scandinavia, you want to move to Tokyo. Telling yourself that you are committed to living where you are, will allow you to look for reasons to enjoy the place. Whilst it may not have what other places have, it may have something different and you may have to keep an open mind as to what that is. Again, the freedom here comes from the creative, out-of-the-box thinking that your mind is forced into by the limit that you set yourself. You may, for example, have been born-and-raised in a big city and for work reasons moved to the countryside. If you accept your situation and explore new activities, you may realise that you love fishing or camping etc, even though you’ve never done it before.

My final example is money. Placing a limit on what you spend will force you to think of creative ways to make the most out of the money that you have. Even if you have all the money in the world, planning a budget and sticking to it will give you a sense of freedom. Telling yourself that you can’t spend an unexpected amount of cash and finding a way to replicate the experience or object you intend to purchase in a more economical way is surprisingly liberating. If you look at the budget for the coming weekend and realize that you won’t be able to go to that fancy restaurant, then maybe you can plan a impromptu party at home instead. Again, the freedom here comes from the creativity experienced by living a limited lifestyle. Purposefully putting constraints on the way that you live, will allow you to think in a way that you never have before and that is what true freedom is.

Philip Andersson

Life Coach

Cross Culture Therapy


Stop Chasing Happiness, Let It Come To You.

Happiness can be a tease. The more we chase it, the further away it seems. It all starts with a New Years Resolution to lose weight or to find the perfect person and so, we begin our chase hoping that happiness will find us by the end of the year…

Philip Andersson – Life Coach

Philip Andersson is a life-coach who is currently studying to become a psychotherapist. He treats people suffering from depression, phobias and anxiety. Having been raised in Hong Kong and having lived in England and Japan as an adult, Philip also treats people who are overcome with feelings of displacement and rudderlessness associated with a global-nomad lifestyle such as Third Culture Kids, Cross Culture Kids, Migrants and Asylum Seekers.

What We Do!

Cross Culture Therapy offers 1-on-1 online therapy sessions to people suffering from depression, phobia, anxiety as well as to people who suffer from displacement issues associated with a globally nomadic lifestyle (i.e.Third Culture Kids – people who have grown up in a culture different to their parent’s passport culture – and Cross Culture Kids) Our sessions are conducted via Skype for a duration of 50-minutes and can be purchased in packs of 1-session, 3-sessions or 5-sessions. If you are interested in purchasing a session, click on the Book A Session tab on our menu or click here.

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