Gestalt Therapy – self-support

What can you provide for yourself? What do you need from the outside?

Self-support refers to the fact that, the environment is not there to support an individual life, just like no individual life is there to support the environment. When each one is aware of one’s needs and takes care of them, the environment becomes the space where needs and the capacities to provide for them can meet in a balanced and self-regulating way. When we cannot satisfy our needs ourselves, self-support means looking for what we need and also accepting that we may not find it. As with everything, this is a process, a movement. We can be closer or further away, simply being aware that tending towards self-support is to be oriented towards maturity, the manifestation of our potential and a sense of flow within the interconnected fabric of life.

When my needs come out into the world, they may come into conflict with the needs of others. It is self-evident that every living being has the responsibility to preserve itself. Acting in harmony with this fact implies allowing the other person to consider my need and, if it comes into conflict with their own, to choose freely which they want to prioritize. Manipulating the environment so that it satisfies my need, is a rebellion against the fact that other people’s needs are as important as my own. We are manipulating when:

  • we disguise need as generosity (“come so that you won’t be alone” instead of “come because I don’t feel like being alone”)
  • we conceal the situation (avoiding information that may get in the way of what we want).
  • we present our needs as standards (“this is normal, that’s how things are done”)
  • we use emotional blackmail (if the other person doesn’t do what I want, I project on them a negative image).
  • we seduce (I project on the other person a positive image so that they will do what I want).

Being the victim of these manipulations is also the result of a lack of self-support. When we don’t take care of our needs, it’s good to have someone else take car of them and we don’t ask for the information we need in order to act freely and with responsibility towards ourselves. Also, self-esteem and self-respect are needs that can be easily delegated on the environment, but it is really up to one to cultivate them within oneself. Otherwise, when our self-image depends on others, we tend to comply blindly with standard behaviour in order to feel accepted and to respond to emotional blackmail and seduction.

In the absence of self-support, relationships become transactional and all giving expects a receiving, and this can easily bring about feelings of debt and demands. It’s also possible that those involved are satisfied with this type of relationship. However, this type of relationships stands between the person and their realization and maturity.

Self-support and therapy

Getting help when there’s something that one can’t sort out oneself already implies that one is taking responsibility for one’s needs. A Gestalt therapist will offer accompaniment so that the client can discover the awareness and resources that constitute self-support, not taking over from the client or encouraging dependance, but rather allowing the therapeutic process to be guided by the client’s needs. The Gestalt process is fulfilled, when the client no longer needs the accompaniment of the therapist and can trust the aware self-regulation process taking place in their need cycles. Life within us generates needs, either biological, emotional, intellectual or spiritual, and the energy to try to satisfy them. To be aware of both is to feel the pulse of life within us and to experience ourselves as individual expressions of the movement of a Life greater than us.

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