Introduced by a friend, I watched the movie: Eat, Pray, Love and come up with a thought from a counsellor’s perspective: there is an alternative way of doing Eat, Pray, Love, which represents healing, soul discovery and finding balance.
Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir, was on the New York Time best selling list for 199 weeks. Liz, the main character in the movie, is a modern American woman who had what a modern woman wants: husband, country home, and successful career. However, instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. After her divorce, she embarks on a journey to Italy, India, and Indonesia to explore three different aspects of her nature: pleasure, devotion and a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.
It is glamorous to go around the world and to find the answers. Yet, from a therapist’s perspective, I would like to share with Liz that there is an alternative way of doing this healing. I would suggest a person who is in the same situation could also do some therapy work.
First, Liz could check out her attachment style. It seems Liz has an ambivalent attachment to people who are close to her, such as her husband or friends. Although she has the desire for close relationships, in the movie there were three encounters where when the other person becomes available, Liz becomes unavailable. Since the ambivalent type has a tendency of “ keep wanting”, there is an underlying tendency of being unaccustomed to receiving intimate love in order to evolving in mature relationship.
Second, Liz could try out John Gottemen’s ‘ love maps’ : a tool for addressing the 10 emotional needs of couples. By acknowledging their individual and joint emotional needs, it is possible for a couple to have a better understanding of what needs to be attended to in order to redress the failings of their marriage, and to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
Third, Liz can also do Bowen’s family system assessment, to learn about the structure and relationship within her family background. Since a person does not come from nowhere, her emotional pattern is shaped by who she was and her familial relationships.
Fourth, I would suggest Liz try out Satire’s Iceberg model. It is a quick 7 steps method that will help Liz to uncover what lies in her unconscious and her emotional blocks, by exploring her feelings, feelings about feelings, expectations, yearnings, and defining the true self.
With the divorce rate ranking high at 49% for the last a few decades, more psychoeducation could be done in order to decrease the confusion we have about ourselves, our marriages and our lives. Every person, every couple could benefit from this knowledge and their accompanying exercises. It is by looking at our history, our relationships in our families, examining our dispositions, understanding our unconsciousness, yearnings and hopes, and reconnecting with infinite resource, we will be able to redefine who we want to be. This is an alternative journey, an inward journey that could go along with the outward one – “Eat, Pray, Love”. For those who do not like travel externally, or cannot afford go to Italy to eat spaghetti, then this internal travel presents an alternative approach to the work of healing, exploring, discovering and growing emotionally and spirituality.
Hailing Huang, MTS, CCC
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA