During my last holiday I viewed the Netflix show “Stutz.” For anyone who has not watched this documentary, it is a personal expose of the relationship between actor Jonah Hill and his unconventional therapist Dr. Phil Stutz. I characterise the therapy as being unconventional as in Jonah Hill’s words: “Before meeting you my experience of therapy was very traditional, in the sense that in conventional therapy I would be talking and that person would be asking me how I feel. Basically, keeping me at a massive distance. I was thinking how in traditional therapy you are paying this person and you save all of your problems for them, and they just listen. And your friends, who are idiots, give you advice- unsolicited. And you want your friends just to listen and you want your therapist just to give you advise.” Dr Stutz tends to fall into the category of the latter.
For Stutz he always felt like there was something missing in conventional therapy. This led him to develop various “tools” for therapy. Throughout this documentary he shares some of these tools. According to Stutz: “A tool is a bridge between what you realise the problem is and the cause of the problem, and the possibility of gaining some control over the symptom …. The possibility of you feeling yourself reacting differently”
One of the first tools that’s he shares is that of the “life force.” As we learn in the documentary, anyone who doesn’t have a sense of direction and is floating through life can always work on their life force. “You can always work on and activate your life force. It is the only part of you that is capable off guiding you when you are lost (in life).”
If you think of this concept as a pyramid, there are three levels of the life force. The bottom level is your relationship with your physical body. The second layer is your relationship with other people. And the third level is your relationship with yourself.
So, starting at the bottom layer is your relationship to your physical body and getting it working better. Getting enough movement, healthful eating and enough quality sleep. According to Dr Stutz this is 85% of the equation when people are depressed and want to start feeling better! The proposition is that lifestyle factors have a major influence on mental health and treatment.
The next level is your relationship to other people. Stultz’s view is that when people get depressed, they start pulling back from life, and relationships act like metaphorical handholds allowing yourself to “pull back into life.” The key is that you can’t wait for others to reach out, you have to take the initiative.
The last tier is the relationship you have with yourself, your internal world including your subconscious. By connecting with your life force Stultz says that you can develop a passion and a zest for life.
So, you may ask yourself why is Jason taking the time out to share his Netflix viewing, and the life lessons of Dr Phil Stutz? Well, over the last 6 months I have been completing my members portal for the “Being Vital Program. This program is the culmination of some 30 years contemplating, researching and experimenting into practices for optimal wellbeing. Like Dr Stutz, I have developed a framework – “Vital Pillars of Wellbeing.” I would now like to share how the “life force” tool and my pillars of wellbeing are interrelated.
If we look at the bottom of the life force pyramid- physical body. My vital pillars of Move, Nourish and Recover fit into the 85% that Dr Stutz recognises as contributing to optimal physical & mental health. His second tier of relationships, associates closely to my Connect pillar. While the third level of the relationship you have with self, fits nicely into my pillar of psychological flexibility- How we relate to our own internal world.
Now, although I am not a therapist, as a coach I was intrigued with Stutz unconventional approach of interacting in a more directive manner with his client. This flies in the face of the coaching maxim “the client is the expert in their own life.” However, the level of relatedness between Stutz and Hill is palpable and is key to any relationship, be it therapeutic or coaching. Both involve a shared journey of self-discovery
This reminds me of one of the central theories underpinning coaching- Self-determination theory. For coaching to be successful the client must maintain autonomy, the coach must build competence and confidence in the client, and throughout there must be connection and relatedness between both parties. The journey of change is always sped with healthy connection and support.
So, as a coach I hold up the metaphorical “mirror”, where through a process of question, reflection and enquiry, I help develop a client’s self -awareness and assist them in creating their own tools for change. Having said this, my last 30 years has involved collating and condensing best practice of wellbeing. My objective, to take away the overwhelm and bring “wellbeing” back to some simple, logical and evidence -based principles that keep it sustainable- The Being Vital Coaching Program
Join me Tuesday June 13th at 7pm for my webinar:
Hacking Healthy Habits for Optimal Wellbeing
& learn more about the Being Vital Coaching program