Outsourcing Your Self

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Dr Ottilia Brown

Outsourcing Your Self

Posted 16 Sep 2019

Happiness & Health Coach

Dr. Ottilia Brown

Outsourcing Your Self

‘Everything in the universe is within you. Ask all from yourself.’ - Rumi

Outsourcing is a business practice that was adopted in the 1980s as a cost cutting measure. The idea is to contract certain company functions out to other companies or countries that can provide the service for a lower price. This worked well for a while until labour costs started rising in these countries. Outsourcing may also result in key aspects of the business not being entirely under the control of the business as more and more role-players get involved in the outsourcing network. We often do the exact same with our self-worth and/or happiness. The ‘I’ll be happy when…’ mindset is a prime example of this. I’ll be happy when I lose this weight. I’ll be happy when I make enough money. I’ll be happy when I find love… you catch my drift.

When we practice an outsourcing mindset, we hand over control to someone or something else... and we set ourselves up for failure. We may experience short term happiness or feel great about ourselves when we lose those few kilos or are in a relationship, but unfortunately that feeling of wellbeing does not last as either the novelty wears off or our circumstances change. This leads us to realise that someone or something else cannot make us happy, cannot define our worth; yet we keep going around in the same circles. This outsourcing myth is fed to us by popular cultures and lifestyle sales pitches, a myth we so readily buy into as we are looking for that quick fix or immediate gratification. This is exactly why self-soothing behaviours like excessive shopping or comfort eating do not offer long term feelings of happiness and wellbeing.

The outsourcing mindset can also originate from our conditions of worth. Conditions of worth arise from messages we receive as children about what we need to do or be to be valued. A simple example… being praised only when achieving an A at school and receiving no feedback or negative feedback in the form of anger or disapproval and disappointment when it’s a B. We learn that we are valued when we get As. These conditions of worth can come in many forms: ‘Work hard’, ‘Be good’, ‘Please others’, ‘Be the best’… and so forth. Conditions of worth limit us and create the belief that our value and self-worth is rooted in these prerequisites. Some of these conditions like ‘Work hard’ and ‘Be the best’, can inspire achievement and success, however, actions are then mostly rooted in the expectations of others and own aspirations, talents and passions may be suppressed. Unfortunately, the achievements then do not bring much inhouse feelings of fulfilment, contentment and/or happiness. Alternatively, conditions of worth like ‘Be good’’ and ‘Please others’ can result in us suppressing our inner voice and engaging in behaviours that can be detrimental to the self.

Outsourcing, whether self-imposed or stemming from our conditions of worth, inevitably comes with a set of problems that we can avoid if we decide to do things inhouse. Happiness, contentment, self-worth, self-esteem, inner peace… all these states are best achieved by taking personal responsibility and living a life of personal accountability. Taking responsibility automatically puts us in the driving seat of our own lives. The minute we realise that we can choose our responses to life events, and more importantly cultivate our own happiness, we can activate parts of ourselves that have been dormant, and we can experience a sense of personal power. How does one embark on this journey of personal accountability?

  • Get to know yourself. Slow down, go quiet and spend some time with yourself. Journal, meditate, go for long walks, try new things, step out of your comfort zone.
  • Catch those conditional ‘I’ll be happy when…’  thoughts as they enter your mind. Goals are good, ambition and drive are admirable… however, hinging your worth and happiness on these achievements could hamper your enjoyment of the process of achieving and could leave you wanting in the absence of achieving.
  • Understand your conditions of worth. Explore when you feel most valued by others and write down whatever comes to mind. Notice if any themes emerge.
  • Watch out for unhealthy habits that can add to the outsourcing mindset. These can include comfort eating, self-critical thinking, falling into the wrong relationships for the wrong reasons, and so forth. Typically, one does not feel very good after engaging in these behaviours. A common negative emotion experienced is guilt accompanied by negative self-deprecating self-talk.
  • Engage in self-care. We take such good care of others or of our things… how about checking in with that body and mind of yours and asking what they need? When we take time to selfcare we are powerfully communicating with ourselves that we are a priority. This may feel strange initially if this is not something familiar, but with time it becomes such a necessary way of communicating with and refuelling the self.
  • Learn to bring yourself back into the NOW! We spend a lot of time allowing our minds to wander to the past or the future. Most of the time we are not even aware of what is going on in our minds. Make a concerted effort to check in with yourself from time to time to ensure that you are enjoying the simple pleasures like savouring a cup of coffee, noticing the beauty of your surroundings, really focusing on being in the moment when connecting with loved ones, and so forth.
  • Engage in a gratitude practice which is based in the now and centres you on what is going well instead of what you have not achieved as yet. My blog for May is a helpful guide for intensifying your gratitude practice.

Enritschers, wishing you a fruitful journey into the self… initially scary and possibly even painful, but oh so rewarding in the long run!


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