Over the years I’ve talked openly with several skilled therapists as I sought to understand the traumas of the past that shaped my life. They helped me find answers to the complicated inter-personal puzzles as we worked together to identify and interpret the bygone events.
The process was rewarding and enlightening, but there was a limit to the restorative power of my office visits. I realized that “understanding” does not by itself, make for lasting healing. The work is not complete at that point. Ultimately, the transformations that free us from the past come from the inside out, not the outside in.
A map to the source of wellness can be drawn in an office. But invariably, uprooting negative and painful beliefs is a process that takes place in the quietude of your personal space. In the stillness, the experiences residing in the subconscious do not know time. The negative perceptions about yourself that continue to dog you can be exposed and made subject to the challenging question, “Who would I be if I didn’t believe this about myself?”
For me, the answer revealed itself in fragments of puzzle pieces that I joined together over time. To be candid, I’m still engaged in the process. It’s on-going, a continuing ‘practice;’ what we mean when we talk about ‘doing the work.’
I sit quietly and calm myself with deep breathing, exhaling about two beats slower than my in-breath.
When ready, I bring to mind a belief about myself that is lingering on from the past and continues to cause me suffering. I muster up my courage and don’t dodge my role in the scenario or the feelings that rise to the surface. I try to visualize all the details – time, place and situation – of the event that triggers the painful feelings.
From my quiet place, fully mindful, I detach and become a spectator observing what took place. I follow the plot line that leads me to the negative belief about myself. I tune into my body, feeling the tension, the physical, literal expression of the “energy” associated with my negative feelings.
I’m a witness, observing the scene, detached from the characters. Being a spectator I can recognize how my belief about myself came into play. I can make the connection to how my adult life was shaped. There is the realization that perception does not always align with reality.
Having done the “clearing out,” it’s my opportunity to take control; to say, “I’ve got this,” I have a future where I can find out what life is like with the wounds healed and a positive belief system firmly in place. I take the leap.
Therapy is a great help with the transformation. But ultimately the healing is of my own doing.