THE SECRET BATTLE: The Tools: Tool #2 - The Path of Tears
Techniques for Getting Ignition
Ways to Get Around Your Resistance
Sometimes getting to ignition can be the most difficult and frustrating thing you'll experience when working on healing your damaged emotional self. Since ignition is the most important part of the three step process, here are some techniques we've found useful for getting around mental blocks and fear of crying.
This list is not rigid or by any means finished. This list is merely offered as things you can try. A place to begin, if you are having trouble getting to ignition. If you'd like to share a technique that works for you, please send email.
Remember, resistance is a very slippery and clever animal. What works one day will likely not work the next. You will need to become as clever and persistent as your resistance. The more you cry your old pain, the more you loosen up your old stuck behavior patterns and beliefs, and the easier it will be for you to get around your resistance. It has taken many years for your resistance to learn a multitude of slippery ways to keep the feelings down, and it has been a matter of survival that it do so. But now we want to reverse those behaviors, because our survival now depends on letting the feelings move. It will take some time, and experience of doing it, for you to learn a multitude of ways to get around the multitude of resistance behaviors.
- Jump Start With Grief - This may seem like an artificial way to get to your pain, but trust me, sometimes a little artifice is necessary.
Let's say you feel a welling up of pain about a situation. You are aware of the rage, or grief or whatever, in your body, in your throat, behind your eyes, but you can't seem to cross the hidden barrier of your resistance to letting the feelings out. Sit down and watch a sad movie. If you have a video tape that you can rewind and watch the same sad scene over and over again, sometimes the repetition is helpful. Listen to a really sad song, one that you know will make you feel a lot of grief. Remember a past sad event, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a beloved pet. Try to let the sad feelings well up and spill over into tears.
The idea here is to trigger yourself into tears through the grief door. The door to grief is not as well guarded, the barrier is not as thick, as that holding other feelings. In most societies, grief is the ONE acceptable emotional expression, and often during times of grieving, our emotional backlog takes advantage of the opening to squeeze through and express, as much as it possibly can. Our emotional parts are always seeking healing and expression, even when it seems they are not. If you can use this less-guarded doorway to move your point of consciousness to the "other side", once you are there in your emotional self, you will be more able to connect with, feel, and cry your other pain.
- "Crossing the pattern" - One very good way to stop the acting out and get to ignition is by "crossing the pattern". Where an accumulation of pain has become an ingrained pattern of behavior, the only way to get past the resistance there is to go against the pattern.
Let's say for instance that I have a pattern of blaming rage at a particular person, and that pattern keeps me spinning in rageful activities that never reach rageful ignition. For instance, I yell and call that person horrible names, sometimes we fight, and my journal is full of pages and pages of raging words, and some nights I lay awake and spin in scenarios -- in my minds eye, I succeed in telling them off, winning the fight, having the last word! But these activities don't result in tears. I write and imagine and sometimes yell, but I don't get ignition.
I need to cross my own pattern, stop my own acting out.
This means I try to come up with a behavior that is the opposite of what rage wants to do. For instance, the resistance pattern wants to yell and lambast and call names... I may then need to refuse to allow the rage to say any words. No words at all. The frustration of this may be enough to cross the pattern and get the feelings to ignition. I may pretend I'm very small and say "Please don't hurt me". That might allow rage to feel its vulnerability and trigger it into ignition. Then I might find fear surfacing, as well as the rage. OR, I may imagine the person I'm angry at standing before me in sorrow and shame, giving me permission to be angry, telling me I have every right. Sometimes that's all that's needed to stop the spinning and get the rage really moving. And once it's moving, then I might find hurt behind the rage, as well as the rage.
If the pattern is saying "It's not safe to cry", try saying "I'm totally safe here and now". If the pattern is saying "I am total shit and deserve to die", try saying, "I'm the most important creation on the planet!" with enthusiasm. Whether it's true or not is not important. What's important is to do something opposite to what the frozen resistance wants to do. Jostle your pain enough to bring it bubbling up past the wall of resistance so it can cry.
- Role Play - You can do this alone, but sometimes it's also helpful to have a trusted friend to participate with you. When role playing, it's important to proceed with care. Again, the important thing is to get to ignition. If you find yourself just spinning in words and scenarios, stop and try the opposite role, or try some other technique.
Become the small child inside who is hurting, and try letting that part of you speak without censor. Become the self-hate part of you that is hating you, let that part speak to you all the horrible things it wants to say.
NOTE: My personal experience with this has been that self-hate moves quickly into resistance and is very difficult to get to ignition. If you are spinning in words and the hate/rage is not crying, abandon this tactic. Also, let things move in response. I spent two minutes in the self-hate part, and then I had to collapse into heartbreak for half an hour, from the part of me that felt so hurt by my own self-hate. Whatever the feelings are that surface, let them all move. This is not meant to be a rigid process!
- Get Physical - Let yourself go really deeply in to a scenario, act it out physically. Punch a pillow, hit yourself with a pillow. Try not to do any actual damage, but sometimes doing something physical or in role playing helps to get the feelings moving.
I have an old couch I pound and kick. Sometimes while I pound, I yell "I HATE you!" over and over again. This only works if you let the feelings surface to tears. If you find yourself just pounding and never getting to ignition, you need to use a different method. Your rage is just using this physicality as another means to avoid itself. Do not let yourself get stuck in Phase One activity.
- Hold Still - Just be absolutely quiet. Be WITH your feelings. You'd be surprised how much feeling will bubble up when you just be still and quiet and don't try to talk or think or move to distract yourself from your pain.
- Write It Down - This can be a very helpful technique. I have written many rage-filled letters that never got sent. Although I have to be careful, I can tend to get lost in the words on the page. Always try to remember it's not the words that matter. The goal is to get the tears flowing. If it doesn't bring up tears, try something else.
- Talk to Your Feelings - Your emotional self is alive and has an awareness of you. Reach out your arms to your feeling-self, and let him/her know that you WANT to listen. If you've been hateful and judgmental of your emotions, you might want to try apologizing to your tender self, let him/her know that you accept him/her now. Then sit down to listen. Really listen.
Here's where point of consciousness comes into play. Your point of consciousness when you start this exercise will be with your mind. You will need to slowly shift your point of consciousness to your emotions, in order to let them join with you and cry and heal.
- Imagery - Your imagination is one of your greatest gifts, and one of the most effective tools for getting around resistance. The best example I have is when I am frozen in terror of God. The terror does not allow me to feel safe enough to open to God, and yet, God's love is the very thing I need to be able to cry the terror and heal the old wounds. I feel caught between a rock and a hard place in this conundrum.
So I pretend. I imagine what it would feel like if God were sitting in a chair opposite me, listening patiently and lovingly. I imagine what it would feel like if he let me hide my head in the lapel of his coat (yes, in my imagery, God wears a coat, and it smells like pipe tobacco...). Sometimes I imagine myself as a very small child, and he lets me climb onto his lap and he holds me. Sometimes it's not God, but the Golden Mother who holds me and offers me comfort and safety. Sometimes I can't get to the point of feeling safe, but I imagine that God or the Mother is listening to me and wanting to hear my pain, and the dam will break just by "pretending" they are listening.
The point is, even though my feelings -- at that moment -- do not believe this to be possible, imagining it to be true allows the wall to crumble and I find myself in tears. Every time. It almost never fails, as long as I let myself go deeply enough into the imagery, deeply enough into the "pretend".
And then, when I'm done crying, I often find that the presence of God or the Mother that I "imagined", wasn't really pretend at all.