Blocks, Addiction, Depression, and Longing

Blocks, Addiction, Depression, and Longing
February 3, 2016 Ann Weiser Cornell

Focusing Tip #495


“Are there issues that Focusing can’t help with?”


A Reader writes:
I have been Focusing for a while, and it has brought big changes. But some things don’t ever seem to change. Are there issues that Focusing can’t help with? Should I just forget about working with those, or look for some other method that deals with trauma directly?

Dear Reader:
It’s great that Focusing has brought you so much already. And you’re facing some things that don’t change. I sympathize – you sound like me in 1994.

Focusing as I knew it then had helped me to make important changes. But there were other life issues – big ones – that never seemed to change. 1994 was when it all came to a crisis, and Barbara McGavin and I “re-booted” our Focusing so that it would work with those issues we now call Tangles. We discovered that just being with how we feel isn’t enough – because there were other parts of us in play but not in awareness.

For example, take my experience with writer’s block. I would say, “I want to write! I really want to write! I don’t know why I feel so blocked.” In my body I would feel the longing to write and the frustration at not being able to. Focusing with that longing and that frustration got me nowhere. This is because there was a hidden player in the drama, something in me that was operating powerfully, but behind the scenes, out of awareness. That was a part that DIDN’T WANT to write. Until I included that part of me in my Focusing, I was at a dead end.

We identified four “territories” that were ways of approaching life issues so that we could distinguish the different “parts” that were operating in inner conflict.

(1) The Swamp of Action Blocks.  An “action block” is any situation where there is something you want to do but you just don’t do it – like my writer’s block.

(2) The Wilderness of Addictions.  We define an addiction as a situation where a part of us is compulsively doing some behavior in an attempt to make things better – but this attempt is doomed to fail.

(3) The Pit of Depression and Despair.  In the Pit, a part of us hangs onto a painful, dark feeling and another part tries to distract and avoid. (Last week’s Tip was about this Territory.)

(4) The Mountain Top of Unfulfilled Desire.  Is this a world in which I can get what I desire? Or should I “settle” for something that feels like less?

In every case, the path to freedom and transformation really starts with acknowledging all the parts that are in the Tangle. Not acknowledging all the parts is like trying to lift up a rug that you’re standing on. A rug is not so hard to lift. But where you stand makes all the difference!

Click here to read more about the method Barbara and I created to work with Tangles.

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