November 10 2009 – Getting Unblocked #35

November 10 2009 – Getting Unblocked #35
December 28, 2009 Ann Weiser Cornell

"My first psychologist's reaction to my emotions is blocking me now"


writes: "First I saw a cognitive psychologist and now I see a Focusing
psychologist. Whenever I now face some difficult/deep emotion that
really needs acceptance, I remember my first psychologist's reactions
to my emotions and thoughts as 'unacceptable, bad, irrational' as she
tried to help me 'fix' everything. I feel this part of her in me now,
which makes it hard to truly feel OK about having a certain feeling,
i.e. feeling lazy, feeling sad, etc. What would you recommend?"

Dear Miriam,
so sorry that happened to you. Unfortunately there's too much of that
going on, the notion that people can be helped to 'fix' their emotions
by labeling them things like 'unacceptable, bad, irrational'. Clearly
that's the opposite of what we do in Inner Relationship Focusing…
though let's acknowledge that practitioners of cognitive psychotherapy
vary widely in how they apply their work, and those methods evidently
have been helpful to many.

In any case, you are finding the
memory of those sessions seeming to block you now in your attempts to
simply invite the feel of those emotional places so you can get to know
them better. Of course!

Whether or not we've had that kind of
therapy, almost all of us can relate. We've all had experiences where
our emotions were not accepted. Some of us were told not to be sad or angry.
Others got subtler signals like looks of disapproval and the withdrawal
of attention.

One big reason that bringing acceptance to our own
emotional process is not easy is that we've gotten the opposite message
for so long. Our parents, our peers, and our culture have told us that
we needed to control and fix our feelings. If we didn't get those
messages from everyone, we were the lucky ones.

Not being accepted is a kind of hurt, and a hurt place needs attention


what I would recommend is that you turn toward those places in you that
are carrying the hurt of not being accepted. Being accepted was what
wanted to happen; when you and your emotions were labeled as
unacceptable, that hurt.

You might not be aware of the hurt.
("Hurt" is my word; it might have another description for you.) So it
helps to take time, feel in your body, and invite the feel of it. "I'd
like to get in touch with something in me that feels the hurt of my
emotional places being called unacceptable." Then wait. When the
feelings come, be gentle. Say "Hello I know you're there… and I'm
here to listen."

You CAN create an inner environment of
acceptance for yourself. You are ultimately the only one who can. AND
you are not alone. You can draw on the resources of everyone you know
or remember, near or far, who offers you words of comfort and

And it might be that when you hear the voice of your
ex-therapist in your head, that also comes from a part of you that is
worried, scared… maybe scared that s/he was right, and your emotions
do need to be controlled. If that's so, that's another part of you that
you can turn to with compassion.

There's no right or wrong in
us. We don't have good feelings vs bad feelings, good thoughts vs bad
thoughts. Everything is something to turn toward as a listener, to turn
toward, to get to know better.


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