If you’ve got a part that insists on being tense and vigilant so you won’t be hurt again, what can you do?

If you’ve got a part that insists on being tense and vigilant so you won’t be hurt again, what can you do?
February 1, 2017 Ann Weiser Cornell

Focusing Tip #545


“And that is where I get stuck. This part of me doesn’t want me to go any further.”


Monica writes:

In Focusing with a stiffness I routinely feel in my back, a part of me let me know that she is not letting up on tensing the back because she needs to feel in control. She further explained that she needs to control so that I don’t get hurt by other people again. And that is where I get stuck. This part of me doesn’t want me to go any further.

I’m also aware of so many social cliches around control and hurt. Things like “You can’t control whether or not people hurt you,” or “You just have to open your heart,” etc. Obviously none of these thoughts are providing me any relief. Suggestions for how to move forward?

Dear Monica:

This is a beautiful example of what Barbara McGavin and I call a Tangle!

It feels impossibly stuck because there is no path forward from here – this well-intentioned part that is trying to save your from hurt is determined not to change, and these well-intentioned aphorisms about just opening your heart (that come from another part) are not helping at all.

You’ve even done Focusing and you’re still feeling stuck! What to do?

This is exactly why Barbara and I created the work that we call “Untangling,” which is Focusing plus an awareness of parts and how they operate.

So, from Untangling:

The pre-condition for any kind of change is to be Self-in-Presence. In this case that means that YOU need to not try to get the back tenseness to change. If that part senses that you are trying to get it to change, it will dig in, and nothing will move.

So be Self-in-Presence when you are in touch with that part, and give it lots of empathy and compassion for how it doesn’t want you to get hurt by other people again. Of course! In fact, say to it, “No wonder!”

You might be open to it showing you the times of past hurt that it doesn’t want to have happen to you again, and really appreciate that it doesn’t want THAT to happen again.

Now, rather than arguing or discussing or finding it other “jobs” to do, we are going deeper. Deeper means sensing what it is not wanting to happen to you IF you are hurt by other people again.

I don’t have space here to go into the whole process but I hope you get the idea: relationship and empathic connection are what lead to release and change.

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