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Focusing Tip #684 – “I am feeling my mother’s hopelessness – it’s not mine”

Focusing Tip #684 – “I am feeling my mother’s hopelessness – it’s not mine”
December 11, 2019 Ann Weiser Cornell
What can you do if the feeling you are experiencing is someone else's feeling, not your own? Read on..

Focusing Tip #684 – “I am feeling my mother’s hopelessness – it’s not mine”

What can you do if the feeling you are experiencing is someone else’s feeling, not your own? Read on…


Gudrun writes:

When doing Focusing, I find a hopeless feeling that is connected to a really bad situation.

But the situation is something that my mother experienced before I was born. I acknowledge the hopeless feeling, that it is really bad and so on, but how do I handle the fact that it is not my own thing I am feeling hopeless about?

Dear Gudrun:

We can carry in our own bodies the stuck emotional states of our parents and other caregivers. This happens if two factors are present:

  1. We lived with or at least interacted with the person when we were children
  2. They themselves did not acknowledge or process their traumatized emotional states

I remember hearing Gene Gendlin respond to a woman who said, “I feel like I’m a Holocaust survivor, but I wasn’t. My parents were. How could I be feeling their trauma? They never talked to me about what they went through.”

Gene said: “They didn’t have to talk about it. You lived with their bodies.”

What happened to us in childhood can cast a long shadow over the present, especially if there was no healing or resolution at the time.

And what happened to you, Gudrun, is that you felt the impact of your mother’s unresolved, unprocessed hopelessness – by living with her body.

I suggest that you give empathy to the Younger You who had to feel her mother’s hopelessness and didn’t know what to do with it. That was a hard thing to go through, for you when you were little.

You, as Self-in-Presence right now, can give empathy to the Younger You who lived with your mother and “had to” take on and feel this feeling.

You didn’t endure the bad situation your mother was in. But you did endure having to feel her feelings for her.

You can gently put a hand on the place in your body where you feel that Younger You… and let her know that you know that was hard for her, and you are with her now.

1 Comment

  1. Mary Keeney 1 month ago

    Something in this tip moved me deeply. Growing up as an HSP in an environment of emotional neglect was very difficult. I didn’t have the resources to know how to deal with it.Later, as an adult, I studied many styles of therapy, holistic health, metaphysics., etc. One thing I remember from those days was the idea that if I had a seemingly unresolvable problem, it probably was not mine. Another was that if I were able to resolve it, it would be resolved throughout the lineage, past and future. These were somewhat helpful theories but difficult to integrate. I was taught the importance of learning to discern what was mine and what belonged to some else, something I often found impossible to do.

    All that being said, the way you talk about this issue in the tip this week landed in me so differently-like a soft , solid , life-affirming YES! No longer a concept, but a compassionate No Wonder. and fully embodied recognition of “truth.” Thank you

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