Focusing Tip #765 – Focusing with existential fear

Focusing Tip #765 – Focusing with existential fear
September 1, 2021 Ann Weiser Cornell
“Any tips for how I can help someone with Focusing on non-specific existential fear?”

Focusing Tip #765 – Focusing with existential fear

What if you have a sense of dread about anything and everything? Read on…


David writes:

I have a client who feels he has the Sword of Damocles hanging above him… in other words, he feels that doom is always about to fall. Any tips for how I can help someone with Focusing on non-specific existential fear?

Dear David:

That sounds like an unpleasant way to feel, and I’m glad your client has you to help him.

His fear may be existential, non-specific, of anything and everything. But his body feeling will be specific and particular, here and how. And it’s from the here-and-now that real change can happen.

First of all (and I’m sure you know this), actively listen. How is it that he experiences his situation? What is it like for him?

When you say back what you hear, with a tone of acceptance in your voice, you are already offering a healing process.

Most people get argued with or dismissed. In fact, most people argue with themselves, or dismiss themselves!

It’s enormously relieving to have someone hear what it’s like for you, as bad as it is, without trying to talk you out of it or make it light.

And then, at your invitation, the client checks inside. Is that how it is? Does that say it well? Or is that partly right, but there’s more?

At some point, you can add an invitation for a body feeling. You can say, gesturing toward your own body, “And maybe there is some way that all feels right now.” Not expecting an immediate answer. Hoping instead that your client will pause and take some time… and then describe something felt.

Now, if it feels right, you can give an invitation to keep company with the feeling. “Maybe you can be with that.”

It’s not what the fear is about that matters. What matters is the client’s being in relationship with the body sense of the fear, and with the “something” inside that is afraid. I’m not saying it will be easy to get there. It may take awhile. Your presence, and your patience, will matter a lot. But a new way of experiencing life is possible.

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