Be Not Afraid


Here’s yet another counter-intuitive idea, which most would agree makes sense, except not for them.

Explore, and experiment with, those things you scare yourself about

Our culture teaches us the opposite — that when scared or confused, run like hell.

If you’ve been with us for a while, you’ll know that one place where all of this “comes home to roost” is with Bodywork. (We’ll be talking next issue about the mechanics of blocked energy and how Bodywork can help — this week, we’ll just look at the metaphor.)

Metaphor – There’s a sore spot, and the
Bodyworker pushes on it, hard.
Or, holds points where old, old stuff is.
On other planets, people might argue that
“if it hurts, leave it alone.”

We beg to differ.

Nothing gets resolved by ignoring it. Plain and simple. Take relationship issues. Rare indeed is the couple who comes for counselling at the first hint of difficulty — or even before there is a difficulty.

No, people put up with minor discomfort, which becomes an issue, which becomes a problem, which becomes a fight, which becomes a crisis. Then, they show up and “want the therapist to  fix it.”

Sometimes, years have passed since the whole thing started, but working on it back then didn’t happen, because such work was seen as painful, and therefore better put off. Many, many people live their whole lives this way.

Often, people show up, and then do a couple of sessions just to get the pain back down to a manageable level. They don’t want to move to a new level of understanding. They want psychological Aspirin.

I can be a demanding guy about this. I want people to deeply confront the games they are playing with themselves and with others, and to find alternatives. I think that 75% of the people who show up on my doorstep are in it for short term pain reduction as opposed to engaging in a life long project of tackling the really important stuff.

It get so weird. People will uncover some old, ancient trauma, which is usually attached to a physical illness. Often it is the illness — or perhaps better put — the persistence of the illness — that brings them in. We start to work, and because I’m me, we get to the real issue pretty quickly. Then, the walls go up.

“Oh no! Not that! I can’t deal with that! You’re not going there, are you?” That’s the point many people stop, or go find a “kinder, gentler” therapist.

I’m baffled. I wonder aloud why they only want symptom relief, as opposed to getting to the root, the core, of the issue. I start hearing excuses — money, time, distance, the illness. I am, I repeat, baffled. Why would the person choose to stay stuck in the same crap, over and over, when tacking the root cause, while painful, is also extremely effective?

I think it boils down to this: people figure that a recognizable level of pain, hurt, and disappointment is better, somehow, than the effort they imagine actually dealing with the root issue will cost them.

Of course, the joke is this: nothing, absolutely nothing, gets better by itself. Half measures provide a modicum of relief, but pretty soon the person is back where they started from — or worse.

It seems to me that it is far easier to tackle the big stuff head on. Not once in a while, but all the time. As I get older, with less physical resources to cover over the crap, I think tackling stuff at the root is essential.

I amuse myself over my 40-something friends and clients, who are rapidly discovering that the games of their youth no longer work. Bodies are slowing down, breaking down; their bodies are coming up with all sorts of odd symptoms, diseases and problems.

Much, much harder to ignore this stuff, but ignore it they do.

And then they fall down for a week or a month. Whatever it is, symptomatically, gets worse. Same thing with relationship issues. What was swallowed whole is now hard on the stomach. Heartaches and stomach aches are common, and no longer passed off as aberrations.

The way through this mine-field is through relentless self-reflection and examination. In a sense, the Bodywork metaphor is apt. What is required is deep pressure right where it hurts. No running away.

The irony is that the hard work pays off.

I have one client I work with who, last week, wrote,

Physically, my back is pain free.
Still having stomach twinges and some
feeling of heaviness way down. 
I felt lots last night…more than in a long time. 
It was like oh…hello.. it’s you…
I’ve missed you….
where have you been…you are one hot, vibrant,
deep, real, messy woman!
I really appreciated you staying with me
through all that. I’m always amazed at your ability to know that I’m not finished
even when I think I am.

The “staying with” is the easy part. There’s nothing I would rather do (other than hang out with Darbella,) than work with a client who is pushing through a drama or an illness or life itself. There is a beauty and a symmetry to this work, when we get out of the work’s way.

This week, list all of the excuses you use to keep yourself from being whole, real and alive. Ask yourself what excuse you are using to avoid dealing with the issue head on.

Then, get over yourself, and start!

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