Obstacles And Challenges In The Healing Process
Healing is complex and messy and it helps to look at the challenges and obstacles you most probably will face in the process sooner or later. Emotional Recycling is an innocent journey of exploration. With the triggers serving as an entry point, we follow a natural path that is unfolding as soon as we (or better said our protective brain) step out of the way.
Those journeys of exploration will hit some “roadblocks” or obstacles where we will get stuck for a moment. Roadblocks are basically layers we hit as we are peeling away in an attempt to get to the core of an issue (to the original pain). There are a couple of potential obstacles we have identified from doing our own healing journey that got later confirmed by our clients. We categorize them into the three most important ones for you to become aware of on your own journey.
Obstacle Number One – Defence Mechanisms Kicking In
As we are navigating through difficult feelings, it is natural for our intelligent brain to kick in and defend against emotional upheaval. In other words, the part of the brain that has the function to protect us from hurt (the brainstem) will instinctively keep the very emotions we are trying to allow and feel inhibited. Let’s look a moment at the science behind defense mechanisms. The brain research work of Ronald Melzack (The challenge of pain, New York, Penguin, 1989) discovered an adaptive biological response for inhibiting pain. He defined this process as “neuronal gating”. Neuronal gating is the way information between the three brain systems (the prefrontal cortex, limbic system, and brain stem) are controlled.
Defending against emotional pain means repressing it, keeping it “down” in the lower regions of the brain.
That repression happens primarily at the gate between the thinking brain – the neocortex, and the feeling brain – the limbic system. When the emotional pain from the limbic system reaches overwhelm, an automated mechanism shuts the gate between those two brain regions keeping the emotional storm at bay.
John Bradshaw said that “Numbing our pain is achieved through various ego defenses we use when reality becomes intolerable. Some of the most common defenses are denial – “it’s not really happening”. Furthermore we have repression – “it never happened!”, dissociation – “I don’t remember what happened”, projection – “It’s happening to you, not to me”, conversion – “I eat or have sex when I feel it happening” and minimizing – “It happened, but It’s no big deal.” As we are going through an emotional recycling session, how do we recognize that our defense mechanism is kicking in and what do we do when it happens?
Here are a couple of specific defence responses we observe when working with our clients:
- Sudden disconnection from the feelings
- Talking about a feeling or experience, rather than feeling it
- Justifying or explaining it
- Resisting the therapists’ guidance, rebelling
- Getting angry with the therapist
- Laughing as we talk about our feelings or using sarcasm
- Changing the subject and talking about something else
Why We Defend
It is vital to understand why we defend and even more vital to develop compassion for having the need to defend as you are doing your healing work. We do not naturally come with empathy when it comes to our defense mechanisms. We rather judge and criticize ourselves for doing so. However, we must understand that putting up defences at some point in our life (during childhood as well as while growing up) was vital.
When we were little and we had to endure emotional pain there was mostly no one there to attuned to our need for having our feelings validated. We were basically left alone with our pain and it was too much to bear for us. Over time our brain kicked in as back-up to basically save us from the pain. Feeling left alone in our pain is one of the worst feelings we can have and it happened to so many of us, only that we do not remember. Our defences make sure that we do not remember. #
As a result today, even if we choose to dive into those uncomfortable places, the default is still to defend and shut down the upheaval. If you have not yet consciously felt the depth of those painful moments, you do not really understand that the feeling is one of dying. This is a challenge. Because at the very end of every feeling, every trigger, if you follow down that path you end in one core feeling: The feeling of not being loved and of not mattering.
Every trigger, in our experience, leads back to that core wound. And trust us, we both have been there; when you go back to those early memories of not feeling loved, the desperation that comes with it makes you feel like wanting to vanish, to die, to dissolve. So yes, defenses are important because they defend against that feeling of dying. “I will die if I am not gonna be loved right now!”. We defend against feeling that. Basically, behind every time you revert to defending you know that you are defending against a feeling that comes with an ocean of pain. That is why you need compassion, rather than criticizing yourself.
How Do We Move Safely Through Layers Of Defence? This Is What We Do With Our Clients:
STEP 1 – OBSERVATION
In step one we mirror the client, and show how he is defending by sharing what we observe: “I want to share an observation with you. I observe that as I asked you how x or y feels, you responded with a justification. You said x, y or z. Can you see that?” or “I observe that as we were diving deeper into the pain, you completely disconnected from the feeling. Can you see that?” And we do that with love and non-judgment, by simply making them aware of it. This allows them to acknowledge it which is step number 2.
STEP 2 – AWARENESS & ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
In step two we become aware of the fact that we are defending and we acknowledge it from a place of compassion and away from self-judgment. That does not mean you have to fake to be compassionate, it is more the intention that matters. If you do not feel the compassion, you gotta move through the layer of self-judgment first. You can best do that by expressing that you are judging yourself and breathe with it. With every breath, you let go more and more of the self-judgment. If it persists expressing how you judge yourself. You can say out loud what you are telling yourself. “I am so stupid. I do not get it. I feel so small, so incapable. I really cannot do this work”. Then you breathe with that and fully accept that.
Do it as long as you can feel some relaxation around the self-judging. With the relaxation comes openness. While you are judging, you are naturally closing and tensing up your body. So with breathing and expressing you are opening up which allows you to come to a place of compassion. You can think about: “I know that I have had very valid reasons why I needed to defend against emotional upheaval. It was way too much for me to handle. I know it was vital back then. Now, however, I am an adult and I can let go of defenses more and more, in my very own time.” In this way, you are respecting your tempo. Knowing that there is nothing to do, nowhere to go. Just breathing with what is. The most important thing in this work is pacing, not pushing.
Give yourself the time you need to get to the core of things.
Why is that so important? Because your brain needs to make one very important experience: “This was a safe challenge. I didn’t die from it. I can relax. I am safe.” This allows the brain to relax its defenses and as you are moving along, you can go a tiny step further in the journey of exploration. You are creating a new imprint, a new neuronal pathway. That pathway says; feeling my feelings is a safe thing to do. Without those experiences–approaching a defense, allowing and acknowledging it, relaxing into it without pushing through it, your brain would not learn that feeling our feelings is a safe thing to do now, in adult life.
WHY is that so important? Because your brain needs to make one very important experience; “This was a safe challenge. I didn’t die from it. I can relax. I am safe.” It allows the brain to relax its defences and as you are moving along, you can go a tiny step further in the journey of exploration. You are creating a new imprint, a new neuronal pathway. That pathway says; feeling my feelings is a safe thing to do. Without those experiences–approaching a defense, allowing and acknowledging it, relaxing into it without pushing through it, your brain would not learn that feeling our feelings is a safe thing to do now, in adult life.
Beware Of Shame
Another important layer might come up for you when you encounter your defence mechanisms. We see that often in our clients and of course from our own journey. When we mirror the defence strategies to our clients, a feeling of shame or of not being good enough can come up, even a feeling of failing. Shame is the single most difficult feeling ever. Toxic shame for who we are. We will dive into that a little later though. Instead of feeling those painful new feelings (a new layer), we tend to act-in by telling ourselves that we are unable to do the work. We make ourselves wrong for it, and even feel too stupid to do this work. That is all part of another important feeling/layer that longs to be integrated. By doing so (acting-in by making ourselves wrong), we actually strengthen our defences and we keep bypassing our actual feeling which is “I feel unworthy”.
Whenever you ignore a layer and you push too much, the brain gets his original imprint confirmed; it is not safe for me to feel. Let’s keep those defenses up. You are basically taking one step forward and 5 steps back. Rushing through this work is never worth it. On the contrary, the more respectful you can be of the tempo your heart and soul need to access painful feelings, the faster your process will go. That is why our in-house intensives are so powerful and sustainable. We can perfectly guide the client in alignment with their natural pace and achieve much more in a much shorter time. We usually do 5-7 days of 2 sessions a day and each session lasts around 2 hours. It’s powerful beyond measure. We see miracles unfolding every time a client spends a week with us.
Obstacle Number Two – Sudden Disconnection From A Feeling
You are deeply involved in a feeling and you are at a point where you are really feeling it and puff, all of a sudden you disconnect. You stop feeling. You go blank, completely numb. Gone. We see that happen in every client. Immediately they start feeling that something is wrong with that. That this should not happen. However, it does and that means that your brain just felt the need to shut the gate and inhibit those feelings. Once a sudden disonnection happens, you can do the following:
Recognize what is happening and quietly tell yourself: “Aaahhh, interesting! I feel nothing at all anymore.” and then take a deep breath.
Consciously breathe with what just happened. “It’s okay that I just disconnected from my feelings, obviously that was the safest way in that very moment.”
Relax fully into it, absent of judgment or criticism. Drop every idea of what should happen right now and simply let go. With every out-breath, you just relax more and more and drop more and more. Nothing to do. Nowhere to go. Then you restart. You tune back into the space in the middle of your chest and see what is happening there.
Obstacle Number Three – Another More Pressing Layer Is Coming Up Blocking The Road Ahead
As we mentioned before, deep healing is a conscious journey of exploration. You sit down and you explore your feelings. You always start with a trigger and you take it from there. On that journey you might have a clear idea of where something is heading and all of a sudden you can feel that something got stuck. Nothing moves anymore. You are confused, you don’t know where to go from there. What could be happening is that something new popped up that you are not aware of. A new spontaneous layer.
Let me make an example. I am working with a client. I am guiding her through her journey. She is well in her feeling and all of a sudden, she loses the connection of that feeling. She does not immediately feel that all of a sudden, the feeling changed. She was just crying about something and all of a sudden, she stopped, not realizing that she just felt a pinch of anger coming up. Maybe there is something I said that she did not like. Maybe all of a sudden, she gets self-conscious and starts to feel ashamed in her vulnerability. It can literally be anything. The point is that it is a moment where a feeling changed. Unlike above where she just can’t feel anything anymore she actually feels, but is unaware of feeling a new feeling, a different one.
If you are unsure whether you are just stuck defending or if there is another feeling there, you can ask yourself: “Am I defending, if yes, how am I defending? Or am I activated in a different feeling? Perhaps shame, anger or confusion?” Close your eyes and tune back in and try to observe what is happening. The clues are the sensations in your body. Look for the signs. A slight agitation in your body? Maybe a slight frustration, maybe a layer of shame? Let your body give you the clues. What am I feeling in my body? Maybe there is nervousness or agitation. “Ah, I can feel that all of a sudden I am getting really nervous.” So what just made you nervous? Breath through those new explorations and relax into them.
Generally, it might get hard emotionally and you might want to give up because you think it will never end. We can tell you this: We perfectly know how that feels. We have been there and we wanted to give up a thousand times. Especially in those moments, spiritual bypassing becomes more attractive than ever. However, it was the pushing through, the commitment and dedication that kept us going.
Your Options To Embark On Your Healing Journey
As we said this process is not for the fainthearted. It is for those who truly want to burn their childhood trauma and rise like phoenix from the ashes of their old self. If we did it, you can do it too. It is time for the next step of human evolution; highly alive and feeling human beings who stand strong in their uniqueness and united in love, not fear. If you want to live a life in true emotional fulfillment, love, and happiness, there is no other way than understanding how your childhood experiences have affected you and what sabotaging scripts you have written as a consequence of it.
Stop living by those scripts and start breaking free from your emotional prison to finally take pride and own your divine essence that brings you real happiness, purpose, and joy. There is nothing more powerful than being supported in your process by someone who has truly walked the path before you. You will get the best short-cuts and insights that will propel your progress like nothing else and we will guide you through the upcoming challenges and obstacles during your healing process. We have various options for you to look at.
1 ON 1 COACHING Book your one on one deep dive journey: For at least 3 months we will have weekly sessions to teach you the methodology. Together we will re-create access to your feelings so you can start exploring where you need healing. This is for the brave ones who want to go for it and just look for the most efficient and lasting solution.
RETREATS Come to one of our retreats: The power of group exposure is incredible. Meet other brave people who come to sit with you in your vulnerability and who want the same as you do. This will be a truly exceptional human experience, as you will get so many powerful imprints that will change your life forever and gift you with new like-minded friends.
BOOK Get our book: Our book will come out in summer 2021. It will be your healing bible, and contain everything in detail. Theory combined with practical approaches that will kickstart your personal healing journey. It will be like nothing you have ever read before.
GROUP COACHING Join one of our group coaching programs: These are small group coaching programs to ensure enough individual time with either Aleah or Dan. The intimacy we will create will allow you to enjoy a safe and honest container to do the work together.
We hope we inspired you to start your own healing journey, and we can’t wait to get to know you! Leave us a message or directly book a free discovery call. See you on The Royal Path!
Aleah Ava & Dan Hart,
Founders of The Royal Path