Freeing Ourselves From Negative Mind Loops

When I was a child, my father was always busy,  so it’s not too surprising that often his business came first, home came second—and children came a definite third.

Most of the time that didn’t bother me. I had my own life with my friends. I rarely thought about my parents. But one time, about middle-school age, I was part of some troop or other (I don’t even remember) and there was to be a father-daughter banquet. A very strange concept for me, because I had never really done anything alone with my dad. He was either at work or we’d do things together as a family.

So this was a very special event for me. Not so special for him. In fact, so unspecial that he totally forgot about it. It probably hadn’t even registered for him in the first place. There I was, in my pretty dress, waiting for him to come home to take me to the banquet. After a while, I figured out he wasn’t going to come home—he was at work.

Suddenly, an interesting thing happened inside of me. I realized that I could make a big deal out of his forgetting me. I could let it etch into my mind as “my father doesn’t think I’m important; my father doesn’t care about me; I’m not important.” It was, in fact, starting to etch itself in like that. But then I realized I didn’t need to do that, and I realized I was going to let it go, because I knew my father. Father-daughter banquets were not in his reality. I knew he loved me because he worked really hard and came home every evening and we all had dinner together. We always had a stable home where the kids played outside with their friends and the parents did whatever they did to make sure everyone was clothed, fed, and safe. My father was not “touchy-feely” with the kids. We all knew that; it was our life.

Mind Loops Cause Emotional Pain—Uneccesary Emotional Pain

In my private practice, I see a lot of people who get into mind loops where something that happens with another person seems to “mean” something, or represent something, and it gets etched in and petrifies—and causes a lot of emotional pain. Because of something a person said or did, the relationship becomes stuck in a loop and it can’t get out and breathe again.

This often happens when painful family relationship patterns develop in childhood.

When childhood family patterns become overlaid onto an interaction with the person in front of us in the present, the interaction might represent something in our minds that’s not actually there, or that’s there in only a homeopathic dose, so to speak. The current interaction becomes etched in and rigidified, and the relationship suffers because of it. Coupling together the two—past pattern and current event—can easily etch an emotional interpretation into the mind.

For instance, if I had not had the luck to realize I didn’t need to etch in the interpretation that my father didn’t care about me or that I’m unimportant to him, I could have started generalizing and feeling slights all around me. I could have imploded into myself and made myself more and more invisible, and increasingly hurt when people didn’t see me or ignored me.

Process Work and EFT Help

I’ve found that combining Process Work (ala Arnold Mindell) and EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) is wonderful for getting at the core of these patterns that affect current relationships and transforming them into self-acceptance. Check out my Families and Relationships pages for more on how I work with childhood family patterns, relationship counseling and more.

Wishing you a free and joyous life,

Zoë

Creating Therapeutic Fairy Tales

In my many years as a Boulder psychotherapist, I’ve been fortunate to be able to incorporate many creative methods into helping clients heal emotional pain. Something I learned a number of years ago, from my training and practice in Process Work (created by Arnold Mindell), is to create fairy tales out of issues coming up in therapy. This can be especially useful when dealing with dysfunctional childhood family patterns.

Combining Process Work and EFT

As we begin co-create our fairy tale, EFT Tapping helps it continue to create itself, laying out the problem and then, organically, the solution tends to present itself. Here is such a story:

The Mirror Princess

Once upon a time, there was a castle surrounded by beautiful rolling hills, crystal lakes and a magical forest in which lived unicorns and talking deer and other magical creatures. In this castle lived a young prince and his step-sister, Nettle. The King was adored by his parents the King and Queen, but Nettle found no favor in their eyes. She was ignored and treated with disdain. When the prince became King, and was adored by all the realm, Nettle was so enraged that she stormed into the dining parlor one dinner and screamed, “Your daughter shall be cursed to be as a mirror to others. When they face her, they will see in her all that they love about themselves and will take that for themselves. Then they will look behind themselves and see all that they hate in themselves and will see it as hers, and will hate her, scorn her and mock her. She will be unseen and alone for all the days of her life, unless someone should come who loves himself completely and without condition. Such a person will be able to see through the mirror and will see the princess as she truly is.”

After several years, a beautiful baby daughter was born to the King and Queen. They looked upon her and adored her dark hair, rosy cheeks and gentle disposition. They took these for themselves, so that they too had dark hair, rosy cheeks and gentle dispositions. Then they began to walk away and looked back at her. The air shimmered around the baby. The King saw cowardice and the Queen saw selfishness. “She is so selfish!” said the Queen. “She is so cowardly,” said the King and shuddered.

Ever after, whoever came to face the young princess would take the wonderful characteristics they saw in her and take them as their own. Then, upon walking away, they would be compelled to look back. The air would shimmer and they would see ugly traits. They would be repelled by what they saw and see these traits as her traits. Soon, all the kingdom scorned and mocked and hated her.

Soon, everyone in the realm looked much like the princess. And yet, the princess was all alone. She didn’t know why everyone hated her and mocked her. She tried so hard to be good and kind and generous, but nothing changed how people reacted to her.

Only when she was in the forest surrounding the castle did she feel loved. Whenever she walked there, the deer walked beside her and they talked and laughed together. When she sat down to rest, a unicorn came to sit beside her. Soon, she was surrounded by the smallest and largest of animals and all were peaceful around her.

One day, on her 18th birthday, she ran into the forest in tears. Again and again, someone had come near her and seemed to change to take on her positive characteristics. As she did every time, she felt hope rising that this time, she would be seen and loved. But then, again and again, each person began to walk away and looked back at her. Suddenly, their expressions changed. They spewed hatred and scorn upon her. She felt so alone and rejected. As she wept in the forest, despairing, she cried to the animals to help her. They sent up a loud wailing around her in empathy for her pain.

There was a very old small brown mole who had, for all these years, hidden in his little hole. Startled out of sleep, he clambered out of his hole. “What is all this wailing?” he asked. The princess told him of her despair. No one knew how to ease her pain.

“Why of course I know what has happened, and how to solve it!” He was not a very modest sort. He told them of the step-sister’s curse.

“All you have to do is find one person who loves himself completely and without condition, and bring him to her.”

“But why is it to be a “him?” asked the animals.

“How should I know? That was the step-sister’s condition to break the curse. It’s not my condition,” the mole snapped back.

“But where will we find such a rare person?” wailed the animals.

“That is not my problem,” snorted the mole grumpily and dove back into his hole for a nap.

“You go back to the castle,” the animals urged the princess, “and we will scour the realm for the one who loves himself completely and without condition. We will bring him to you.”

For a year, the animals scoured the realm, interviewing and testing many many boys and men to find one who loved himself completely and without condition. Always, upon further questioning, each one hated or doubted something about himself.

But on the princess’ 19th birthday, the princess heard through her bedroom window a loud noise. All the animals were calling to her. Alarmed, she ran out through the castle door, over the moat and into the forest. Before her stood a beautiful young man. He looked at her and smiled. He took her hand and kissed it. She smiled back. They walked together and talked with each other. She noticed that the young man did not begin to look like her, nor did he seem to take on her character traits. He stayed looking like himself and being himself.

After a time, the day began to darken and the princess told him she had to go back to the castle. He leapt upon his horse, turned to look back, gave her a long look, smiled and waved. “I will return tomorrow,” he called.

The princess returned to the castle. Whoever she passed looked upon her and a change went over them. One by one, within moments were transformed from looking much like her to looking quite different from her. They shook themselves and greeted her. When they looked back at her, the air did not shimmer. They smiled and waved at her, and she waved back. For the first time, they saw the princess as she was.

The next day, the young man, who turned out to be the prince of a neighboring realm, came to the castle to ask for the princess. Over time, they grew to love each other and married.

EFT and Therapeutic Fairy Tales

There are many creative ways to use EFT Tapping and to combine Process Work and EFT for emotional healing. To find out more about EFT and my psychotherapy practices, see my website, EFT-Emotionalfreedom.com.

Wishing you a free and joyous life,

Zoë

Shifting From Anxiety to Emotional Freedom

Anxiety often occurs when we dread something that may happen in the future and this dread creates emotional pain. We spend a lot of energy trying to avoid or stave off this dreaded situation, and miss out on noticing the good in our lives.

Childhood Family Patterns Live on in Us

For example, here is a man whose mother was depressed and had no energy to spend with a child. He worried about her all the time, and unconsciously started to take on the job of keeping her happy and engaged with him enough to give him his basic needs. Since he was only a child, of course he often didn’t succeed.

Emotional Pain Dogs Us

Now, as an adult, he has a grown son who is also often depressed. Although the son has been independent and has always worked, the man is constantly terrified that he will lose his job and end up having to live with his father, our man. Whenever something negative happens at his son’s job, or if he gets depressed, this huge dread and anxiety arises in the man.

Anxiety Can Be Our Nervous System’s Attempt to Protect Us

Strangely, the fear that the man had as a child when his mother got depressed, and his subsequent attempts to help her emotionally started as an attempt to protect himself, to make sure she was ok enough to provide him with food and a place to sleep when he was too young to do it for himself. Unconsciously, the fear seemed the important variable and that part stayed with him.

Family Pattern Anxiety is PTSD

The fact that this specific anxiety pattern, now triggered by his son’s depression, is etched into his nervous system, is a sign of PTSD—Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

EFT Tapping Helps

EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) is often very effective in healing PTSD. For example, this man came to the realization that, even if his son were to have to live with him, it would not be the end of the world. He was able to really feel that, if it came to that, something else would come after that, that is, it would not be permanent. The relief was palpable, and it lasted. This is emotional freedom.

For more information on how EFT helps with stress, trauma and PTSD, check out my pages on Stress and Trauma, EFT and EFT Case Studies. My home page gives an overview of my Psychotherapy and Organizational Consulting work.

Wishing you a free and joyous life,

Zoë