It All Starts with a Feeling
“Where does this feeling come from?”
As they start to heal, this is the #1 question self-healers ask themselves. They become finely tuned to the emotions in their body, and they learn to know when they are moving from a sense of ease to a sense of un-ease—or, if you will, dis-ease.
Dis-ease can be related to many things: a hiccup in daily routine, a new situation to navigate, a family upset, a loss, and so much more. The task of the self-healer is to get curious not only about the feeling, but to what the feeling is attached.
- What brought this feeling up in me?
- What about that situation feels uncomfortable?
- When have I felt this before?
- What is similar about this situation to that one?
- What is the feeling?
- And what do I need to see, feel, or express, so that this feeling can shift?
There is a Trigger, or Hook
So many of the situations that bring up unexpected emotion in us are, to borrow the popular term, “triggers.” The feeling from this situation “fires” the pain or trauma of that situation. We can work all we like to heal what is happening in the moment, but the real work is to heal the trauma around when we first felt the feeling. While trigger is an apt term in that it expresses the firing of a gun that is primed to go off, I prefer to use the term hook. When we are triggered, we are hooked: the hook is embedded in the now, but it is tied to something in the past. Follow the hook to the beginning.
Using INsideOWT to Heal the Hook
INsideOWT work is a simple way to do this. We Immerse into inner awareness of ourselves, Notice what energy comes up, Own any feelings that arise, become Willing to Play in our imagination with the energy, and Trust that we are safe in the process and it will come full circle. Resolution happens when we follow the hook to where it first showed up in our lives.
The Hook that I am Healing
I followed the hook to its source last week. I have a relationship that is requiring me to be fully seen and vulnerable, and it scares me spitless. One of the feelings I had noticed was of wanting to throw up. However, I couldn’t seem to find where it hooked. Where was the originating trauma?
A benefit of having someone support you in a healing process is they provide clarity when you feel confused. My self-healing mentor, Summer Bozohora, supported me in this process by witnessing each moment and asking curious questions about what I related to her. This kept the internal energy story moving if I felt uncertain.
First, Notice the Feeling
As I allowed the feeling of wanting to throw up to expand, by noticing it and breathing into the energetic sense of it, it transformed into an image in my mind: a small girl, burrowed into a dark corner, with hands over her head. I was curious about why she was there. (After years of doing work like this, I knew she is my inner child; she is me, but not all of me). She seemed to be crying out, but at the same time muttering to herself in a low voice: “I can’t let anyone see me. I have to stay really small in this corner. Can’t be seen, musn’t let anyone see me.” I watched curiously for a minute. I could see light shining on grass, just a few meters away. Why was she in the dark instead of soaking up the sun?
Then Interact with It, Curiously
It didn’t feel right to make her move into the sun; the dark felt better. So I asked her, “I wonder what would help you feel better?” and reached out a hand to her. She grabbed it, and I pulled her closer, this little child, so scared and alone. Little Me curled up in my lap and I put my arms around her and loved her, and the word came to me: “Attachment.”
Attachment: the entangling of heart strings, face to face, the child received by the caregiver no matter how she shows up. Attachment: the foundation upon which a child finds the courage to be her whole self, because there is love for every version of herself.
This little girl needed attachment to feel safe. So we sat there together, the steadiness and love of the Adult Me, providing the safety of attachment to Little Me.
The hook to this trauma was not one traumatic circumstance. It was the fear of being seen at all—for a little girl who had not attached enough to feel she could show her true self.
There is Always a Need Under the Feeling
When I asked this little girl the question, “What do you need in order to come out into the light?” her answer was immediate and strong:
“I need a fierce champion. I need someone who will show up for me. Who will say what she needs and won’t accept less. Who can be honest, and say that she is scared or having a hard time and be seen just as she is. She shouldn’t have to hide.”
I am grateful there are no limits to the knowledge of our own energy systems. There is a part of us that is always registering our inner state, environment, and the energy around us. It stores this information like a super-computer: it’s always accessible, even if it isn’t automatically provided when we demand the “printout” of conscious thought. But, if we will immerse ourselves into an energetic state, we deeply heal where the feelings come from. Even better, we get to play with that energetic information and try different experiments:
- What would help me to feel safe?
- What does that inner child need?
- How does it feel to express that in this relationship?
- What if I don’t express it? How does that feel?
Playing with Energy Affirms the Action to Take
As I played with the energy that day, I realized that I can be fully seen in this relationship. It will be uncomfortable for a while, and old patterns will tug me backwards. But because I could experiment with different choices, I also felt how intolerable it would be to not express my needs and be my own fierce champion.
If I won’t champion myself, then I retreat once more, and I am that little girl, crying in the corner, hands over her head, alone, afraid, unseen.
I have no choice but to step forward. I don’t want to live in that corner.
The little girl, sun on her face, smiles through happy tears.