Often in my work with clients we talk about resolution of layers of trauma. Our work together is to explore and metabolize the layers of trauma and pain held in the body and psyche. The process seems to often start at the gross layer, an extreme desire to fight or run, a longing to cry or rage. These opening layers are themes that continue to show up as the layers are worked through. For example, someone may have gotten into a conflict with their boss and the impulse in the body was to shrink and the presenting behavior is to placate their boss. As my client goes through the shrinking and placation impulses access to the anger underneath emerges, which often leads to creative and self-affirming resources. Then as we go deeper through subsequent sessions the same shrinking and placating shows up in a more intimate relationship with their partner. We find anger or rage underneath that behavior, and then some grief and/or hopelessness under the anger.
If we can continue to explore this shrinking and placation it may lead us to an earlier place. A very young self-part where the behavior and belief that, “I must shrink to be safe” originated. Often there was a caregiver or situation that was overwhelming to the young child and, for safety and survival, the child learned to pull into themselves. I often describe this process as being one of evolutionary wisdom. Better to cut your losses and retreat inwards then risk psychic annihilation by continuing to connect to an unpredictable, or abusive, caregiver.
Even though exploring this deep place in the psyche is wrought with booby traps, dissociation, and repressed memory the benefits are extraordinary. The fuel, which perpetuates painful current life experiences, can be brought home into the body and used as vital life force energy. The same energy when used and integrated as life force energy can be a creative force for growth and self-trust. But when it is dissociated and rejected it emerges as a feral animal scrambling for survival at any cost.
The choice is often an easy one to see: explore the deeper causes and conditions of your current suffering, or keep trying to put out the fires of your everyday life not addressing the piping hot coals underneath that fuel your current pain. While it can be obvious that deeper issues are the fuel for the pain in your life, it is not always easy to decide to look at deeper causes and conditions. Thankfully life and love will never give up on us, we will continue to be drawn to the old wounds longing for our attention. The pain will become great enough that we will move into more and more relationship to the old pain so that it may come to resolution. But rather than dragging it out, why not say yes to what arises, choose a guide to help you, and become an active participant in your growth and healing. It will save you a lot of suffering and time!