In Trouble? Heal Your Way Out

Van GoghYes, you can find yourself on the verge of or actually in a destructive scenario and heal your way out.    * picture information see below.
Do you have the same old fight using the same old words while feeling the same old engulfing passions? Perhaps,  the people you engage with are different people but the scenarios and feelings are almost identical.

Your boyfriend or partner or spouse (or third such person in your life) is being impossible, cruel, thoughtless, and inconsiderate yet again. You are broken hearted or bereft or furious or pleading or raging with fury yet again. You feel you are once more in the inevitable emotional place that is all too familiar while this intimate of yours proves to you that relationships don't change and that all intimates are alike.

They are NOT all alike. But the situation in which you find yourself is almost identical to where you've been before. Why does this repeat in your life and how can you stop it?

Well, maybe it's not a situation you stop. It may well be a situation from which you've got to heal your way out.

If you are still reading, this is a good sign. It means you can contemplate the possibility that something unfamiliar may be possible. You may feel a rigidity in your mind and body that says, “No!” yet summon up strength to be patient and still as you consider that other possibilities might exist.

Acting out your unconscious means that you are unaware of what's really going on with you. You have no openness to options. When unconscious scenarios take hold, you believe they are in the here and now and real. You believe your perceptions. You run with your emotions. Other people do not understand you or are caught in their own unconscious stories if they repeatedly act out with you.

Your way out is to become aware of the authentic here and now and respond with intelligence, creativity and fresh awareness.

Easy to say. This is almost impossible when you are caught because you are in terrific stress. 

Your stress may come from believing you are in a situation similar to what you experienced in your history. Your stress may come from a real or perceived threat in the present.

Most of us, under intense and inescapable stress, resort to past behaviors and thought processes that gave us real or promised relief. If you have any degree of eating disorder recovery you know that certain situations are triggering. You respond by eating or starving or hitting the treadmill or going into rages or blaming (yourself or others) or cowering and hiding like a frightened child.

When you are in this kind of stress, your mind has little or no access to open space where you can think or feel your way to new ways to respond.

An example that comes to my mind is when I travel in the United Kingdom. I am most terrified during the first few moments when I am behind the wheel of a car and driving on the left side of the road. But, I am conscious. I am aware. I am thoughtful. I understand my feelings. And so I can drive.

But, in an emergency, when a truck is heading straight for me from the opposite direction, my adrenaline rises. I'm in an immediate crisis situation. I have to respond fast. All my being wants to turn the steering wheel hard to the right, to the safety of familiar and past scenarios. In the U.K. that would plunge me into ongoing traffic. I must keep my wits about me, stay present in the authentic here and now, and pull to what my body cells are screaming means instant death as I turn hard to the left.

My mind, my brain, my muscle memory has lifelong learning based on driving on the right. I have a thread of awareness that shouts inside my head, "You're in Ireland! Pull to the left!"

If you don't have that thread of awareness when you are caught in a stressful situation, you will pull to what is familiar. You won't have the ability to work your way to authentic awareness and so you can be caught in an old scenario.

Healing your way out involves:

  • Recognize the familiar situation.
  • Recognize that you are about to reach or have already reached an acting out mode. (I had a patient who would say, “I’m feeling a bit bingey.” She knew when she was nearing an acting out state of mind. Don’t you?
  • Hard part: give yourself space, catch hold of a thread that lets you question and re-evaluate your intended speech or action (regardless of what you may be feeling).
  • Use the thread to hold you in the open space.
  • Ask yourself, “Where am I now?”
  • You most likely cannot answer this question. But asking it opens you to more possibilities. You are not where you thought you were. Something else is happening.
  • Walk, write, dance, sing, draw, sculpt. Improvise with your mind or body or both.
  • Bring your mind and attention to an object or image and describe it.
While you are in the stressed state and simultaneously hold to a thread of new possibilities you are taking a tiny step into new awareness. You have an opportunity to find out what is really going on with you rather than play out an old scenario that’s pulling you to the right in a left lane world.

Be brave with yourself. Allow yourself to pull out of the old scenario, no matter how right or righteous you feel and how familiar the scenario.

This is how you heal yourself out of these unconscious booby traps and get yourself free.

There's much to say about the details healing yourself out.  The general plan is clear, but how it plays out for each individual is unique. Please share your questions and stories. It's your real life experiences that give the method meaning.

* Van Gogh's painting of Prisoners' Round
I saw this at the Los Angeles County Art Museum.  The original is far more powerful than the graphic.  I saw the prisoners, mindless and lost in dull, repetitive routine, body and soul.  Yet I also saw sunlight, the light of day streaming into the tower.  The light came in at an angle. No prisoner looked up to see it, intent as they were on their travels through their endless circling of the same space and same day for days or years or a lifetime.
It would take a pause and a look in a new direction to discover they were in prison and that another world existed. That is all that is required to begin to move toward freedom. But, they would have to leave the familiar, leave the protection of the walls and venture out of of the darkness into a new and unknown world where their repetetive and dull way of living would end. 


0 # I guess patience is keymylifex2 2013-02-13 19:46
I have been in a pretty strange place lately. I was really angry with some other people about some things that led me to stop communicating on this site for a while...I have been angry with myself for somethings I wont go into right now.  I have not been very productive in therapy for several sessions. And now, I am binging and purging activity that I had stopped for so long.  I catch myself remembering how awful I felt before when I was engaging in such behavior. How much time and secrecy it much shame is involved.  I look back over the past year to see how my behaviors slipped from restricting to my current behaviors.  I am not allowing myself to feel the emotions that are behind the actions, I guess. I often don't get to the "where am I now question", because I am so busy defeating myself with negative thoughts and actions, familiar places, if you will. I know that I have been avoiding talking about my abuse in therapy because I feel that I should just let it go.  That perhaps it shouldnt affect me anymore. i am ashamed that it still affects me.  my mind says "get over it already".  My heart is ripping at the same time. I am afraid to keep talking about my abuse to my therapist.  I keep thinking that maybe she doesnt want to hear about it anymore.  (although, when I really think about how little i do talk about it, she would probably pounce on the opportunity). I am afraid to tell her that i am purging again. I am also abusing diet pills. I am afraid she will take away my anxiety medication..she has hinted that she would not give me something for anxiety when I am "knowingly" taking something that increases my anxiety.  but i feel desperate. anyway, I am not trying to be negative and perhaps I have said too much and/or spoke of things I should not talk about.  i know I am in an acting out mode. I have been in one for over a month now. I guess i need to figure out how to reign myself in and how to find this awareness (and stay with it).
0 # patience is the keypinkjoanna 2013-02-13 23:06
Patience and kindness are keys, tracy.  You are starting to answer the question you say you don't ask, "Where am I now?"

Please know that struggling with your issues and relationships is part of recovery work.  Thank you for writing, and please share with your therapist.  You might consider showing her the letter you wrote here.  That might help both of you, give you a bridge.

warm regards,

0 # I know I upset youshh 2013-02-14 02:34

Tracy, I know I upset you, but I had to do what I needed to do. I'm still fond of you, I still admire your determination and always send good vibes to will you along on your journey, and if you want to contact me (directly) to talk over how I made you feel and stuff, if you think it will help you to lay things to rest, then I am always around, and always pleased to hear from you.

It's really good to see you back on here!

S xx

0 # i am finemylifex2 2013-02-14 03:15
I am fine. I have let certain things go.  My relapse has only to do with other things that are going on in my life.  At any rate, I take full responsiblity for my relapses. I hope no one on here feels I was directing this toward anyone or anything to do with this site.  It mostly has to do with my past stuff and allowing myself to gain more weight than I feel I can handle. That's all.
0 # :-)shh 2013-02-14 03:59

Just don't be too harsh on yourself!

I know it's second nature to some of us to need everyone to think that everything's okay, and to want to take responsibility for everything ourselves, sometimes believing that if we'd acted differently or if we could just do x, y and z then things would be different. I do it - or did do it  - no, I still do it sometimes, maybe that's why I'm stuck in a relapse momet too!


You must login to post comments

Who's Online

We have 52 guests and no members online

Copyright © 2022