Wounds on the Level of Self
I have not met a human being that has not had woundings around the level of self. When I am not allowed to be me, I send in patterns of responding to the world in order to deal with dilemmas that I face. If I am lucky, my specific set of patterns allow me to skate through the world without autonomy and a sense of self with adequate coping mechanisms that allow me to come off as high functioning. If we are lucky, we’ve highly adaptive coping mechanisms that allow us to navigate life without ever owning who we are. If we are part of the other third of humanity, we’ve inherited patterns of behaving and viewing the world that set us up for depression and anxiety. Since therapy is still a little bit taboo and expensive, people usually reach out to upgrade their human experience only if they are in the second group. Both groups would benefit by learning how to live from their built in organic selves that have a bodily felt sense access to their worthiness, voice, and boundaries.
The work that I find effective in transforming people with this category of wounding is helping the client gain awareness of the part of them that already is empowered and worthy. To learn how to sort between their actual organic core selves and the adaptive / maladaptive patterns they’ve inherited. A lot of therapeutic modalities (which as a psychotherapist I have found meaningful) focus on providing a “corrective emotional experience” for the wounded part of the person. I still do this with clients and find that it is sometimes appropriate and helpful. However, what is more helpful is to help the client not use that part of their brain that “got wounded”. If we stop using the neuropathways in our brain that are organized around wounding and start using the part of our brain that knows we are worthwhile and that is who I am, then all of reality is experienced differently. Instead of fixing the maladaptive thought patterns, we focus on helping client be aware of, be committed to living in, and choose to experience reality through their organic self. Instead of learning how to not run through stoplights, we are learning what it means to drive a car, or to be the car. Instead of trying to fix our distorted patterns of behaving that set us up for anxiety and depression, we learn to identify those selves, say “hi” to them with compassion, and remind them that we are worthy of contact and connection. We then practice accessing our already worthwhile states. After we are in the preferred state, we learn how to identify our “I am” voice as that state. Instead of seeing myself as a byproduct of passing experiences, I am the one who knows that I am worthy. And from that worthy state of being, who is me, and whom I have the ability to choose to be, I engage the imperfect world. It is as if the client has worn distorted goggles, then learns to take them off and learns how to see the world from their own eyes. Only after the goggles are off, do we discover that we already had sufficient vision.
It is as if we put scratched up desert storm glasses on to prevent our eyes from getting scratched. And then since they were so useful in that particular storm, we put those goggles on everytime there was a change in weather. And now, we are so used to having those goggles on that we keep them on inside, when there are not storms, and when we are driving. Our vision is blurred from these scratched up glasses, but we’ve a memory of them being helpful, so we use them over and over again. We forget that our eyes are capable of seeing. This type of therapy, we notice our deep thought patterns that make us pull to put our scratched up goggles on. We forget we are able to see and that vision is already hard wired into us.
He who has eyes, let him see. Perhaps Jesus was referring to that innate part of us that is capable of being engaged and honest in the world is already biologically (and spiritually) wired into us.
If that is the preferred way that people change, then what the hell happens in other types of therapy, anyway?
In behavioral therapy, clients are told to do things differently. If they do things differently, then they will feel differently because people will start responding to them differently.