Finding your core shames and pains Deepening emotional mastery
his is a vital follow up to the emotional mastery series, and deals mainly with the big sorrows and pains.
In the original series, I described the basic process of clearing out negative emotions by truly feeling and embracing them. What if it doesn’t work? What if they return?
Many pains run deeper than you might think, and require extra work to uncover and heal. If we don’t go deep enough, they will arise again and again, sometimes after a period of relief. This adds to the frustration and makes you think that it’s not working. Even worse, sometimes they return even stronger! Rest assured, though, that they only feel this way. If you have done it right, they are gone permanently, but older and stronger issues have risen. The purging process remains the same, but what we purge changes.
So: I present to you a few methods to deepen your mastery of negative emotions. How do we uncover the deepest core pains?
A brief recap
Firstly, you would need to have read the original series, in particular the first post on emotional mastery, and the final post on loving and letting go. This post also builds on the second post of the series, the deepest issues. In that post, I gave the example of an abusive client, and I’ll copy and paste it here:
One of the worst pains I had to purge was caused by an abusive client. A man rang me up in my web design business once, and asked for a draft for free. Being young and stupid, I agreed, and did my best for him at no charge. I figured the most I could lose was a few hours of work.
After I finished the draft, I emailed it to him. He didn’t reply to my email. A second email; no reply as well. I assumed the mails had gotten lost in the ether, and after a few days I rang him up to ask if he had received them. And the moment he picked up the phone, he abused me like I had raped his mother or something simply because he didn’t like my free draft. The memory and the resulting pain tortured me daily for nearly 2 years, although I didn’t know why it didn’t mean much when looked at objectively.
The first time I purged this pain, I dealt with his verbal insults only. But the pain remained. After some soul-searching, I realised the pain also stemmed from a feeling of betrayal. So I purged that, and I was free for a day or two. Then the memory returned.
Why? The pains this incident caused went much deeper. One abusive tirade on the phone triggered so many different issues. It shocked me how five minutes of verbal abuse can hurt me for years. Other people have insulted me before, and they bothered me for minutes at most. So recently I dug deep to clear them out – and here are the techniques I used.
First, let me say that this is not easy work. It will take much time, honesty, and courage. This pain brought up so many issues that took me weeks to purge. But the results will be freedom at last.
You will also need a journal to write in. Typing is not a good idea, for you will be spewing words out fast, over several different sheets, and sometimes images and other scribbles.
I would also like to throw in a warning, repeated from the first post. I am not a substitute for a trained professional if you need serious help, please find one. I cannot be held responsible in any way for anything that happens. Lastly, many emotional issues can cause physical responses – dizziness, pounding hearts, tingling, the list goes on. If you have serious physical responses, please consider seeing a family doctor before confronting your emotions. Stop immediately if anything gets too uncomfortable.
The Stream of Consciousness
To begin, mentally bring up the event or person that you want to purge.
Then simply begin writing. If your issue is causing a lot of pain, this will come easily. Write anything that comes to mind. Don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense just let your hands go. Don’t censor yourself, don’t try to be polite, or be spiritual. Let yourself be as childish, hurt, spiteful, sad, or vulnerable as you can. In fact, the more spiteful and childish, the better. Let yourself swear and curse as much as you want.
Keep going, even if you write rubbish, or about unrelated issues. Sometimes your mind wanders or repeats itself. That’s normal. Underneath these thoughts are the hidden gems and you have to find each one.
It is also possible that you might stream to other events. That’s normal too. I began by cursing out the abusive client, and then I somehow streamed into cursing out an ex-girlfriend. Why? The pain these two people caused had touched the same core beliefs.
Don’t worry if your stream of consciousness takes forever and goes on for pages. It’s therapeutic. Stop only when you genuinely run out of things to say.
It is vital that you are as honest and courageous as you can be. This is the time to let your old hurts and pains out of the dungeons of your psyche. Don’t censor yourself, or let your pride take over. I cannot state this enough. Why? One of my core issues was a sense of shame about my work – which my pride refused to let me admit – and it turned out to be the final “building block” that made up my pain.
Next, are you writing this all down, as suggested? This is important, too another danger is having your logical mind take over.
The sense of shame I had was blocked also by my logical mind. Every client except one or two (such as this abusive one) had loved my work, and my mind reminded me of it constantly. “Nonsense!” My mind would step in. “Why are you ashamed? John loved your work, Tanya was gushing over it. What shame? Don’t be stupid!”
This blocked me from recognizing my shame, which is a prerequisite to healing it with love. Writing it down, on the other hand, means that it streamed out too fast for my logical mind to step in. Whats on paper is less likely to be distorted.
Lastly, if you have any memories that arise, write them down on a separate piece of paper, any memories that might arise. Just keep writing until you have nothing left to write.
Now, if you have run out of steam with your stream (ooh, it rhymes!), time for the next step. Keep your situation or person in mind, and ask yourself these questions. Again, let it all stream out without any form of censoring.
- Why are you upset?
- What do you want from the situation or person?
- What do you want to do to the situation or person?
- What are you ashamed of?
- What do you want to hide from others?
- What do you want others to think of you?
These are all questions that can dig out a few more of your core beliefs, or provide pointers to the deepest issues.
Asking yourself what you want from the person also sheds some important insights, and again shows the importance of self-honesty. Initially, what I wanted was superficial I wanted him to suffer and I wanted revenge. When I set my pride and logical mind aside, though, I realised what I had really wanted was for him to like and approve of me.
The last question also needs some explanation. If you want others to think that you are confident, for example, it can sometimes mean that you have a deep belief that you are not confident enough.
With this step complete, it’s time to analyse what you’ve written. See if you can uncover any patterns in your stream a recurring theme of some sort, or a particular word that keeps coming up.
It is helpful to repeat the above a few times. You’ll be surprised at what is uncovered with repeated questioning.
Let’s go even deeper. These are the deepest core issues that most of us have, even if we seem outwardly confident. Ask yourself – does the event or person trigger any of these core issues? Let your heart answer, not your mind.
- A deep feeling of not being good enough.
- A deep feeling of not being worthy of love or approval.
- A deep feeling of not being safe.
- A deep feeling of just something being wrong.
- A deep fear of losing someone or of being alone.
These are just examples. There are many variations, such as a deep feeling that you might have wasted your life, or that you are alone in a cold alien world. Think of your own situation, are there any more? Remember that we can’t leave any stones unturned. Write them all down.
Honesty and courage is especially important here. As mentioned, my pride got in the way many times. Also note that these core issues sometimes don’t make sense. This client also triggered a feeling of rejection, and not unworthiness. These were very deep issues that you wouldn’t think a work situation would trigger, but it did.
What about the memories? If you have written those down, analyse those memories in the same way. They are fantastic pointers to the depths of your psyche.
Done? Next, let’s dig out even more memories beyond the ones that arise spontaneously. Ask yourself, what does this event remind you of? Write that memory down, if any arises, and ask yourself the same question. Repeat until no memories arise.
One of my memories was of being in a big room, alone, as a tiny baby. It was just an image, but the walls and ceilings loomed above me, and I felt terribly alone and abandoned. I wanted to cry, but I didn’t – I get the feeling that no-one would have come anyway.
Again, this is where you have to turn off the logical mind. I don’t know why I had this memory or this sense of abandonment, insecurity, and loneliness – my parents had doted on me and spoilt me as child. But the “why” doesn’t matter – all that matters is that we have this pain and we have to heal it.
How did this memory relate to my client? Being ignored by him after the free draft (stemming from the need for approval), had somehow triggered this feeling of abandonment.
And that means?
This is perhaps one of the most powerful questions I used. This allowed me to see what really lay behind my memories and issues. With all your pains and memories, dug up from the previous steps, ask yourself – “And that means?”
What arises to meet that? Another answer, another belief, another memory? Question that too. What does that mean? Keep going in this manner, until you can’t go any further.
Who’s doing it to who?
At some point you’ll realise that everything ultimately comes back to you. Every emotional (not physical) pain that arises ultimately stems from something inside you. No-one and nothing can hurt you without your agreement.
What do I mean? Let’s say your best friend, Samuel, came up to you and shouted at you – “Your hair is so green that it is hideous. You are worthless, you are rubbish, I hate you!” But your hair is black. What is your reaction? Would you be upset? Definitely not – it is something wrong with Sam, not you. Maybe he’s going colour-blind.
But what if you hold a deep sense of insecurity about your hair? What if deep down inside, you do have a feeling that your hair is hideous – that it’s green underneath the black? That’s when something arises inside you to meet that insult, and that results in the pain and anger and the depression. Your goal, with this post, is to go deep enough to find these hidden root fears.
Eventually, you’ll find that it isn’t Samuel hating you, it only seems that way. You are hating yourself because of your hair. All rejection is self-rejection. All hatred is self-hatred. Do you get how important this is? Please think deeply on it.
What to do?
What, then, do you do with the deepest core issues once you have uncovered them? Purge them. Sit with them. Let it bring up the sorrow and pain to heal and love. Let it take as long as it needs.
I finally got to the root of the problems – a deep sense of rejection, shame, unworthiness, and self-abuse. I sat with all those feelings, and I surrounded them with love. I talked to those emotions. I promised them that I would never reject them again, that there is nothing to be ashamed of. I promised them that I would love them from now on, and never neglect them again.
You can reread the list of shames and beliefs that you have uncovered several times in the same sitting, or whenever you have time. Keep the stream of consciousness, the answers to the questions, everything. Reread those too.
Let all the emotions flow from reading. Why do they cause a reaction? They’re just words on a page – there is something inside you, a pain, a shame, an open wound that is arising to meet it. There will come a time those memories and words don’t affect you any more, but you have to work at it. Be thorough read and feel each individual phrase or word.
Keep your journal, and read it again after some time has passed. If your wounds are deep, redo the exercises in this post again after a day or two has passed. You might find that new beliefs have arisen. Plus, this is a skill that you need practice with to improve.
Also, it is possible that your feelings towards the same event will change after you’ve cleared out lower level emotions. My main emotion around the abusive client was hurt and betrayal, but after a few days, it became anger, and after I cleared out my anger, it became pride. Sometimes it will fall back into hurt and betrayal, but that’s okay too.
The obstacle of anger
One last section here Anger. This is so important it gets its own section.
Firstly, please understand there are levels of emotions, each with different amounts of available energy. The lowest form, for example, is helplessness and depression, characterized by a lack of energy and motivation. As we clear out these states and move up the ladder, our energy begins to rise. One of these levels is anger, and that’s when the problems start.
The common mistake is to be afraid of this anger. Sometimes the people around you play a part by trying to calm you down. This can mean you drop back below anger, which somehow feels safer because you have less energy. The people around you might keep you this way because they feel less threatened. But anger is something you have to push past upwards until you hit the positive emotions.
Anger is nothing to be afraid of, nothing to be repressed. Remember the “actionless” purging discussed in the original emotional mastery post. Feeling your anger does not mean you have to hit out or shout at someone. Sit with your anger, purge that, until you rise past it.
Next up will be a post, full of odds and ends on the emotional mastery series. Most of these came from reader questions, so if you have any questions please leave a comment and I’ll address them in the next post! Stay tuned!