I’ve been promising a post to a few of my clients for a couple weeks now. It’s a post devoted to the clients who are finding themselves at a new phase of the therapy, a phase that is bringing them into awareness of deeper places within themselves. This new awareness and this new welcoming of parts of themselves can be exhilarating, disorienting, lovely, confusing, joyful, jarring — all in the same day or week!
There are common themes and questions I’m hearing from the clients who are in the midst of this work. So here is my beginning idea of a guide for you to read — to help you to understand what’s happening, to help you know what to expect, and to help normalize any weird feelings and developments.
1. Don’t expect to have lots of words or to know the meaning around all of it.
Several of my usually articulate and verbal clients are finding themselves in some new places inside. Sometimes, there aren’t lots of words for these places — not at first, and sometimes, not at all. This is part of what happens when you get in touch with young stuff within you, or stuff that you’ve never really had acknowledged. The new feelings come first, and the words and the meaning come later. This is new if you’re used to talking a lot and analyzing things extensively. For now, it’s okay to let the analysis go. Let your mind do what your mind does, but also let yourself notice and welcome feelings, without trying to force yourself to come up with a meaning or a reason for them!
2. Honor the ebb and flow of emotions.
When you’re doing this kind of work in therapy of welcoming parts of yourself that you haven’t been in touch with, there is a natural rise and fall of emotions and feelings. This ebb and flow is part of taking in new information, new ways of being within yourself, and new ways of being present in the world. Sometimes, it will feel wonderful, safe, and like you’ve found this delightful home inside yourself. At other times, it may feel like things go kinda blank inside, or like you’re momentarily self-conscious or a little disoriented. It’s all part of the change process. Just let it happen! You don’t take in a new way of being all at once. If you’ve seen a baby learning to walk, you know that it is not a straight, smooth, or linear progression. Sometimes, you might feel more sure footed with your healing, and some moments, you may feel like you’re falling on your face, or it’s all a bit confusing. Let all those feelings be.
3. Expect changes in areas you weren’t expecting them in.
When you start shifting foundational stuff within you, the reverberations from that work can go on for a long time, and can move in all kinds of directions. You may have started out wanting to work on a fear within yourself, and now, you’re finding yourself rediscovering a hobby, noticing new potential in relationships, or having novel spiritual experiences. When you do this kind of change work, it’s like you start to have a sense of more room within you. And this space starts to fill with other things! You also may notice that some of your old behaviors no longer quite fit. Let yourself honor reverberations.
4. Be gentle with yourself and notice your wants and needs.
As you’re getting in touch with new possibilities within you and in your world, you may find that you want a bit more rest, or more nurturing of some sort. You may find that you want more physical activity, or less. You may even notice different food preferences than you’ve been aware of — or other changes in your body. Profound change affects your subconscious desires, and it affects you deeply at a body level. So notice your body’s signals, and take care with them.
5. Expect that new layers of healing that want to happen will surface. This may feel like going backwards, but it’s really indicative of how far you’re coming.
Very often, a client will experience a major shift in some area of her feelings or her life. And then, she’ll start noticing another layer of feeling or struggle, and it might look bigger than it used to. Sometimes the feeling when this happens is something like, “Oh, crap. I thought I’d made all this progress, but here I am struggling with this same old thing, and even worse!”
That’s the feeling. It’s not quite the whole reality, though. Think of if you were getting your house repainted or remodeled. And 3/4 of it is all done. You marvel at how wonderful that 3/4 of the house looks. You enjoy the paint color, and all the changes. And then you walk to the other quarter of the house that hasn’t yet been remodeled. And it always looked okay before, but now it looks drabber than it ever has! You’re experiencing a sense of contrast between what’s changed and what hasn’t. You’ve been awakening a new sense of possibility lately, and that makes you look at your life and your feelings with new hope. New hope can feel a lot like discouragement or like going backwards. But it’s quite the opposite!
Let me know if there are other questions you’re having or developments you’re noticing as you do this deep work.
And also allow yourself to smell the flowers, to have times just to rest, relax, and be delightfully human! It’s like you’re learning new ways to be with yourself, and with the world. It’s an amazing process — just let it evolve and take its course! It’s a bit like with gardening — you don’t want to check every minute or hour to see if the seeds you’ve planted have grown yet — that can be discouraging. Just keep watering and nurturing those seeds, and you’ll be delighted with what grows out of this over time — perhaps without you even being consciously aware!
(By the way, other people will often notice the changes more than you will, which is why probably every client of mine who’s reading this article thinks this is really written for someone else who is really changing!)
I look forward to seeing you all soon!
And if you’re not a current client or you’re unsure of what I’m talking about with this “transformation” talk, but it sounds intriguing, feel free to drop me a line.
Recent trainings and shifts in how I do therapy with clients is leading to some profound differences for some people, so much that it was time to write a guide to this kind of deep transformation.