Empowerment Through Self Awareness
The case can be made that events in childhood affect Adult outcomes.
The ACE Study is an ongoing collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente. Led by Co-principal Investigators Robert F. Anda, MD, MS, and Vincent J. Felitti, MD, the ACE Study is perhaps the largest scientific research study of its kind, analyzing the relationship between multiple categories of childhood trauma (ACEs), and health and behavioral outcomes later in life.
What’s an ACE?
Growing up experiencing any of the following conditions in the household prior to age 18:
1. Recurrent physical abuse
2. Recurrent emotional abuse
3. Contact sexual abuse
4. An alcohol and/or drug abuser in the household
5. An incarcerated household member
6. Someone who is chronically depressed, mentally ill, institutionalized, or suicidal
7. Mother is treated violently
8. One or no parents
9. Emotional or physical neglect
What’s your ACE score?
Find out more about your score, and the effect of these conditions on future outcomes including smoking, addiction, general health and more. Check out the web site at http://www.acestudy.org.
Did you ever feel stuck between two emotions, or two options with no idea of how to move forward? If so, you are not alone. It happens to most of us at one time or another. So what can be done to get “unstuck”? Last time I explained the “two chair” model that helps get in touch with the reasons and feelings related to each choice.
Hellinger style resolution between two choices looks a lot like the “two chair” method. The difference is in the field. Hellinger’s work relies on people who or objects that represent each option. I prefer people for issues related to choice, so I’ll explain it from that perspective. Feel free to ask questions if you’d like to know more about working with objects.
One client worked in the family business – three generations of business law. Her hobby was dancing. When her dance teacher asked her to turn professional and go on the road, she found the idea captivating. Stuck between loyalty to the family business, and the enticement of professional dancing, I asked her to choose a representative for law and a representative for dance. They stood in front of us at first, and then moved to where they felt comfortable in relation to each other and the client. The representative for law was resolute, turned away from “dance”, and partially away from the client. The representative for dance was exuberant, moving boldly, bumping into “law” and the client at times.
I asked the client to stand in front of “law” and look him in the eye. It was clear from her stance and facial expressions that she was deeply connected to “law”. No words were spoken, though they could have been. Five minutes or more passed before a peace came over the two of them, their faces calm, their shoulders relaxed, their faces neutral or smiling.
I then asked her to look “professional dance” in the eye. “Dance” was beaming, always moving some part of her body. The client stood for a long time, six or seven minutes, looking at “dance”. Twice she looked over at “law” who turned to watch from about three feet away. I noted the client’s posture and her facial expressions, but said nothing aloud so she could focus on her own feelings. Eventually she turned to me and stated, “I got what I needed. Thank you.”
Why does this method work? The client is literally faced with two choices. Somehow, presumably via Sheldrake’s morphic field or Jung’s collective unconscious, the representatives know something about the choice they represent. “Dance” was exuberant, and “law” was resolute. Through these representations, the client was reminded of why she chose law in the first place, and could see why becoming a professional dancer was attractive. The silent dialogue between the representatives and the client allowed her to safely connect with all of her thoughts, feelings and motivations in the face of both choices. As a facilitator, I could bring awareness to her body posture, sensations and breathing if necessary. I could also bring awareness to the repeating pattern of dichotomy (exuberant/resolute) by including representatives for family members had it seemed appropriate.
In the “two chair” method, the participant does the talking, the noticing. A facilitator may or may not be present to observe and report. The Hellinger method requires more people, and space to set up the field, but the feedback of the representatives is constant and the facilitator is available to bring awareness to things that might otherwise be missed. In both methods, awareness and respect of each option brings the client to resolution.
Next time you feel conflicted by a choice or emotions, give one of these methods a try. Your feedback is always welcome.
Did you ever feel stuck between two emotions, or two options with no idea of how to move forward? If so, you are not alone. It happens to most of us at one time or another. So what can be done to get “unstuck”?
A colleague of mine uses the “two chair” approach. Whichever emotion or option has more depth or conviction gets chair one. The second approach gets chair two. Sitting in chair one, make all the statements that support the stronger emotion or option. Then switch to chair two and show you heard what was said in chair one, followed by any reaction you have to what was said. What fears come up? What wasn’t taken into account? Finally, state the case for the second emotion or option. If you feel overpowered by the first option, state that, but make sure option two gets an equal chance to be completely explored. Maybe rebuttal is appropriate. If so, back to chair one, to show you heard chair two’s position, and to state the rebuttal. Keep switching chairs until everything relevant has been spoken. Yes…you are doing this out loud, so notice if you are wimpy, whiny or bullying, and when. This may give you a clue as to why you are feeling stuck.
Why does this work? Hopes and fears lie behind emotions, and emotions drive our choice of options. Getting in touch with the strong fears and the secret hopes allows us to see the whole picture. We can give fear it’s proper place, and give hope a chance. Doing the exercise by yourself gives you the freedom to say everything you need to without fear of judgment. No one is listening but you.
This is the second key…you must listen. By listening to yourself advocate for each option or emotion, you’ll get a sense of what the stronger position is, what’s driven by fear, and where compromise is possible or necessary.
Noticing is key as well. You are watching two sides of your “self”. One is more comfortable to you. One is congruent with how you see yourself, and how you’d like others to see you. One is less so. Since you are exploring the two, not committing to either option, you are free to catch a glimpse of who else you are. Greater self acceptance is right around the corner. Try it, and let me know how it works for you and what you discovered.
If you are looking for a non-verbal approach, stay tuned. Three-dimensional mapping involves more people in the process of looking at emotions or options, but less talk. It is a great way to get a peek at why you’ve been chronically stuck. Resolution, Hellinger style, is the topic of the next blog.
New Year’s Resolutions Revisited
Many of us resolve to eat less, exercise more and visit with friends or family in the coming year. Bert Hellinger looks at resolution as a process that includes truth, order, and acceptance.
As an example, if I am overweight, through three-dimensional mapping we can set up my family of origin and see who could not take sustenance, and who I am loyally “helping” when I overeat. I can share my feelings of helplessness and deprivation with my ancestor who could not find regular work or food during the depression. That ancestor can tell me it was his fate, and not mine, so I am not “helping” anyone when I overindulge. He can tell me how life went on in spite of difficult times and how I am the product of that life. I can be reminded that by living well I honor him, and all my ancestors. In this way I see (and feel in my gut and my soul) that my overeating was done out of love, as well as a connection to those who came before me, and that there are better ways to love and honor my ancestors. In this way I can make sense of my overindulgence, and feel the strength of my family, instead of the emptiness of my belly.
So don’t be too hard on yourself if your getting to resolution is sluggish. Maybe the systemic nervous system of your family has a hand in the habit you’d like to reform, and maybe a wider lens is needed to understand just how your issue with weight, exercise, relationships, or success relates to love and loyalty. A constellation could be just the thing to bring you a new perspective and lasting resolution in the New Year, so happy 2011!
Secrets, tragedy, and estrangement are common fare in most families. Family Constellation work is an uncommon way, at least here in the United States, to reframe the family dynamics so resolutions can be found and reconciliation can be forged.
What if you could see the events that shaped your ancestors beliefs and created the behaviors that push you away? What if, instead of taking their behavior personally, you could see that they are drawn toward death, stuck in fear, or filled with anger that seems to have no end? What if you could also see how this came to be and what needs to change so everyone can breathe and be at peace?
There is a way. In a Family Constellation Workshop, representatives stand in for family members who are relevant but may be troubled, ill, victimized or even dead. Others stand in for spouses, siblings, and parents. As each finds their place in relation to other members, the energy of each relationship and that of the whole is illuminated. Patterns that repeat themselves are clear, hidden loyalties come to light, and ways of loving that are harmful suddenly make some sort of sense. From this springs resolution. Secrets are spoken aloud, tragedies are acknowledged, and unhealthy ways of loving are reviewed and re-ordered. Suddenly everyone has a place in the family, and that place supports each member.
Most often people say the work brought them a peace they had never known before. Others say the work transformed their relationship with someone they love – a sibling, parent, spouse or child. Others change their relationship to abundance, money, living well, loving well. No one leaves unchanged.
For more information on upcoming workshops in the San Diego area, see the events page. If you prefer a workshop in Texas, Chicago or St Louis, please email me at Tina@Phasetransition.biz for links to upcoming workshops across the United States.