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Loss and grieving: Descending into the underworld

The way ahead

 

One of the fundamental things I learned as a therapist is to avoid (as much as possible) saying “I know how you feel.” Because we never do. Not really. Even if we have lived through apparently similar events, we would have experienced them differently and invested them with different meanings, unique for us. More and more, I think that each person is like an entire world on their own. Through empathy and love we can glimpse something of that world but never fully inhabit it.

Yet in our daily interactions we constantly brush away the attempts of another person to share with us what is happening in her or his inner world. Instead of staying with that person and inviting them to tell us more we tend to respond ‘Oh yes, such and such thing has happened to me (or to my friend/colleague/relative).’

This especially applies to situations when somebody shares with us their distress. It is very difficult for us to stay with the other’s discomfort because of the uncomfortable feelings it induces in us. So we feel the urge to get rid of our discomfort by ‘fixing’ it for the other person. And ‘fixing’ may involve advice, generalization, switching the subject or issuing a statement on how we should or shouldn’t feel in certain types of situation.

Grid on grief

While these kinds of interventions and responses are unhelpful in all situations, they are particularly hurtful and even harmful when it comes to grief. As a therapist, I also work with people who have suffered bereavement of some kind. For most of them, their recovery was impeded by the externally (or internally) imposed assumptions on how the process of grieving is supposed to unfold. These assumptions included specific time limits as well as the hierarchy of losses, for example: grieving over a grandparent ‘should’ take less time than grieving over a parent; and grieving over a pet for more than a couple of weeks is ridiculous.

Entertaining such assumptions results in us getting stuck and locked in pain. We try to fight it, to suppress it, to ignore it, and all these efforts drain our energy while the pain is still there, not moving anywhere and we are not moving anywhere. And then it begins to get worse as we begin to feel frustrated with ourselves, powerless and hopeless of finding the way forward.

What we need to do in order to get unstuck and move forward is to acknowledge the pain and allow ourselves to experience it and process it in the way that is natural to us. To allow it to flow and to go with the flow. It sounds very simple, but is much easier said than done. There are many things that get in the way. One of them is that we may be afraid of the pain, afraid that it will engulf us and we will drown in it. Another is what I have already mentioned: that we have many preconceived ideas about grieving and how we ‘should’ deal with it. (I put ‘should’ in quote marks because really there are not and cannot be any ‘shoulds’ with regard to feelings.)

Universal within personal

There are many books and articles written on grief. Some authors, like Kübler-Ross, identify distinct stages of grief (such as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance). It is not my purpose to try and replicate their efforts here or summarize their work. What I want to do is to share with you my personal meaning of grief. How I came to make sense of it for myself.

I said in the beginning that nobody can understand completely what the other person is going through, yet there is also an element of the universal in our individual experiences as human beings. Without that universal dimension, empathy wouldn’t be possible and we wouldn’t be able to respond to poetry, literature, music. So I hope that perhaps what I’ve got to say will resonate with you in some way, maybe stir some thoughts and invite a reflection that will help to unlock new personal meanings for you.

The loss

Grief and grieving are the names to describe an internal experience that accompanies a loss. Any loss. It could be a loss of a person who has been close to us and died. It could be a loss of a person who has been close to us and the relationship broke down. It could be a loss of a cat, a dog, a bird. A favourite toy (for children). An object of sentimental value. It could be a loss of a part of our body or bodily function through an accident or illness.

It could also be a loss of a hope, of possibilities (past and future), a loss of a fantasy or a dream or a loss of self-identity. These latter types of loss are rarely considered compared to losses through death or separation, yet they are as real and can be as painful as the former.

What is common to all type of loss is that we lose something that has been an integral part of us, of our being. Whether losing it and letting go of it may help us grow and develop in new ways is a different question. The process is painful and, as I came to perceive it, it is an experience of a partial dying. It is as if a part of our soul (or heart) dies within us. And so we are split. Part of us remains in the realm of living while another part has passed away to the world behind the veil.

How can we live with this split? How can we get on with the daily tasks when our being has literally been torn apart? We want to follow our lost part, to find it, to bring it back.

Descending into the underworld

For me, the ancient Greek myth about Orpheus expresses this anguish and the longing to be reunited with our lost part most evocatively. When his beloved wife Eurydice died after being bitten by a viper, Orpheus followed her into the underworld. He poured his grief into music and song with such penetrating power that it has touched the hearts of the very rulers of the realm of shadows and they agreed to let him take Eurydice back…

What happened in the second half of the story is a metaphor for another kind of challenge and I may write about it some other time. What I am trying to express here is that it is both normal and natural to undertake Orpheus’s journey into the underworld. In fact, I find it necessary. It is a way of paying a tribute to and honoring that person, or pet, or dream that used to be an intrinsic part of our being. And also honoring that part of us that has died with their departure. It is a way of saying how much it meant to us, how much we value it. It is an equivalent to mourning ceremonies, but performed internally. And they have very profound meaning.

As I said in the beginning, there are no set rules on how one grieves. Very often grief comes and goes in waves and we may undertake Orpheus’s journey more than once. It’s okay. It brings solace to one’s soul as there – in the underworld – it is temporarily reunited with the lost beloved.

 

“I want to be heard!” The art and power of empathic listening

In an old Russian film about schoolchildren, 14-year-olds are being asked to write an essay about happiness. One boy scandalizes all the teachers by writing only one sentence: “Happiness is when you are being understood.” This phrase stayed with me since I have first watched the film as a teenager, and later on. It resonated with me. I too dreamed of being understood. My inner life was so intense that I felt an overwhelming need to share it, to show somebody my world…

But what does it mean to be understood? Can we ever fully understand another person? Can we really step into their shoes and experience their world – colours, sounds, pain and joy – as they experience it? This would mean becoming the other person, and although such a fusion of minds could perhaps be experienced in occasional exalted moments, this is an exception rather than the everyday reality. In reality, I believe, the closest to understanding the other would be hearing the other. Hearing with full presence and desire to understand as closely as you can what is it the person is trying to communicate to you. The message may be – and often is – hidden in-between the words, in a tone of a voice, in a twinkle of the eyes, in the posture of a person, so you need to listen very intently and closely.

Such type of listening is extremely rare. Think about conversations with your friends. Most often we talk over each other. The moment a friend mentions something that happened to him or her our associative memory links it to a similar event that happened to us and we get impatient to talk about it, so we don’t register much of what our friend is saying any more. Or we intercept and start speaking of ourselves. So many of our conversations resemble this:

“You know, I had an accident last week – I slipped when running after a bus and broke my wrist.”
“Oh, no, how awful!”
“Yes, I didn’t think it was something serious at first and didn’t go straight to the hospital, and by night my arm was swollen and terribly painful.”
“Yes, this happened to me when I was 12: I broke my leg falling from a bike and we only went to the hospital the following day. I spent the whole night nursing my leg and trying not to cry. But I did cry when they put cast on my leg! It was during summer holidays, by the seaside, and I was totally devastated that I had to lounge on the beach, bored, while all other kids were swimming and having fun.”

This is the story I used to tell when people spoke to me about their broken limbs. But haven’t we all been on both sides of such a conversation? It is almost as if we are being perpetually trapped in the vicious circle of impatience to talk and the frustration of not being listened to and heard. Then how do we break this cycle? I believe it can only happen intentionally and when we become aware of what is going on for us in a conversation. To listen empathically we need to be able to suspend our desire to express ourselves and give our full attention to another person. As a counsellor I can testify that it is not as difficult as it seems. Counsellors are not different from other people, but when you enter a therapy room you bracket out – intentionally and as far as you can – your own stuff and dedicate your attention to the person you are working with. Once the decision is made that you are not going to use this space for talking about yourself, it becomes reasonably easy to focus on your conversation partner.

Another common challenge on the way of empathic listening is the urge to give advice trying to “fix” either our friends or their situation. Although, very occasionally, our constructive suggestions may be taken onboard, most usually unsolicited advice elicits resistance or even offence. Even though I have already been working as a therapist and have been aware of the importance of non-judgemental listening I have still done the same “fixing” mistake when talking with my friends. I would try to show them their patterns of behaviour that were not helpful or try to explain the psychology of interpersonal situations. And one day a friend, having lost her patience in a telephone conversation, has screamed at me: “Can’t you just listen? I just want to talk and get it out of my chest! I want to be heard – I don’t want to be fixed!”

Although it seems to us that our intention in giving advice is to help our loved ones, more often than not the true reason for this urge to come up with a solution is our own discomfort at staying with difficult emotions. We may feel helpless, concerned, anxious. And we are trying to alleviate this discomfort of ours by “fixing” them. As one of my clients said, when we explored the sources of miscommunication with his wife: “I got it, it is really true: when my wife is trying to talk to me about her concerns and I am telling her ‘don’t worry!’ I am actually saying ‘don’t worry me with it’!”

Advice always presupposes evaluation or judgment (even if positive), and haven’t we all had enough of that? Can I be let simply be, imperfect as I am, in joy and foolishness and sadness? In myself, in my clients and in people with whom I hold emotional conversations I recognize this longing… The longing to be accepted just as we are. Yet it is difficult to withhold our judgements and opinions when listening to a person in distress. We want to do something, we want to be able to help, not to remain passive. Well – to this I may say that we tend to greatly underestimate the power of empathic listening. This kind of listening is not a passive act, for you need to listen with your whole being, to immerse yourself in the process.

Carl Rogers, one of the pioneers of Humanistic psychology and a founder of person-centred therapy wrote that when a person “finds someone else listening acceptantly to his feelings, he little by little becomes able to listen to himself” (On Becoming a Person). When we are being listened to in this particular way, when we feel accepted as we are, we begin to get in touch with our inner being, our own inner guide that will unlock hidden resources for healing and growth.

 

EFT or Tapping on Your Own: Benefits and Challenges

One of the wonderful things about EFT or tapping is you can do it on your own, without seeing a therapist or alongside your therapy sessions. Tapping points are easy to remember and there are no restrictions on what you can tap on. Are you irritated by your neighbor throwing a loud party? Or you are stressed because there is too much to do – with kids, with work, with elderly parents to care for – and you seem to be caught on a treadmill?

EFT can be applied to all kinds of things big or small to release emotional and also physical pain. However, using EFT on your own also has its challenges. In this article, I will explore some common obstacles to using self-applied EFT and suggest possible ways of overcoming them. I will also consider the benefits of using EFT for self-help versus working with a therapist.

The first and foremost problem with doing EFT on your own is actually… not doing it at all! Recently, a new client who was very impressed with EFT said to me: “You must be a very happy person having this tool!” It resonated with me and made me think. Yes, I am reasonably happy, but perhaps not as happy as I could be. And why is that? The simple reason is that although I do have this wonderful tool at my disposal, I fail to use it regularly and properly. Those of you who engage or have engaged in meditation must be familiar with the challenge. You know well that meditation makes you feel good, yet you skip your meditation practice again and again. It requires a lot of self-discipline – a conscious effort – to create that space for yourself and focus, with full intention, on your being.

When I speak about creating space, I mean both time and physical space. With regard to time, establishing a routine can be very helpful. Are you a morning person or an evening person? What is the time of the day in which you can create a little oasis of you-time? Identify that time and schedule it in your diary (15 to 30 minutes). If you just wait for such a time to naturally occur, the chances are that it won’t happen. You have to take your self and your tapping practice seriously and set a firm intention.

It is also important to have a physical space conducive to focusing on your self. Tapping in your office in the middle of all the paperwork and phone calls may not be very effective. As with meditation, choose the spot where you are feeling held and supported by the atmosphere. You can play some ambient music and light a candle. Most importantly you should feel safe, contained and not disturbed in this place. Switch off your mobile phone and close your laptop. If you are in a busy household negotiate this space with your partner and family members. These simple preparations will help you get into tapping quicker and draw the maximum benefit from it.

Another challenge is tuning in and staying tuned it to your emotions. EFT doesn’t work if you just tap mechanically while your mind is wandering somewhere else. You need to really feel the emotion and locate it in your body. Are you feeling anxious and having “butterflies” in your stomach? Are you overwhelmed and feeling a burden weighing heavily on your shoulders? Sometimes you can start by tapping on a physical symptom without knowing what kind of emotion is attached to it. In this case, focus on the symptom and as you tap begin to ask yourself gentle questions, such as: “I wonder what it might be that is causing me this pain?” “I wonder what is it that my body is trying to tell me?” If you allow yourself to relax into the flow of tapping and feeling – the answer will emerge and it may surprise you. I witnessed it many times when working on my own as well as with my clients. One day a client complained about a pain in her finger. As we tapped, we discovered that her finger began to hurt when she got angry with her teenage son two days before, but she pushed her anger down into her body because she wanted to avoid an argument. When we tapped on her anger and allowed it to be expressed and released, the pain in her finger vanished.

“Rambling” is a simple and effective way of getting into the tapping process. Is there something that bothers you and you go over it again and again in your head? You can tell the story to yourself as you tap. Simply voice whatever comes to your mind, skipping the set-up stage. We can have hundreds of thoughts whirling in our mind concurrently but we can only say out loud one at a time. Do it while remaining attentive to how you feel and how your body responds to any particular thought. This technique can help you identify the thoughts that have the biggest emotional resonance in you, so that you can gradually move on to tapping on a specific emotion or issue.

The heavyweight challenge is dealing with deep-seated issues that may feel too big and scary to approach on your own. Looking deep into our selves and facing our demons can be frightening especially for somebody who has never had therapy before. As one of my clients said: “It is like when I was a child and imagined that there was a monster under my bed that will spring up and grab my ankle!” The surest way to chase away the monster is to switch on the light, but to do so we need to take these few steps across the dark room…

Fearing what we may find within our selves may prevent us from connecting with our emotions. Or emotions that are sensed inside can seem too powerful and overwhelming to unleash them. In addition to fear, guilt and shame often constitute big emotional blockages. For example, people who suffered emotional abuse or neglect in their childhood may feel guilty about “blaming” their parents. This feeling would stop them from acknowledging their hurt. If you are aware of any such feelings (fear, shame, guilt) that may prevent you from locating and releasing the pain you are holding inside, it would be advisable to do this work with a help of a therapist or at least in the presence of a trusted friend who can validate your feelings without giving you advice or trying to “rescue” you.

Although tapping with a therapist would provide you with a safe and regular space as well as with experienced professional guidance there are some obvious advantages to tapping on your own. First of all, within one single session you can only cover this much ground. If you tap regularly by yourself in-between the sessions (even if on smaller issues) it can greatly accelerate your progress. And for those of you who are experienced travelers into the underworld of human psyche, self-applied EFT can be a real breakthrough tool because nobody can know you better than you yourself. When I tap on my own and allow myself to drift on the undercurrent of my subconscious I can follow the intricate and subtle twists of my thoughts and feelings as if following a thread in a maze. I must admit that I often tap silently because I find that verbalizing my sensations slows me down. In a similar way the process of translating feelings into words slows down a therapist, even the one who is endowed with a strong intuition.

Self-guided deep EFT can be very thrilling, a journey akin to deep meditation, but as for any challenging journey one needs to be adequately prepared and embark on it with the right state of mind. My suggestion is: start with small things, be curious, explore and let the things unfold.

Redeeming the sparks or Children frozen in time

In Jewish mystical tradition – Kabbalah – there is a teaching that speaks about “redeeming the sparks.” The sparks are the drops of divine light, which got scattered when the “vessels” into which God poured his light when creating the world did not withstand such abundance and shattered. The scattered sparks then got trapped within the “shells.” While God has clearly miscalculated, the task of repairing the initial damage has been assigned to people. This process is called tikkun olam – “repairing of the world.” Whenever we perform the deeds of loving kindness, whenever we engage in healing our own lives and helping those who suffer we redeem more of the divine sparks from the “shells.” Thus human activity is perceived as having a cosmic impact.

While this tradition has an incredibly rich potential for psychological exploration, this is not my intention to engage in it here. However, I would like to draw one analogy. In a similar way as the sparks got trapped and hidden in the “shells” after the “big bang”, the creative, intuitive, spontaneous parts of us get arrested when we experience an emotional trauma. Although people can suffer traumas at any age, children are particularly vulnerable because their nervous system is more sensitive and because they do not yet have enough life experience and psychological maturity to integrate their experiences. For these reasons children are easily impacted by seemingly small events. We are used to think of trauma as something that is inflicted through abuse and physical violence. But, in reality, it does not take much to traumatize a child! People are not aware of it and there are many “ordinary” traumas that go undiscovered. I once got a call from a client who said in an urgent voice “My acupuncturist told me that I have an emotional trauma, but I don’t know what it is!” As it transpired during the session, she grew up with an emotionally unavailable mother, who, being a high achiever herself, championed her daughter to academic success while repressing any spontaneous expression of emotions and creativity. Thus the fear of expressing herself became ingrained in the mind and psyche of this person, with a result that as an adult she could hardly identify her emotions at all, while suffering from anxiety attacks.

When children experience something that frightens them, threatens their safety, makes them doubt themselves or their parents’ love and the effect of such an event is not neutralized promptly it can have long-lasting consequences. The recurring seemingly minor traumas (such as a parent repeatedly calling a child stupid) are particularly damaging because, as I said, they often remain unrecognized, neither by a parent nor by a child (even when this child grows up), and so nobody seeks help. But also, in the face of some bigger events, such as a death of one of the parents or a close family member children are often treated as people who supposedly do not understand the significance of what has happened and are told to be quiet and not to disturb adults who are having the hard time. It is only when these people eventually come for therapy as adults (if they do) that they discover they have suffered a major trauma and were not even allowed to grieve properly.

When a trauma occurs it is as if a part of us gets frozen in time. Even though we may develop various coping mechanisms, our natural growth is impeded and we do not realize our potential as fully as we could. We continue to carry within us those children trapped in time, children that are still hurting and feeling scared. These children do not know what we know. They do not know that they will survive; they do not know that they are beautiful and lovable just as they are, in spite of what has happened to them. When these children – the sparks of divine light – are liberated from the prison of the “shells,” a remarkable amount of wonderful creative energy is released and life assumes the richness and fullness we have never known before. Our relationships improve, our enjoyment of life greatly increases and we find ourselves dreaming of and doing things that we thought were beyond our ability.

But how can we set these children frozen in time free? Therapy, of course, is helpful, but there is a lot we can do on our own. To start with, we need to identify events that as children we experienced as traumatic. There is a simple technique for doing that.

Think of some uncomfortable feeling you experience in certain particular situations. For example, you may feel anxious when you need to speak in public, or you may have difficulty saying “no” for fear that people will not like you any more if you refuse. Connect with these feelings and ask yourself when you experienced them for the first time. Very often it leads people to some early memory of an event where in a similar situation they felt hurt, threatened or otherwise discouraged. Allow yourself to feel the emotion. Stay with it, however uncomfortable it may feel. Tapping (for those who are familiar with EFT) is generally very helpful in assisting people to reconnect with their feelings (and eventually release them). Remember that even if you feel engulfed by an emotion, it is not the whole of you, but the child within you that experiences it with such intensity. Imagine that child. See what she or he looks like. What are your feelings towards the child? What does the child need in this moment of need to help her/him? Does she/he need a hug? A loving word? Reassurance? Does she/he need to be heard as they express their pain?

Now comes the most interesting bit. Imagine yourself time-travelling to the scene and giving the child what they needed and did not receive at that time. If you use tapping you can use it throughout the whole process. I personally find it helpful, but it is not a necessary requirement. What is important is that you try to experience your bonding with the child as deeply and vividly as possible. It is a meditation of a sort. If you hug the child, try to feel the touch. If the child throws his/her arms around your neck and cries – feel it! Try to imagine it as real as you can, as if you were comforting a real child. When the child feels calmer and the bonding is established you can talk to him/her. You can tell them that even though this thing has happened to them they are still wonderful and lovable and that you love them and want to take care of them. This can be a very powerful experience, an adventure like in science-fiction. You can take the child with you for a trip in the future and show them some beautiful places where you have been. One client of mine has taken the little boy within him to a football match and they had a great time together shouting and jumping up and down. You can also give a child a “magic” token which they can use to call you whenever they feel lonely or afraid and need your help.

When children are “frozen in time” they do not develop. That is why you may sometime observe in an adult person the behaviour of a three year old. We mature, but these children within us don’t. Like Kai from The Snow Queen fairytale they remain trapped within the palace of ice. Just as Kai’s vision was distorted by the speck of ice that entered his eye, our vision of ourselves and the world around us is distorted. When we begin to liberate our inner children from the constraints of hurt and fear, when we “redeem the sparks,” when we repair our own world our heart begins to grow warmer and our lives change.

 

Healing our inner child

In this article I am going to continue exploring the topic of self-love. In my previous articles I wrote about the importance of learning to love our selves and tried to explain the difference between self-love and selfishness. There I spoke quite a lot about parenting and how childhood experiences continue to affect us as adults. One may say though – and very legitimately – ok, I understand that these things have happened to me and had an impact on me, but what can I do about them now? Those events cannot be changed, so how can I possibly repair the past?

It’s true: we cannot change the past events. But we can change the way we feel about them by finding, befriending and healing our inner child. Here I want to share with you a personal story.

Almost as long as I can remember myself and well until my mid-twenties I lived with a terrible secret, which I dared not to share with any living soul. I can share it with you now. It was a horrible suspicion that the “real” “me” was an awful person. Why? Because of my younger sister. She is a year and a half younger than me, and when she was a child she had been ill a lot. So much of our parents’ attention was focused, naturally, on her. Besides that, she was a very bright, outgoing, extraverted and engaging child and knew how to attract attention. In this competition for our parents’ love I felt I could not win. So my anger and frustration would occasionally turn into the acts of aggression against her. Sometimes we would fight, and once, when I was about ten or eleven, I locked her in a shed with big mosquitoes, which we both dreaded as we believed that they carried malaria. A few years ago she told me that she still could not forgive me for that persecution. I wonder if she does now… But I am digressing.

Obviously, our parents would scold me for mistreating my sister. Especially my mother used to get upset and she would say: “She is the closest person for you! You must love your sister!”

This conflict between the imperative “you must love your sister” and the feelings of anger and jealousy that I actually experienced was too much for a small child to resolve. And this is the conflict that began in the very early years of my life. I had nobody to talk to about it, and even if I did I probably wouldn’t have known how to put it into words. So, unconsciously, I began to form an idea that something must have been wrong with me. That I was somehow perverse, abnormal, because I could not experience emotions that other people, supposedly, felt. This led to me doubting my ability to love and to be loved. Because who would love such a monster?

As I entered my teens and began to form friendships and romantic relationships, I continued to carry my “dark secret” within me. It kept me from opening fully to anyone because I was afraid that when they learned who I truly was they would be abhorred and would leave me. Of course, my relationships suffered because I was always “looking for signs” that would confirm my doubt about my being lovable, reacting strongly to any gesture, word or tone that would intensify my suspicion.

I began getting weary of restraining and containing those demons of mine, and some part of me was pushing harder and harder to disclose my secret…  The first person I have ever spoken to about my deep inner conflict was a friend I met during the year I spent in Amsterdam as an exchange student. To my surprise, she did not back off. On the contrary, she said that my contradictory feelings were absolutely normal and she gave me a book by John Bradshaw: Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child. From that book, which is still with me, began my journey of recovering and healing my inner child…

I will not be retelling the content of John Bradshaw’s book to you. You can find it and read it if you are interested. But I will tell you about one particular exercise that he suggests because it gave me an idea about the depth of my problem. Somewhere towards the middle of the book he encourages you to imagine that you are a kind magician who can adopt that miserable child and give her (or him) what the child needed and did not receive in her/his childhood. This is where I got stuck. Because my response was one of a profound, almost physical loathing towards that girl – me as a child. She was revolting, that little monster! Why would I want to adopt her?! I closed the book and – I must confess – have never finished all the exercises in it…

That was many years ago… Since then I have come a long way and am now quite a good friend with that girl – a child and later adolescent – within me. I have experimented with many techniques and approaches, some learned from others, some that I have intuited myself. Here I would like to share with you one technique, which is simple, gentle and effective.

Find a quiet place to sit. You can light a candle if you like. Ensure that nobody will distract you for 10-20 minutes. It is important to allocate for yourself space and time. You may want to put your telephone and mobile on mute. Take a few slow deep breaths in and out. Breathing slowly through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Become aware of your body. Notice how your feet and hands are positioned, notice whether your back is tense or relaxed, and how the air feels against the skin of your face… Become aware of the sounds in the room. How many sounds can you detect? Just gently notice all these things. This simple exercise will help relax your mind and take it away from the daily fuss.

Now gently turn your mind inwards (you may want to close your eyes). And imagine yourself as a child. Any image that comes to your mind. It can be a memory of yourself at a particular time, or it can be a photo. Focus your attention on this image. How do you feel about that child? Ask yourself this question and notice your emotions. Allow them to flow and to change. Can you feel compassion, warmth and love for that little boy or girl? If you can (I hope you do!) – intensify it and allow yourself to feel it in your body. You may feel your heart or chest growing warm. Stay with this feeling for some time and let yourself experience it fully. And if you wish, if you feel the time is right, you can talk to the child and let him or her know that you are there and you love him (or her). How does the child respond? This is for you to discover! Repeat this exercise daily or as often as you can and notice the subtle change that will start occurring in the way you feel about yourself and life around you…

And if you, as I did at first, cannot feel any positive emotions towards yourself as a child – please don’t despair! Nothing is lost! It only means that more things need to be explored, and you can explore them on your own, with the help of a professional, or a trusted friend. The most important is the intention – to find and heal yourself, and the road there is through finding and healing your inner child. Or your inner children – but this is the theme for my next article…