Sitting in the Swamp
by Nancy Privett, MA, EFTCert-I, BBSH
The Burden of the Pain of the Past
Some years ago, author Caroline Myss put out an audiotape called “Why People Don’t Heal.” In it, she talked about how we sometimes allow the pain of our past to become the defining factor in our lives. In other words, we allow our history to carry a lot of clout in our lives, and we make our decisions and create our lives around our old wounds.
Healing and consciousness are about changing this pattern of behavior, about not allowing our past pain to continue to have an effect on the quality of our lives in the present. Healing and consciousness are about transforming the pain and grief and rage of past events, and getting on with our lives in a richer, fuller way. We can never change the stories of our history, but we can certainly change our response to them.
At one time or another, we are all usually addicted to certain patterns of behavior – playing victim, playing perpetrator, playing martyr, playing savior. These are just a few examples. These behaviors are our defenses against situations we believe will cause us pain. They are attempts to fulfill our needs, even if we are not aware of this on a conscious level. It is much easier to allow ourselves to be drawn into old behavior patterns than to stop them (the default program is always easiest), which would entail changing our lives. We also may be deriving power from our wounds, using them as a means of manipulating and controlling others. Giving up that kind of power that has worked for us is hard to do. And we may be resistant because transforming our behavior seems like too monumental a task. How ever can we get to the other side of healing when our wounds hurt so darn much?
Opening to a Possibility
Interestingly, healing does not need to be a long, drawn-out process. It actually can take place in an instant. Truly letting go and choosing healing rather than chaos and pain can happen so quickly and naturally, it’s like walking from one room to another. Can you let go of your old hurts and wounds? Can you imagine life without them? Can you say, “Okay, this happened to me and I cannot change it, and it really hurt and still hurts. However, I choose to believe that the universe is not arbitrary, even though right now that sounds ludicrous, considering what I have been through. But I am willing to be guided by my pain. I am willing to increase my consciousness. I am willing to find peace.”
There are events that happen to us and to others, which seem to be so horrible that our linear minds simply cannot find any meaning locked inside the tragedy. We can only comes to terms with these events by being in a state of awareness that exceeds the limits of the physical plane, a state of awareness that acknowledges that we are much more than a physical body living in the physical world. This state of awareness is reached sometimes through meditation, through imagery, through prayer, by being in nature. And sometimes it just spontaneously arises. It is that moment when our spirits are free and we get the sense that we are limitless and never separate from a magnificent power that organizes and sustains the universe. It only takes a second of this awareness to integrate the understanding that our wounds can hold a precious gift. There is no way to translate this expanded understanding into linear language – when we try to do so, it sounds cruel and insensitive.
But by opening to the possibility that this concept is true for just a second, can help us make sure that our wounds do not create limitations. If it were true that there is a power deep within our wounds, we could be truly free, free enough to accept the responsibility for really creating our lives, rather than letting our wounds do it for us.
A Simple Example
Let’s use a simple example to make this all clearer. A woman is very unhappy in her work situation, and for the last five years has really wanted to leave her job and look for work elsewhere, or possibly set up her own office. The woman complains a lot about her work situation, but when asked by her family and friends why she does not do something about it, she has a thousand reasons why she can’t. On a regular basis she cries to her husband and her best friend about her terrible situation, and demands sympathy for it, and for all the areas of her life where she feels she can’t have what she really wants. If she feels that she does not get enough sympathy, she becomes cold and demanding.
Let’s look at the woman’s energy field. The energy field is an egg of energy which surrounds and penetrates the physical body. The energy field holds a template, or pattern, for our physical bodies, as well as energy levels which correspond to our emotions, our thoughts and our spirituality. This woman’s energy field has an energy “jam” over her spine, from the neck to the shoulder blades, which is where two of her will centers are located. This dysfunctional energy structure interferes with the healthy flow of energy throughout the woman’s energy field. It represents a negative belief the woman has about life, which is: “I can never have what I really want.” The energy structure contains frequencies which correspond to the woman’s negative images and suppressed feelings about that belief.
How did the woman develop this anomaly in her field? As with most of us, it was created during her childhood. She was constantly thwarted in her desires by an alcoholic, critical father, who told her point blank that she would never be able to reach the heights that she dreamed of. Every time she aspired to achieve something, or try something new, her father would put her down for even having aspirations, ask her who she thought she was, and demean her both verbally and sometimes physically. Pretty soon, the little girl the woman once was, began to believe these statements. As that happened, the normal healthy flow of energy in her will centers became distorted.
Now, as an adult, whenever the woman thinks about leaving her unhealthy work situation and striking out on her own, which is what she really wants to do, she activates the energy structure representing her negative beliefs about what she can achieve. Then any impetus she has in the direction of getting what she wants is derailed because the message sent to her brain is that of the negative belief: “I cannot have what I really want.”
Being Stuck in the Mud
I call this pattern of behavior “sitting in the swamp,” and it happens to all of us at one time or another, and sometimes for a long time. The energy structure which interferes with the proper working of the circuits in the woman’s energy field, can be likened to a swamp which the woman visits on a regular basis whenever she thinks about her work situation. She sits in the swamp, getting pulled into the muck with every negative thought and image that appears. Despairing feelings and feelings of hopelessness and anger are stored in this swamp, and come into the woman’s consciousness when she activates the energy structure by thinking of something she really wants to do, like have a fulfilling job. This sets off the sequence of negative thoughts and images and feelings, and the woman sinks more deeply into the swamp mud.
As long as the woman’s pattern of behavior is unconscious, it will be impossible for her to change it. Even if someone points out to her what she is doing, she may merely get angry at them and be reluctant or completely resistant to stop the pattern. In fact, even if she becomes aware that she is reacting to childhood pain, and is actually viewing life through the eyes of a child, rather than an adult, she may continue to do the same thing.
Why? The woman has configured a whole piece of her life around this negative belief. It is the vehicle she uses to relate to her husband and her best friend. She feels close to them because she can complain and cry to them about the way she is helpless and victimized in life. If the woman were to take a risk and behave in a way that contradicts her negative belief, she would dismantle that belief and also dismantle her life. Her relationships would have to change. She would have to find a new way to “be with” her husband and her friend. She would have to take a risk with regard to her work; she would have no more excuses why she couldn’t. She would have to deal with a new job, a new workplace, new responsibility. And she would have to create a whole new way of feeling about herself on an inner level – a way that completely contradicts a major authority figure of her childhood, her father.
Dismantling our lives can be a scary prospect to say the least. We become almost comfortable with our familiar pain. Stepping away from a way of life we know, means opening up new territory to explore. It’s a little like walking on the moon. A shift in consciousness will bring a shift in our life; life as we know it will change, in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. However, when we give up sitting in the swamp, we broaden our lives. We have that old swampland to reclaim, and the energy that used to go into supporting its existence can now go into something that feels much better for us. The risk may be well worth taking.
One of the best ways to transform negative beliefs and heal the wounds of childhood is the modality known as EFT, or Emotional Freedom Techniques. Find out more about EFT in the Energy-Based Therapies section of this website, or go to www.emofree.com. .