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What is therapy about?
July 14, 2000
8:17 pm
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Frieda.

Thanks for your questions of 24-Jun-00 on the Ego... Thread. I must apologise for my belated reply. I have been working all my waking hours and have at last caught up.

In your first question about the purpose of therapy, you asked, "What should that therapy accomplish?"

In my opinion, therapy ought to bring about consensus between:
(1) what you ‘think’ about your life situations,
(2) what you ‘feel’ about your life situations, and
(3) what is the commonly held view of the ‘reality’ about your life situations.

If there is any dissonance between those three aspects of your life then internal and/or external conflict will likely result.

Put simply, therapy should bring you to the point where you can function both effectively and comfortably in the environment in which you choose to live.

To be a little more specific, therapy ought to help you to learn how you function and why; to find your meaning and goals in life; to help you find your purpose in life.

Most people want a therapist to help them to be happy. It seems to me that most people want to ‘feel OK’ most of the time. They go to a therapist because they feel discontented with themselves and with life in general. They want to find a way out of their psychological pain. The problems arise when people do what they think will make them ‘feel’ good and then find the opposite result. An inordinate number of people think that acquiring external things - like relationships, families, money, beauty and power, etc - will make them happy.

However, each human being has a set of ‘emotional memories’. Each memory, once triggered, governs how that person feels. Feelings are our awareness of the arousal of that emotional memory. The emotional memory, depending on its nature, can result in either positive, pleasurable, joyful feelings or negative, painful, sorrowful feelings.

Generally, negative feelings result from us perceiving a threat to our well being. The degree of psychological pain is related to the perceived seriousness of the threat and our ability to counteract it. Positive feelings result from a perception of being supported and having our safety and security enhanced and our ability to sustain that support.

Our emotional memories can be triggered into arousal directly by our sense organs without any cognitive input. However mostly our emotional memories are triggered into arousal by perceptions about the consequences for us of an event. These perceptions are the result of what we ‘think’ about an event. Is the event good or bad for us. This involves cognitive processes that involve beliefs, contextual memories, memory scripts etc.

Therapy ought to enable you to discover your own set of personal emotional memories and how they are triggered. It ought to enable you to ‘reality check’ any event and to decide whether that ‘feeling of fear’ is a true indication of an external threat or just the recall of an emotion which was laid down during some past threat, possible in early childhood.

Therapy ought to enable you to ‘see’ your false beliefs about events and how these beliefs trigger your emotional recalls.

In summary, therapy ought to give you the insights and realisations regarding your inappropriate interpretations of external events. But most of all therapy ought to give you the tools and techniques to effectively calm emotional arousal where such emotions are not appropriate for the situation. Therapy ought to help you to develop love, respect for and to make friends with yourself.
-oOo-

In your second question, you also asked for, "Also some clarification of the Therapist/client relationship. I am very confused."

Firstly, the therapist/client relationship must be based upon mutual respect and trust. Total confidentiality - with the only exception being life threatening danger - is mandatory.

The focus of the client/therapist relationship ought to be primarily dedicated to accomplishing the goals of therapy as perhaps inadequately defined above.

The therapist has a large responsibility to behave ethically. As part of the very intimate therapeutic process, clients can very easily develop ‘feelings’ for or against the therapist. The therapist ought never to take personal advantage of that situation, be it sexual, monetary or otherwise. There is a strict code of ethics to which the therapist must adhere.

The ultimate goal of therapy is to foster client independence of the therapist and a healthy psychological self reliance.

Frieda, I hope this adequately addresses your questions.

Perhaps the Site Coordinator would care to add to or comment on this response.

July 14, 2000
11:35 pm
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Spirit
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Tez: I have a question for you. (Welcome back, by the way.) My mom is undergoing surgery for breast cancer, this is number two surgery, more involved than the last. She is having trust issues, very founded, with her spouse, and she exhibits classic symptoms of depression. What can I do to help her see that she is experiencing depression, that this is normal with what she is going through, and could be helped with the proper medication and therapy. This has been very rough on her. Any thoughts?

July 15, 2000
8:42 pm
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Tez,
I have been seeing my therapist and I have processed some memories that caused me to react then with defenses that now cause me trouble.

My main issue right now is that I want to not be. My goal is to cease to exist. I just cant figure out how to do that without affecting anyone else.

My therapist wonders if my baby sister dying at birth (I was 2) makes me feel some guilt for being alive. I don't remember anything about it. I just really want to not be. I figured I'd live to be about 18, but now I have outlived my usefulness, but I won't die. I keep waiting. I don't think I'll take any action, I just keep waiting.

What can I do to "make friends with myself?" How can blaming my thinking pattern on an event I don't even really remember hellp me to reprogram my today? Something in me still has hope that I want to do that, but it glows dimmer and dimmer with time.

Just waiting.

Jen

July 16, 2000
7:55 pm
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Tez,

As usual, an insightful, informative response. I want the kind of counseling you describe, but there are a few variables I'm uncomfortable with. How do you decide what is a false belief? Who decides? Exactly how do you determine your purpose in life? Why are these things unclear to us, ourselves?

I'm going to try to put my case history in your format:

1. I think my life situation is lovely. Everything is great. I have a fabulous family (immediate), I lack nothing, I have great friends, I'm involved in my community, Externally, there is NOTHING but good stuff.

2. I FEEL that I am stealing this life. I'm living on borrowed time, and pretty soon someone will come and take it away. I feel I have no right to what I have, and pretty soon, the person whose life it is will show up and want it back. I am prepared at any moment to give it up. I can't get too attached, because I can't own it.

3. The commonly held belief about my life is that of #1. People like me, and my family, my house, they respect my family and never question our "reality."

So you see I have some dissonance, causing internal conflict that is beginning to work itself out externally.

I can function effectively and LOOK comfortable doing it, but I'm not. I have meaning and goals and a purpose, but they are always in danger of upheaval. (Is that the threat you refer to?)

False beliefs? Hard to discern from the inside. Emotional recall of WHAT???

I have developed my own tools to calm inappropriate emotional arousal, but its so punitive, it damages inside, even if it does help external function. So basically love and respect for myself are tenuous at best. There are parts of me I am friends with. There are parts with which I war.

I have psychological self-reliance. It's just not healthy!:)

Also, what about the issue of transference? Should all emotions for a therapist be analyzed and applied somewhere? I can be honest with my thetapist about everything but how I feel emotionally for her-- whether I'm angry, irritated, --I guess just the emotions I think are 'bad.'

Thank you, Dr. Tez, therapy has never been so fun.

JEN--

I'm glad you're waiting and not trying to rush things! Please keep working with your therapist. You have some pretty obvious 'false beliefs' Tez referred to. Hang on, wait. Time is a friend, as is life.

July 17, 2000
10:03 am
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Spirit -

Your mother is going through what is commonly called situational depression. This occurs when multiple, larger than normal life-stressors occur in quick succession or all at once.

If you explain to your mom that depression can be harmful to the immune system and it's important to keep up your hope and spirits (ha ha, pun. maybe that should be "groan, pun") to help her fight the cancer. Mostly, those with situational depression need a strong support network and meds, although talk therapy is always good.

But some researchers are on the fence about talk therapy for the critically ill. Talking about your problems can dramatically increase your blood pressure and heart rate and increases your chances for stroke nad heartattack. Some therapists believe in the distract and delay tactic. Put them on meds, distract them from their depression until they get healthier, then re-evaluate. Sometimes talk therapy isn't even necessary, since the situaion is usually the trigger and once the situation has been resolved, the depression will lift naturally.

Some people move from situational to clinical depression after the situaion has been removed. Then, I think talk therapy is definately necessary. But why should youtry to stress her out now, when she needs to preserve her strength? talk to her doctors about it, and about the connections between a healthy outlook and a strong immune system. The are there to help you, even if you sometimes have to kick them in the butt to get them to do it.

Still praying!!!!!

July 17, 2000
6:12 pm
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Spirit.

G’day. Thanks for your welcome back and your question in your posting of 14-Jul-00.

Since I know little of your mother’s situation, my response is at best tenuous. But, here goes.

Firstly, if I were in your position, I would clearly define your mother’s issues in my own mind. It seems to me that your mom faces a dual threat. She faces the likely prospects of being ‘abandoned’ by her spouse and then the possibility of dying of cancer.

Secondly, I would share your mom’s ‘feelings’ with her as intimately as possible to confirm my beliefs about your mom’s issues.

About the ‘abandonment’ issue, in all probability your mom’s relationship with your father is partly driven by an emotional component that emanates from a childhood emotional memory of seeking protection and support from a father. If your mom’s spouse is not supportive in the face of the disfiguring surgery entailed in a mastectomy, then she is possibly ‘feeling’ all the fear of abandonment of a tiny child alone in the dark, and unwanted. If your mom had a less than loving childhood, then the probability is high that she is reliving a fearful emotional memory of past ‘abandonment’.

About the breast cancer: your mom faces the very real threat of death.

Depression is one of four evolutionally derived emotional responses to fear. From what you say, your mom faces the very real threat of ‘abandonment’ by her spouse and death. Since your mom cannot effectively ‘fight’, ‘run’ from or ‘appease’ the cause of the threat, she has chosen the last option of ‘immobilisation’; i.e. depression. Knowing that the depression is ‘normal’, will probably not help your mom much. It seems to me that your mom needs is a spiritual belief to sustain her through her darkest hours and the inevitability of her own death, whenever that day comes. Your mom, like all of us, needs to know that it’s OK to die. That isn’t an easy lesson for any of us to learn, I can assure you. We in the west are a death denying society. Our deepest emotions rebel against the prospect of death. We hide from death in a myriad of ways. Yet unless we can come to terms with our own death, we cannot truly live.

Does your mother read a lot? Perhaps you could give her a copy of either of Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s books, ‘On Death and Dying’ or ‘Death: The final Stage of Growth’. These books are good reading for those of us facing the serious prospects of death, whether it be our own death or that of a relative. Perhaps you need some support too.

About therapy for your mom: If the childhood abandonment issue is really a problem for her, therapy would certainly help.

Dr. R. D. Laing’s ‘Co-Presence’ therapeutic approach would seem very appropriate here. It involves ‘intimately sharing’ in your mom’s deepest thoughts and feelings followed by just sitting quietly together in silent reflection for a while. Sometimes a great peace settles on both parties, and a ‘wisdom’ that surpasses understanding comes to the person undergoing this type of therapy. Perhaps you could try this with your mom yourself. Your difficulty would be to get through your mom’s ‘defenses’ to allow those thoughts to surface.

I hope this has been some help in what is truly a difficult time for you and your mom.

July 17, 2000
6:16 pm
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Jenjen

Thanks for your very poignant posting. I sincerely hope that you have a good therapist.

I am reluctant to comment on your issues without a deeper understanding of your situation.

You asked, "How can blaming my thinking pattern on an event I don't even really remember help me to reprogram my today?" Firstly, you don’t remember the childhood event with your contextual memory but you do retain the emotion that you felt at that time in your emotional memory. How does knowing this help? Well.. if you can realise that your feelings are the result of this emotional memory recall, you can learn to ‘nurture’ yourself. This means accepting responsibility for being both the ‘father’ and more importantly the ‘mother’ of this tiny little ‘emotional child’ within you that consists of this set of infant emotional memories. In nurturing yourself effectively, you will find a peace comes over you and your child like wonder at the joy of living can surface at long last.

You said, "My goal is to cease to exist" It sounds to me like you have completely disowned that ‘tiny infant emotion’ stored deep in your emotional memory. It sounds to me like you want to get rid of that memory at the price of non-existence. Don’t throw your unique opportunity to ‘be’ who you can be, away.

You asked, "What can I do to make friends with myself?" You can let this tiny emotional child within you out of the torment of abandonment. You can get to know your ‘inner child’, respect and love it. You can learn what a unique gift this ‘emotional essence’ is. It is part of that which is uniquely you. Hopefully, your therapist will help you do these things.

Let me know how therapy goes for you.

July 17, 2000
6:22 pm
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Frieda.
I will mull over your posting of 16-7-00 and get back to you, tomorrow, Aussie time. 🙂

July 17, 2000
9:20 pm
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Cici and Tez: Thank you both for your insightful responses. Its funny how the natural course of caring for, loving another steers us in the best direction possible. I agree that she does not need more stress upon her at this time, therefore, I have decided to speak with her doctors when the opportunity arises. I'm a strong believer that the place and time presents itself when the time has come to act on a thing. For the record, my mom's husband is not my dad, he is my dad's brother... Long story... We had a great heart-to-heart this evening. When I left she was in good spirits (all puns intended). I know she is scared, and she has vaccillated on several issues in the last few days, but then she is waging an internal battle.

I strongly agree that all people must accept that death is all a part of the living process. I learned to accept that at a young age. My mom says she isn't ready to die and will fight with all she has. As to her spirituality, I really couldn't say. She has a way of accpeting the good and cursing the bad. I know I didn't get my spirituality from her, it just came to me, thank God. Thank you for the prayers. Wednesday will be a trying day for her. May all experience the peace of living through knowing that one day death will be eminent.

July 18, 2000
7:41 pm
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Frieda.
In response to your very interesting posting of 16-Jul-00, I give my usual disclaimer that I am basing my reply on very limited knowledge of your psyche. As a consequence I could well be wrong in my assumptions.

You asked, "How do you decide what is a false belief? Who decides?" I believe that all human ‘truth’ is relative. After deep reflection, it is you who have to decide that which you believe about any particular life event.

The problem is that many of our beliefs are not of our choosing. We have been enculturated and socialised into so many obviously wrong beliefs since birth without realising what it is that we actually believe about many situations. As children many of us have unquestioningly and indiscriminately taken on the beliefs and standards of others. For example, one of my many false beliefs was that if a woman allowed me to ‘have’ her sexually then she must really ‘love me’. I was totally unaware of this belief and it was my ignorance of this belief of mine that bound me into an abusive relationship. Once I discovered this obviously false belief, I was able to see a much more functional ‘truth’ about my relationship.

You asked, "Exactly how do you determine your purpose in life?" You discover your purpose in life by living it. Each stage has its purpose. Life is like a beautiful rose. It starts out as a thorny bush. Then small buds appear. Then the buds open up slowly. One day, we discover the bush fragrantly and gloriously adorned as only nature can. It is then that we begin to discover the beauty in this cosmic creation. However, the thorns are permanent. They indiscriminately prick both admirers and pickers alike. Yet the thorns have a purpose. They are the poor ignorant rose’s only chance to stop the wild beasts walking over them. But the thorns welcome the propagating bees, other insects and birds. The rose has many purposes to fulfil before it wilts and dies. Yet it blooms again. Pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow are all encompassed in the potential of this magnificent plant.

Then, you asked, "Why are these things unclear to us, ourselves?" It is our very ignorance that produces the drama of life. Without our ignorance and illusory vulnerability, we could not know pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow. We would then not exist as humans.

You asked, "Emotional recall of WHAT???"

Before I answer that question, we need to have some small awareness of the physical make up of the brain. Any ‘recall’ is experienced in our ‘working memory’ which is located in our ‘fore brain’. It is in our working memory that our conscious awareness happens. This working memory has input from our contextual memories in the fore brain. BUT working memory also has input from the amygdala in the ‘mid brain’. It is in this ‘reptilian’ inheritance that our emotional memories reside. When we ‘feel’ it is this input from the amygdala about which we are aware.

Your list of your characteristics clearly imply that there is a large discrepancy between what you ‘think’ and what you ‘feel’. What you are implying is that the signal from your amygdala to your working memory is not in accord with that from your contextual memories and all that they contain.
Now to your question about "what it is that you emotionally recall". Long, long before your verbalisation stages, emotional memories were being formed. Contextual memories at best were sparse, at worst non-existent. Yet, you sort out your mother’s nipple to feed. Evolutionally derived emotional memories provided that drive. You also sort touch and ‘love’. It was during these very early infant stages that you formed emotional memories of your worth and abilities, and the nature of your tiny world. Did you emotionally learn that you were worthy of existing? Or did you learn that you were not worthy of touch, feeding etc, unless you screamed and screamed? Or did you learn that screaming did nothing and you were helpless to bring about satisfaction of your needs? Did you learn that the world was a friendly or a hostile place? Did you learn that you had to coo and smile to get affection? What did you learn? What did you "emotionally record" about your INTRINSIC worth? Did you emotionally learn that you only had EXTRINSIC worth? These earliest emotional memories of self-worth have since acquired many emotionally memorised ‘triggers’, any one of which can drive your emotional arousal state and subsequent awareness of that state. This awareness in your case is the ‘feeling’ that you do not deserve to have your life and that someone else will in all probability come to claim it as they did your little sister. Obviously, your verbalised explanation for the ‘feeling’ has come from a much later interpretation of the ‘meaning’ of the feeling.

Whilst each individual has their own set of unique positive and negative emotional memories, the inappropriate ways of dealing with their arousal are not at all uncommon. Some people deny their feelings outright. Others try to layer them with superficial attributes of self-worth such as money, education, possessions, relationships, travel, ‘workaholism’. Others try to annihilate their negative feelings and to induce positive ones with drugs. Whatever the method, the aim is the same; to DISOWN the poor worthless emotional self. In your case, speaking of your method, you said that "…its so punitive, it damages inside, even if it does help external function. So basically love and respect for myself are tenuous at best. There are parts of me I am friends with. There are parts with which I war." You are probably friends with your contextual memories and your positive emotions. But you are probably at war with the demands of your emotional memory of worthlessness; just one big thorn amongst many roses. How dare it intrude amongst the roses of your life. If you meet its demand you would be ostracised by your family and friends and ‘abandoned’; therein losing the "good stuff" in your life . Yet refusing to acknowledge this ‘infant emotional core’ of yourself and refusing to meet its emotional needs to be ‘nurtured’, causes pain. So… your dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t. Is this how the emotional conflict goes with you?

You said, "I have meaning and goals and a purpose, but they are always in danger of upheaval. (Is that the threat you refer to?)" Yes. You speak of "danger of upheaval" I would ask this question: "From whence is the ‘information’ regarding the ‘danger of impending loss’ coming?" Is the source rational ? Or, as is more likely the case, is the source emotional? Do you rationally ‘think’ there is the danger of loss or do you ‘feel’ there is the danger of loss? Is your belief about the impending threat ‘really’ likely to happen? Is the bank about to foreclose? Or is it only a recalled emotion from your childhood past?

Ahhh… the issue of transference. You asked, " Should all emotions for a therapist be analyzed and applied somewhere?" A good question. Imagine you have a tiny frightened, demanding little girl living with you day and night and always at you for tender loving care. So, you’ve grown tired of her impositions. You lock her away in a tiny room at the back of your home. Now you can have the "good stuff". But your conscience demands that you at the very least bath, toilet and feed her. Soon your resentment towards her grows. Now you want to disown her completely but can’t. The more you are "punitive" towards 'her' the more 'she' screams and disrupts your life. Here’s the dilemma. What do you do? Build a sound proof prison for 'her'(denial of her existence)? Hire a nanny?(the boyfriend) Or do you welcome 'her' with open arms, giving 'her' all the love, respect, assurance, touch and nurture that 'she' craves? For then she will surely go to sleep contented in the knowledge that you do really love her. Your set of infant emotional memories ARE that 'tiny child'. The choice of how you treat 'her', together with the response that you get from 'her' in return, is yours alone.

Your infant emotional memories EAVESDROP on your every thought. Do you want to frighten this 'tiny child' within you, who can’t tell the difference between external reality and your thoughts? Or… do you want to comfort and reassure 'he' by monitoring what you think and what you say to 'her'. Conscious effort to address 'her' directly, and therein to comfort 'her', works wonders. The use of the word "we" does this. You can say directly to 'he', "We are doing very well. Everything is looking good for ‘us’. I’m looking after ‘us’. I will protect ‘us’." In fact, this is the neocortex communicating directly with the amygdala. The ‘we’ and the ‘us’ is the ‘thinking’ and the ‘feeling’ self. If practiced diligently, it works.

Dr Aaron Beck and Dr Albert Ellis were major exponents of fostering positive and avoiding negative ‘self-talk’; the blaming, shaming shoulds and oughts etc. But I doubt that they really understood the physiological ramifications of emotional memories when they proposed their therapeutic approach. Dr Margaret Paul has gone further with her work on the 'inner child'. Dr Joseph LeDoux is currently working on the physiology of the emotional brain at NYU labs. Many others in the long past, like Drs Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and Eric Berne, did much to psychologically delineate and model the emotional and thinking self. Existentialists like Drs Viktor Frankl, Rollo May etc sort to emphasize finding meaning in life as opposed to the wallowing in the 'existential vacuum' of the seemingly depressive meaninglessness of a life that is bound to terminate in death. Viva la rose!!!

I apologise for the inordinately long response. I hope I have answered your questions satisfactorily.

July 18, 2000
7:48 pm
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Spirit.

While experiencing one's own death is unavoidable, the intuitive realisation that each moment is in itself intrinsically invaluable beyond price and eternal, makes living a joy, despite the pain. With this realisation, the two can co-exist together.

All the very best for both you and your mom.

July 22, 2000
10:41 pm
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Tez,

Your insight is sometimes funny and sometimes scary!

I get to decide what truth is?? Hurrah!

Our vulnerability is illusory? Mine feels quite literal.

I have to be kinda cynical because you were so accurate in my evaluation, I'm a little uncomfortable.

My emotional records about my intrinsic worth are buried under lots of "Not wothy to exist" confirmations. I desperately want to disown this poor worthless self, and yes, a sound proof room would be good,too. I have no sympathy for the little beast, though your tender interpretation of her aroused some guilt, shame, should, would, oughts. But I quickly put those in the sound proof room with her.

Welcome and nurture...

I'll think about it.

If I get to decide what is truth, I am going to decide the little beast doesn't exist, that this is My life, and that there is no danger of loss. VOILA!!!

July 23, 2000
6:35 pm
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Frieda.
You said, "I get to decide what truth is?? Hurrah!" Who else can get to decide on 'your truth' but you. Even adopting someone else's truth, is your decision on what will be your truth. The problem is that as little children, we were taught to distrust our own judgement. We were indoctrinated into believing that authority figures always know better than us about what we ought to believe. The habit of deferring our right to think for ourselves in deeply ingrained in most of us.

You said, "Our vulnerability is illusory? Mine feels quite literal." I'm sure it does. That is the nature of recalled emotions at any instant. It is easy to believe that those negative 'feelings' indicate a real threat to your well being.

You said, "If I get to decide what is truth, I am going to decide the little beast doesn't exist, that this is My life, and that there is no danger of loss. VOILA!!! " If only it were that simple. The disenfranchisation of the emotional self that happened in childhood to so many of us, cannot be continued into adulthood without suffering great emotional pain. No decision of the cognitive self, to deny the existence of this sad emotional memory, will prevent the fearful emotional arousal when that memory is triggered by a real or imagined 'put down'. However, 'the truth' about these emotional memories 'will set you free'. Please forgive those biblical overtones. 🙂

July 23, 2000
10:25 pm
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Tez,

I love it when you use words like "disenfanchisation!"

Aren't you saying that my emotional truth is NOT just what I decide it is? Aren't you saying that my memories--based on truth or not-- are a reality unto themselves? That I can deny or punish or embrace, but it won't change the reality that those emotional memories/triggers are there? What is the truth I must face about these emotional memories? Merely that they are there? Then decide if I will continue to react to situations based on these fearful imagined or remembered threats, or if I will choose to objectify the events I face in a new reality?

I suppose just owning up to my memories would be a step in the right direction. Pretending they didn't happen, that it wasn't me, that they don't matter keeps me imprisoned by them, and neurotic about keeping them submerged.

Honestly, I have been dealing with some specific memories-- wanna hear? Too bad, I'm teling you anyway:

My first memory is of trying to go around the block by myself when I was 3(?) I figured if I stayed on the sidewalk, eventually I would get back home. Before I got home, however I got really scared, but my relief at finally getting home was clouded by my father's and uncle's teasing, and the realization that no one knew I was gone, no one knew/cared that I was scared.

What I learned: When you are afraid, pretend everything is OK, because people will make fun of you, and they don't really care if you are scared, and if you are lost, you have to find your own way home, because no one even knows you're missing. No one cares if you are not there.

What I did with this memory: Forgave my Dad and uncles for making fun of me. My parents for not knowing where I was or, seemingly caring. Forgave them for not seeing and ministering to my fear. Reminded myself that I am safe and secure now, that people care when I'm not there, no self-pity, but self-assurance.

How was that, Dr. Tez? Did I do it right? Is there more? I felt much better and have moved on to other memories, also. They aren't so scary now. Even the "big" ones.

July 24, 2000
6:25 pm
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Freida.
You asked, "Aren't you saying that my emotional truth is NOT just what I decide it is? Aren't you saying that my memories--based on truth or not-- are a reality unto themselves? That I can deny or punish or embrace, but it won't change the reality that those emotional memories/triggers are there? What is the truth I must face about these emotional memories? Merely that they are there? Then decide if I will continue to react to situations based on these fearful imagined or remembered threats, or if I will choose to objectify the events I face in a new reality? " -- That is exactly what I am saying. I could not have put it better myself.

What you did about your emotional memory of fear of abandonment that was triggered by your contextual memory recall of the emotion felt during your walk around the block was to self nurture your fear arousal into deactivation. It was excellent.

The emotional memory of fear of abandonment that you remembered feeling at 3 (?) years of age, was laid down very much earlier in infancy. What you felt at 3 (?) was a emotional memory recall of a much earlier fear experience. An emotional memory is not the same as a memory of feeling an emotional arousal. The latter is a declarative(sometimes called contextual memory); that is a memory of an event that you can 'declare' to have occured within a past context. The former is an emotional arousal that is triggered by a conditioned stimulus that has been emotionally remembered in a very different physiological memory system(the amygdala).

It is the illusion that fearful emotional recall is always a true indication of a present threat that causes so much pain in relationships of all kinds. The whole emotional memory system is evolutionally driven to ensure survival of the species. Mother nature doesn't care about the 99.99999% of false triggerings, wherein no threat exists. Just as long as the 0.00001% of the time, we react appropriately to a real threat, nature is happy. But we, as individuals, are not happy with lots of illusory threats that seem real!

When we see and understand nature's scatter gun approach, we can learn how to sort out the real threats from the imagined ones. For most of us, this ratio is very small. Realising this and learning how to cope with nature's emotional memories can lead to contentment, emotional stability and happiness. Ignorance of it can result in a lot of unnecessary pain and strife.

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