Can't tell you how many times I've heard the "Oh I've already dealt with that" statement from clients. Sometimes I even know, by the way they say it, that it's exactly what we need to work on.
And I always tell them the same little story. Always give them the same layers model of how personalities develop and healing of deeper wounds works.
Surprisingly, it seems like many professional helper/healers are not aware of this simple way of understanding what's going on. So here it is...
Start with the Notion of Personalities as Layered
Imagine the beginning of life as the center of a circle. Around it form expanding rings of experience, learning, and yes, also at times--damage. This damage comes from overwhelm to the nervous system, is called "trauma," happens in many forms, and is inflicted these days to way too many of us.
As I've explained in recent blogs and newsletters, trauma causes "blurbacks" (or flashbacks) that overwhelm and can cause similar overwhelms to recur. Blurbacks, by the way, happen when anxious feelings from previous overwhelms attach themselves inappropriately to present circumstances.
So now, as the layers keep adding on, like the growth a tree, damage that is closely related to the original events shows up on more superficial layers. Not too different from cracks in these tree rings.
For Serious Damage--It's a "Wound System"
So let's say that in layers 5 and 6, somebody got badly abused in the family. Well that led to an expectation that love comes only with abuse. Now we see that person, around layers 12 or 13 (puberty, say), getting abused in an early relationship.
And maybe you are that person (or are working with that person) now trying to heal this much later after an abusive marriage.
Suppose it looks like the damage in this tree. Does it make sense to think all these layers will heal all at once?
For interesting and helpful answers to this question, just read on in this short article.
Real Clearing--But on an Outer Level
You see, from the layers perspective, it's entirely possible that someone "did already heal this." They cleared the implicit, right brain memories from a more recent version of the traumatic overwhelm. But the root of this trauma lies still deeper.
Similar unhappy blurbacks are affecting them, but now from a different layer of the self. Effects of this deeper overwhelm are also coming up and asking for healing.
True, it's possible that the earlier healing effort failed or was incomplete. But very often, I think, people who come back to heal "this" again get needlessly discouraged. They think it didn't work before, when actually--it did and was important that it did.
Why not Go Straight to the Root?
If you are dealing with milder trauma, more recent trauma, and/or younger people, it's entirely possible to clear the whole system at once. There's fewer layers. Related retraumatizations are fewer, milder, and the person's habits still shift more easily.
On the other hand, many therapists and healers seem to have the attitude that they will always shoot for complete healing by going straight to the root source on some inner layer.
Staying Careful About This
I remain very careful and flexible about this. My own exposure to various therapies over several decades often went too deep too fast. The results were disruptions in my body, emotions, or life activities arising from too much, too powerful blurback all at once. These actually added more outer layers of related trauma and discouraged me in the healing journey.
If you are dealing with more serious damage, or older people, the encapsulation of powerful feelings of overwhelm in sequestered right brain memories is important. It's how the personality prevents flooding of distressing feelings not arising from the present.
Strengthening the Outer Layers
The best clinical practice around serious trauma is always based on "resourcing the client." Build up both skills and confidence at dealing calmly with previously painful feelings emerging strongly in the present tense where they don't really belong. In terms of the layers model, this means that successful healings on outer, non-root levels can be important.
Clearing those layers, and even giving them rest periods to assimilate and strengthen the new clarity they have attained--this then forms a container capable of holding stable space for work on deeper layers that does not flood or retraumatize. In other words, successful earlier work can be a necessary form of long term resourcing.
Not Necessarily a Sign of Failure--
It Might Mean Success
It is often not a sign of failure that the issue comes up again. I know too well that it is no fun at times.
Still, what it means is--the self and the wound system are ready for the next steps. And people need to know this so as not to lose heart on longer healing journeys.
Always Clear the Root--
All at Once? Only Sometimes
In general, I think, in yourself or clients--you try to effect clearing on as deep a layer as you can without meeting too much resistance or too much eruption of overwhelming feelings. Sometimes you can work on all layers at once.
But, next time you hear (or think) "I already cleared that"--see if this layers model doesn't help explain what's going on.
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