Blocked by the Same Old Bad Feeling? Release Its Hold

Course Correction, Understanding Emotions

Sometimes when you feel blocked, the situation has a deep, painful, familiar feel to it. You say to yourself with a sinking feeling, “I’ve been here before.”

When you recognize that old bad feeling, try this somewhat bizarre procedure from P. J. Eby to release its hold on you. I’ll explain the procedure, then give my own explanation of why I think it works, which differs from Eby’s.

Here’s the procedure:

1. Sit with the painful feeling, and notice how your body feels. Intensify the feeling — if you feel tension in your neck, increase the tension. If you have a headache, focus on the headache so it gets worse. Intensify the physical experience of that same old bad feeling.

2. Now shift yourself mentally back in time five years. Visualize, what were you doing then? When did you have this feeling five years ago? Then, focus back on how your body feels now. Experience that same old bad feeling anew, intensely, the way you did five years ago. (It will probably change a little.)

3. Repeat step 2, but going back 5 years more to 10 years ago. Again, the feeling will probably change a little.

4. Repeat, examining the feeling back at five year intervals until you are about 5.

5. From five years, go all the way back through this sequence of ages: 4 years, 3 years, 2 years, 1 year, 6 months, 3 months, 1 month, -1 month, -3 months, -6 months, -9 months.

(For these early times, you may need to remember what other people were doing, if you don’t have any of your own memories.)

Okay, I said it was a little bizarre.

I tried this out once when I was feeling blocked at the thought of starting work, and had dramatic results. The “old bad feeling” I had intensified when I went back to age 45, and it hit a peak of awful intensity at age 40. Then at 35 it had morphed into something rather different. By the time I got back to age 20, I had no significant emotion. Through this process, I recognized exactly where this baggage came from, and it lost its hold on me, at least temporarily.

Because…here’s the payoff. That old bad feeling was spent, and I was able to go straight to work without feeling blocked anymore.

I think this is a form of accepting emotions.

I believe that taking the time to deeply acknowledge the intensity of an emotion releases it. An emotion is a signal. When it is fully attended to, it has served its biological purpose. And if the emotion is tied to old baggage, or some inescapable fact, the result is a sense of acceptance of the fact or of the baggage, and a willingness to carry on.

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