P1 you must accept yourself and experience yourself as you are now, even if it means to go through pain, fear, anger. The experience of who you are now cannot be avoided. By the very act of self-acceptance, the unwelcome emotions and attitudes gradually dissolve. As you now know, the greatest distress a human being can experience is not hurt – it is lack of feeling, inner deadness.
P2 At a time when one is very young, self-numbing may indeed be a temporary solution. For an immature mind unequipped to comprehend and handle certain emotional experiences realistically, temporary anaesthesia is needed to survive. But if it becomes a habit, it is extremely harmful. Numbness dulls pain and fear. But in doing so, it dulls life itself. It makes immobile what is supposed to move.
The phenomenon of dying in the physical, material world is an expression of many inner attitudes. One of the most important is the desire not to move. It expresses itself in your awareness as laziness, inertia, apathy, even as not wanting to do things or move your body, mind, and feelings. Aging itself is a process of dying, and it is a manifestation and effect rather than a cause. Dying is a result of not quite wanting to live, of rejecting aspects of living, such as feeling, breathing, moving.
Once you stop explaining things away, confronting yourself with simple questions in this respect and answering them, you will be easily aware of your fear of moving. When the life center is feared because pain and fear cannot be dealt with, numbness is supposed to be the solution. And movement removes the numbness—therefore you reject movement, not knowing that nonmovement is the beginning of the dying process.
P3 But as you learn to accept it (experience of pain) you also discover the enormous difference between pain and pain, fear and fear, anger and anger. It is the difference between an accepted emotion and a rejected one. The accepted feeling is not half as painful nor as filled with anguish. It never produces anxiety, tension, hopelessness, bitterness, or torment. It is not frightening, confusing, or conflicting; it is enlivening. As you dare to accept your feeling, whatever it may be, and go deeper, it transforms itself.
Once you have revived your frozen life center, it will never be quite so difficult to accomplish this again. But the onetime experience will not remain. Your conditioned reflexes are too deeply ingrained. When you see the automatic reflexes, you must also accept that here are processes you cannot control by direct will. They work indirectly—the closing as well as the opening. You do not simply decide to open up now. It is nevertheless an indirect result of your searching, your will, your commitment to the process of selfrealization, your honesty in seeing and facing the truth, your goodwill to change and give up dishonest patterns.
Suddenly, without understanding why, you find yourself back in the old state of numbness. Some fear, some defense, some inner shrinking has taken place unconsciously. Your work requires that you connect with these unconscious processes little by little.
P4 Your nonacceptance of these feelings (pain, fear, anger, rage) creates the process of dividing yourself. Any rejection of what one feels and experiences creates self-division and inner fighting against the self. For life is truth and love, experience and pleasure, movement and unfoldment, new adventure and new horizons of being. Life means increasing one’s potentials as a cocreator in the universe. It means finding the indwelling creative powers. Accepting the negativity of life makes the negativity eventually superfluous. Let us take the simple experience of fear.
If you shrink from fear and deaden yourself in order not to experience it, you become unconsciously enslaved to it. On the conscious level this will surface in any number of projected fears, which have nothing to do with what you really fear. When I speak of not rejecting your negative feelings, I do not mean that you are expected to welcome pain. What I mean is that negative experience ceases only when you do not shrink from it, but instead open up to whatever comes your way.
When you deaden something that feels—even if it be negative now – you eliminate the possibility of feeling something positive in that area of yourself. The side that is dead misses out, cannot experience, and the life side must fight against this frustration. When you fear hurt, disappointment, frustration, you fear experience per se. If you fear experience, you must guard against it in one way or another. But if you fear the painful experience, you are defensive, unspontaneous, and thus walled off from any kind of experience. You will be unable to fully feel love, companionship, and intimacy. They are, at best, dulled—and often mere abstractions of the mind.
P5 It becomes obvious that fear of emotional experience breeds frustration, discontent and emptiness which, in turn, gives rise to the battle against one’s own inner processes. Only by accepting the frustration can you understand it and eliminate its cause. Only going through the experience of the frustration can bring to the surface the emotions that cause it: the fear of disappointment and pain which numbs the feelings, which in turn creates frustration.
You should say, “Yes, here it is. I let it be. I do not fight against it or reject it. I want to truly dissolve it by letting it be. I see what happens and let it dissolve itself.” This attitude has nothing to do with morbid wallowing. Once you do not avoid experiencing these problematic emotions right now, you will recognize them as repetitions of early experience, and, sooner or later on the path, discover that your current problematic reactions reveal the original trauma. A child responds to a protracted painful situation or a subtle emotional climate with an intense shrinking and numbing defense. You will see, with your new awareness, your soul movements, when this shock reaction is recreated in your present-day reactions. Starting from there you will gradually learn to institute new, different reactions and soul movements.
P6 The anaesthesia must be undone. As what is deadened thaws out, you are bound to experience pain—the pain you once froze. The pain cannot heal unless you are courageous enough to feel it without exaggerating its intensity—which is a painkiller in itself. If you accept its real nature without denying or aggrandizing it, it will soon diminish and disappear. This new approach requires a calm “listening in” attitude. Observe it rather than control it. Let it be.
By fearing the pain, you shrink from and reject it. You then fear the fear and numb your fear, as well as the fear of it. Thus you alienate yourself further and further from where you are alive. What I suggest here is indeed a new way, a new approach, to deal with what was once afflicted. Your very awareness of what you do inwardly will lessen the intensity and the compulsive drive to perpetuate it. Life can bring you only what you have perpetuated. When you no longer reject pain, fear, and negativity, when you deal with them in a relaxed, real, and unifying manner, you will truly have outgrown them. The dualism of conflict is the exact result of the denial of movement.
P7 Each human being has a specific point that is the trauma. The shock reaction in the soul may in one case exist in the feeling of not being loved; in another, in the fear of being left alone; in still another, in the negation of personal value. In the last analysis it is always the fear of pain, and the pain of not being loved and protected, warmed and accepted. Rather, you have to first see what “it does” in you, which states more correctly the process than what “you do.” Something does it in you when abandonment (or any other trauma) threatens you, and it cramps up in you.
As you observe this, you already gain a different and healing perspective. You can then see yourself cramping up, numbing yourself, denying the experience of abandonment. As you see yourself doing this, you know that in this denial you increase the fear. Now you may be able to experiment with the new way and say, “All right, I shall try. I would like to react differently; instead of tensing up against it and freezing myself, I will endure what I feel. I will stop fighting against emotions that are vital life energy and that can be used in a more constructive way.”
As you do this, you will first truly experience the pain of abandonment, even if only the threat of it is being repeated. As you experience it in this way, the threat is already much less painful. My friends, to make the deadness alive, you must first feel it in you.
—The Pathwork® Guide