A Word About Emotional Healing Workshops
Imagine that when you were a child your mother was too concerned with her own emotional wounds and difficulties to provide you with the loving care and attention you deserved. Maybe she was openly hostile or somehow conveyed the message she didn’t love you. Ever since then you’ve found it hard to trust women or to open yourself fully in an intimate relationship.
Instinctively you know this lack of trust and openness arises because somewhere inside you there’s a young and tender “inner child”, a part of you which was wounded by your mother’s actions. You also instinctively realise that as an adult man, making yourself vulnerable to women may open you to re-experiencing that pain.
Or maybe you don’t realise that, because every time you get into a relationship, the same thing happens – you get hurt again, or you regress to being a little boy with his mummy. That’s because of the unconscious beliefs inside you which only know a certain way of being with a woman.
That’s just how it is. At some time, for some very good reason, you unconsciously created a set of beliefs about how you “have to be” in a relationship with a woman if you’re to get love, or what passes for love. Of course, this was all based on what you learned about relationships with women from your mother.
No matter what the exact situation, this example illustrates why we all behave in ways which recreate emotional challenges or pain, or indeed a total or partial lack of success.
And you won’t really understand why you aren’t successful – in love, or business, or life more generally. I could offer you hundreds of examples of why men (and women) come to my, and other facilitators’, emotional healing workshops. Only the details differ, the principles are the same, whatever we are dealing with. Speaking of which, what are we dealing with? You name it, we work to repair, heal, and rebalance it. This is the essence of shadow work.
What’s going on here? When we do not get what we want, we have put some essential quality of ourselves out of sight, repressed and denied some fundamental aspect of who we are. This denial or repression is called putting aspects of ourselves into shadow. And although we may know that we put anger, sadness and so on into shadow, we may not be so clear that we are putting strength wisdom, power, expectation, positivity, hope, faith, love and so n into shadow. That is often why we cannot make money or achieve other measures of success. (Read more about the human shadow here.)
Robert Bly spoke of how grief was the unexpressed burden of so many men. Loss of loved ones, lack of love. Shame, humiliation, disrespect. Boarding school. Bullying. Issues with sexuality. Lack of sexual interest. Absent fathers (oh, the number of men who had inadequate or absent fathers). Absent mothers. Smothering mothers. Narcissistic mothers. Angry mothers. Abuse, be it sexual, physical, or emotional. Your lack of leadership in your own life. Not knowing what you want, or not knowing how to get what you want. A sense of powerlessness, impotence or inadequacy. Lack of self esteem. Poor boundaries, an inability to say no. Lack of assertiveness.
Not knowing what love is or how to find it. Being overwhelmed by the need for love. Inability to stand up to the masculine. Inability to stand firm in the face of the feminine. Not feeling masculine, or feeling too feminine. Dysfunctional behaviour. Loneliness. Lack of friendships. Rage, grief, despair. Not seeing any reason to live. Life purpose, and its absence. Addictions. Depression. Despair. Unmourned losses and the grief you carry.
Well. You get the idea, I’m sure.
Video – Robert Bly speaks about the emotional wounds of men.
Emotional Process Work / Shadow Work
Is it too much to suggest that before you can achieve success (whatever that means to you) you must heal your emotional wounds?
In short, no. Watch this video to discover why.
Shadow work video: a means of healing emotional wounds.
Shadow work in groups
In a shadow work or emotional process work group workshop, participants and facilitators start by getting to know and trust each other, so the group develops both strength and safety; enough safety for everyone to explore their problems and challenges, their desire for change, without the fear of being hurt once again.
My colleagues and I are noted for creating a safe “container” in which men (and women in our mixed groups) are safe from being shamed and are in control of the process at all times. Men and women who place their trust in us deserve our respect, and they can stop the process at any point if they feel it is not going in the right direction for them.
There are many ways we can explore and “hold” the parts of you which carry your emotional wounds. There are many techniques available which allow us together to replay the drama of the past, and this time give it a different outcome. It’s like rewriting the last act of the play so that you get the outcome you desire – which in the example at the start of this session might be the ability to open up to women and show your vulnerability so that you can give and receive love fully, openly, and without feeling fear.
The results of our process work can be truly miraculous, because they go right back to the heart of your deepest emotional issues. Our techniques work fast because they are action-oriented and direct. In fact I believe that three months of one-to-one classic counselling or talking therapy is equivalent to a 90 minute session of deep personal work in a group setting, a safe space where you can re-enact your drama and experience a different outcome. Most of the wounds which men and women experienced during childhood were borne alone, so to be witnessed doing your personal healing work in a group can be powerfully restorative and reparative in itself. In addition, each group generates a very special heart-centred energy which helps to hold the participants and hasten their emotional transformation.
One To One Work On Your Shadow
A very good alternative is to do your personal emotional healing work in a one-to-one setting with a qualified facilitator, a shadow healer, well experienced in working with these emotional wounds and issues. There are many of these facilitators – for example, see the register of certified shadow work practitioners on the Healing The Shadow website.
Sure, the techniques are different, but the outcome can is just as dramatic: you will quickly resolve the issues you want to change. The benefit of working in a group is that you are not alone.
The benefit of working one to one is that you can move at the pace which suits you best. The session is more focused on you, and you have the full attention of the facilitator for as long as you are in the room.
Perhaps the best way of doing your work is to combine a series of personal session with a group session every three months or so. This seems to really speed up progress for most people.