Barbara had lost the love of her life, her husband Ed, to cancer five years before. Now she was talking to me about her desire to meet a new partner. She didn’t expect she would ever find someone who could be the perfect match that Ed was, but she also didn’t want to spend the rest of her life alone, and was willing to work at creating a healthy, loving relationship.
Barbara had been meeting and dating men on dating sites in an almost frenzied way. Nothing was working out. She knew that she was still grieving for Ed, that the trauma was still there, and even though she had tried everything she knew to let go and move on, she simply couldn’t do it.
We spoke about the importance of not suppressing painful emotions – which she already knew — but allowing the tears to flow was not resulting in letting go of the underlying trauma. I said, “Well, the key is to be in a place of neutrality while the feelings are happening.”
It sounds simple, but it’s easier said than done. And every self-help book in the known Universe gives essentially the same advice: Allow your feelings to flow, and live in the present moment.
But how the heck do you put that into practice? It’s natural to think, “If I just let my feelings take over, won’t I turn into a basket case?” And, “If I focus in the present, all that happens is I feel my suffering!”
After years of exploration and personal work, I have been able to synthesize an approach that I call The Power Of Presence, which enables me to support clients in doing just that: Being fully present with unpleasant emotion in such a way that it truly disappears.
When Barbara came to me, her trauma was still pretty severe. It took several months of dedicated work on her part for enough of the old trauma to clear that she could finally start to breathe again. Once that happened, she met a man she liked, and they dated for a year or so. Barbara told me that from the start she wasn’t sure that this guy would ultimately be “the one” for her, but it was a healthy relationship and she learned a lot.
Barbara contacted me a few months ago to tell me that she has since met a great guy who she has a lot of fun with, and it just feels right. She told me that the work we had done together was the thing that freed her from the past and allowed her to create the relationship she dreamed of in the present.
It’s my privilege to share this work with people all over the country, and overseas. If you’d like to learn more, please come to my talk