|Finding the Pulse - Page 4|
"Lived experience" can be an invaluable resource in helping clients make the distinction between past trauma and their current lives. In one session, I was working with a woman who was reliving painful memories of how her father mocked her when she was young whenever she began to cry. As she talked, the tears began to flow and she looked away, feeling the shame and humiliation she'd experienced years before. But this time, instead of inviting her to revisit her childhood experience of feeling her father's judgment and contempt, I asked her to notice how it felt to be able to look away—to notice the liberating physical experience of being able to break contact and create some breathing space for herself. We shifted away from her memories of her shame and humiliation to the experience of her more resourceful adult capacity to turn away in the present moment without negative consequences. This small act of newfound personal power represented a liberating option: a choice in the present that would have been impossible or dangerous when she was young.
One of the satisfactions of being a therapist is seeing that, as clients resolve the challenges that brought them into therapy, they can spontaneously begin to live more actively. We don't have to teach them how to come alive; it happens naturally when the nervous system feels safe. As clients become less stifled by outdated responses and rigid beliefs, their ability to engage directly with life emerges more and more. Once the nervous system heals, the psyche automatically follows, even in clients who've been caught for years in trauma-based patterns.