Gillian Wightman writes an extensive report of how she helped a client with dissociative disorder accept all his “parts” with the help of EFT. She deals delicately with complex issues manifested by the different parts of him and manages to help bring peace.
– EFT Universe
By Gillian Wightman
A client contacted me because he had an issue with food and self-image he would like to address. Three years previously he had totally burnt out whilst trying to lose weight and get fit and he had a pattern of sabotaging behavior.
He felt totally locked in a cycle of stress in every part of his life. He felt consumed by burnout, acidity, and negative emotions. He had an understanding that there were parts of him still feeling as they did during the traumas of the past and were influencing his behavior now.
I asked him to be aware of what he wanted from this work together today.
He spoke of a real fear of moving on, fear of stepping out, fear of taking responsibility, failure means punishment and pain. He had to make a decision about what he wanted to do with his life and it felt very, very difficult. So much stress involved and this had a negative impact on his health. He felt stuck in repeated patterns, and still felt the shock of the burnout. Every time he made the effort to go forward, it took him back to the trauma. Even eating a meal was stressful, so every aspect of his life felt stress-inducing.
He had a clear conflict between a part that wanted to move on and a part that didn’t feel safe.
I decided to use an exercise I use with my clients to gauge the state of the nervous system I call “The Watcher on the Hill.”
Imagine the nervous system as an army. In a healthy nervous system, our amygdala, the watchman, is in a state of relaxed expectation.
I asked him to visualize his watchmen. He saw many watchers looking out for danger, more watchers than soldiers.
Even though there are more watchers than soldiers, they are all looking out for danger, they expect danger, I don’t feel safe, there are parts of me that feel really unsafe and they can’t relax and they remember a time when I wasn’t safe, I want these parts to know, that right here, right now, its over, I am safe, we survived, we’re okay.
Even though parts of me remember the feeling of a time when we were unsafe, that was then, this is now, it’s a feeling, we remember the feeling and feelings can change, I allow these feelings to flow.
There were still some there, but there was less energy running through his head; he had been experiencing adrenaline surges in his head. I asked him to be aware of his soldiers:
Even though the soldiers look tired, they have been ready for danger, ready for action, expecting action for so long that they are just exhausted, they have been working so hard, they need a rest, there is no danger right now, they can rest right now, I give them permission to relax and have some time off.
I asked him what he sensed they needed to recuperate. He realized they needed to have some fun.
I allow them to have some fun, they can be there when I need them, with the appropriate rest and relaxation.
I explained that we do need our nervous system to be ready and gave him some examples of when we need a little surge of adrenaline. I asked him to tune in to when his nervous system felt like it had to fight all the time.
He felt there had been fighting ever since he got on that treadmill of dieting and overexercising, months and months of stress locked in.
I asked him to get in touch with the part of him that decided it was a good idea to push his body to the limit. He felt really angry with this part of him.
Even though I am so angry with this part of me, I don’t want to talk to him, I don’t accept him, I am open to the possibility of accepting that part of me was doing the best it could and I will try to understand him somehow, but right now I am angry with him.
Even though I am angry with that part because… (just wait for answer) it destroyed me, I am open to the possibility that the part of me who did that was doing the best he could. I am open to the possibility of understanding him somehow.
I asked him to tune in to his feelings now. He felt not so angry but upset with the fact that so many years of his life had gone into managing this situation, going from one doctor to another, getting some success, falling back, constantly struggling. He wanted to be free and enjoy a good meal and laugh instead of having to micromanage his body.
I invited him to just acknowledge how hard this has been:
Even though I have these problems with food, and I have had to try and manage things and manage these problems, I love and accept myself with kindness and compassion.
I acknowledge how difficult this has been, it has been really hard for me, it has been hard, it has really hurt, there’s been so much trauma, so much pain, I honor these young parts of me, the must have felt (I asked how they might have felt) so lonely, frightened, alienated.
I acknowledge how hard I have been on myself, I choose to be kinder to myself, I hold myself in kindness and compassion.
He realized how hard he has been on himself:
Even though I have been hard on myself, I wanted results, I wanted my body to be fixed and to heal itself fast, I wanted it to be done fast and my body has been through a lot, it needs time and space and kindness and compassion. Right now I am opening the doors for healing, it’s time for things to change, it’s time to bring healing to these parts. There are some parts that need healing with kindness, compassion, and patience. I am ready to allow something to change, I give myself permission to take all the time it needs, I allow all parts of me the time and space to heal, I can let these feelings flow and let it go in the timing that’s right for me.
I asked him to tune in to this, his response to this, and any possible conflict that might be present. He felt there was a part that was really keen to let go and shower him with kindness, but there was a part that was very stubborn, the punisher, like a taskmaster that said, “No, you can’t do this.”
I asked him now to take the part who was willing to be compassionate and to help him communicate with the taskmaster part. I told him that I need all these parts to know that I know they were doing the best they could, they were trying to protect themselves, and were stuck in a pattern and that I also understood they might not trust me right now, but I was also doing the best I could to help my client and them.
He realized this came from being a child, his parents left from India, and left him at home for 2 months with his grandmother. There were people around but his safety was gone, he felt threatened by this. Later his mother went through many operations and went missing from his life by being in hospital, so there was a lot of stress and separation continually. It felt like there was no security or safety; that was why he needed so many watchers.
He would keep talking to himself to calm himself down. (Seperation from the mother in early childhood is a common trigger for dissociation.)
I asked him to be aware if his baby self felt safe with his mother and he did initially, but when they left, it broke his trust and he couldn’t express his anger, and also felt guilty for this. When his mother got sick, the anger increased and also anger toward his father. He couldn’t handle these emotions; he became rebellious and seemed self-destructive. He had no remembrance of clarity of why he was so angry.
I asked him to get in touch with the little boy who was left at home when he was 3. He could picture himself in his parents’ room, very confused, what has happened, where have they gone? What have I done?
Even though my 3-year-old feels confused bad and guilty, I love and accept my young self without judgment.
Even though I am 3 and feel so guilty and bad, it’s time for this to heal.
Even though you are 3 and you feel so bad and guilty and confused, I want you to know it’s not your fault, there is nothing wrong with you, you’re just a little boy, it’s time for this to heal.
Tuning in to his little boy now, he still looked angry.
I asked him to let this little boy know we wanted to help him. He was not happy we were there to help at all.
I know you don’t trust us, I know you’re feeling angry, I accept you, I take your feelings seriously (he still doesn’t believe me), I know you don’t believe me, I know you don’t trust me, I understand how angry you are feeling right now, and you don’t know who I am, I am willing to give you some time, what do you need to feel better, what do you need from me? I take you seriously, even though no one understood what you were going through, I do understand, and I am with you now. I know how painful it was for you, I take your feelings seriously. Someone should have helped you then, nobody did, but I am here to help you now.
My client now felt there was a part of him that was resisting this experience. It was angry with him for doing this process and angry with me for leading him through this process. A part that didn’t want change.
I asked that part to talk to me and tell me how it was feeling. He said it was a violent abusive part who is angry and doesn’t trust women and thinks women will inflict pain of some sort. He sensed it was all coming from this child.
I acknowledged that I as a woman might not be helping. I told him that I understood he would be angry, his mum left him, that wasn’t fair, every time she left, he didn’t know if she would come back, it made perfect sense to me.
My client was able to see this angry part that was angry, didn’t like me, and was resisting this process. I asked him how he felt about this part. He felt he had made peace that he had a part, but up until now was afraid of the power of it and what it could do. Now he realized it was just a part that had been through trauma, was begging for help, but couldn’t accept help when it came.
I assured him I understood this. He said it all came from a sense of detachment and from this had come guilt, anger, and rage. This part grew into becoming rebellious and mistrustful, but I mentioned that this was just like any other child trying to get his needs met.
The child wants the love, wants the acceptance, but also wants to prove a point.
I explained that when a child is trying to get his needs met, and the parent is frightened and feels unsafe, this does not bring security to the child. Similarly for us, if we are afraid of our own parts, this does not bring safety to us. If my client felt afraid of this part of himself, the part would feel unsafe.
It felt a very big move forward for my client to accept this part’s existence and influence with any kind of compassion.
I spoke directly to the part here. I told him that I had not been through his experience, had not been through what he had been through, but I did know he was doing the best he could. We weren’t here to fight or judge or force, we were interested in understanding it.
My client asked me what I thought this part needed, it was asking for something. He felt the child had a passion, his passion was to be creative and he felt trapped.
I suggested that he do what many of my clients do when they meet these parts: allow them to do something the child part would enjoy. Agree to do something the child part would enjoy.
He realized the child part would love to paint and bicycle.
I encouraged my client to be aware of this part’s presence and fill its needs when possible.
He realized this part didn’t want to be here [where my client lived]; he hated his father’s business and had never wanted to work for his father.
Even though this part of me doesn’t want to be here, and hates working for my father, I want this part to know that I want to be get out of here too, I am not comfortable, but there are better ways to deal with these feelings.
Even though you’re angry because you don’t want to be here, I want you to know I do understand and I do want to make change, I want change too and if all my parts can work together, we can change things, we can all work for the same purpose.
He understood now his child self never wanted to work for his father. He realized he had taken on the role of victim and created this situation where he couldn’t leave and he ended up feeling secure with his father, becoming dependant, like an addiction. This part was angry because of this.
I encouraged him to communicate to this part and say:
I am sorry, you didn’t want to work with dad, and that’s what I am doing now, I am sorry, forgive me.
His little boy self looked a lot happier and more relaxed.
I encouraged him to let this part of him communicate his feelings, to give that part permission to express himself, to tap on whatever feelings came up. He realized he was now expressing things to himself that he never had before. He realized that coming out of the office today his soldiers would be fighting and he was saying to himself, “I hate this, I hate working here.” He realized it was that part of him expressing itself.
I encouraged him to tap on whatever feelings were coming up, as his part expressed himself: “I hate working here, etc.”
At this point he realized I understood his experience of dissociation, that he had parts of him that felt and behaved seperately from the others, were in conflict with each other and also with him and his adult decisions such as being married and working for his father, and were grateful to talk with someone who understood this situation.
He realized he had come to a place of insight and he was learning to allow his parts to express themselves. He didn’t know what these parts were at first, he had felt possessed at one point, hearing voices, feeling like he was going insane. However, he started looking for solutions, outside his comfort zone, and realized through all his research that he had dissociated parts.
Only recently had he got to the place where he could face his parts or even admit to their existence, but there were some he did not want to meet. He realized they were just parts, not the whole of him, but sometimes it felt like the whole of him when they took over.
He felt like something shattered and each part took a life of its own, and they all went on their own way, but all part of the same energy system. It had worked great as a survival system when he needed it, but it was a disorder now and it was backfiring.
However, he had found EFT to be of great benefit in reducing the overall feelings of stress and could now see how applying EFT in this way could ease the internal communication and be used specifically to heal the parts that were still hurting, who did not realize that the trauma was over.
I encouraged him to be patient with these parts and give them the time and space to express their hurt and pain.
Now he understood he had to be brave enough and courageous enough to hear what his parts needed to say. I encouraged him to be aware of his own feelings about the fact that his parts needed to communicate and use EFT for any fear or discomfort that brought, creating a safe place in his mind to meet these parts.
We can acknowledge the feelings of our parts. Sometimes they disagree with us and the decisions we make, and we can allow these parts to express their feelings WHILE we tap. However, we can communicate with them and help them to see that we have more resources now and things can be done differently.
I got an email after this session:
Just to let you know that I’m grateful for the session we had and the insights you gave me. I used the watcher and the soldiers and was able to see the internal structure that existed. That along with other things I coupled and the grace that I received led me to one of the most if not the most sacred moment in my life … the encountering of my self and the truth set me free.
For years I had been so ANGRY with my SELF and I hated myself for I had so many false beliefs about me. From that deep hatred for me came my deep hatred for my parents, my family, my world really, and I used shame and blame. Gillian, it was such a truly blessed moment to come to, to see my “self” that I was avoiding and shift that final stone. I cannot explain it. I can only say what it felt like and even that is pale.
I am a new person today. I feel different. Like I’ve never felt before. A certain freedom.