The process of psychotherapy is to make the unconscious conscious so that we can free ourselves from these old beliefs. We tend to live as much of our lives in the past as much as we do in the future both consciously and unconsciously. Sometimes it’s more obvious than other times. We react to our current situation based on our physiology as well as every moment in time that has ever happened to us.
Every failure, every success accumulates on our internal scoreboard. Underneath the conscious knowledge, is the unconscious belief. After 25 years of asking a lot of questions it is very clear to me that the most common underlying belief is “I am not worthy”. This is not to say we feel unworthy all the time, or for that matter that we are even aware of it. It means that if you dissect a painful memory, more often than not the negative self-belief people hold is “I am unworthy”.
When I treat trauma, I asked my clients to picture an image that represents the worst of a traumatic experience and then identify the negative irrational belief about themselves that they are still holding on to. Common beliefs include “I am unsafe”, “I am unlovable” and “I am not good enough” with “I am unworthy” taking the top seed.
How does this translate into our lives? At a deep level, our unconscious mind is walking around sabotaging and creating our reality. If we believe we are unworthy, we will repeatedly create situations where we fail or are rejected. Freud called this repetition compulsion. I would argue that it is a form of Karma. This of course creates a multitude of pain for us as we tend to repeat old patterns over and over again in an effort to work them out.
Unfortunately, talk therapy can fall short of the” freedom” part as the old beliefs are deeply rooted in the mind-body and they are hard to release. If we don’t entirely desensitize the old memory, over time, it will start to fester again.
There are many effective mind-body techniques that are effective for digging out the root of trauma and releasing it. I treat trauma using a technique called EMDR-Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing. If you are stuck in old patterns or can’t get over old issues, I highly recommend it.
Dr. Amy Rein