As wounds and emotions surface, sometimes around something that happened a long time ago, the invitation is to stay with it, open to it, allow it to pass through, and perhaps identify and inquire into beliefs.
These beliefs may be (A) the ones creating the (apparent) wound and emotions, such as he treated me unfairly. When I notice these types of beliefs, sometimes ask myself is it true? while I stay with the contraction. I also make a note of whatever beliefs I notice for a later and more thorough inquiry.
The beliefs may also be (B) about what surfaces, and these may cause me to (a) recoil from the experience or the memory, or (b) indulge in and fuel the stories behind it. Here, I can ask myself, can I be with what I am experiencing? Is it true it’s too much? Is it true it’s easier to recoil? And I can also make a note of some of these beliefs for a later and more thorough inquiry.
These stories may be: (i) It’s too much. It’s overwhelming. It’s no use. It can’t resolve. (ii) Opening to this experience will make it worse. Opening to this experience will make it stronger. (iii) Looking at this image/thought will make it worse. What I’ll find is worse than this. (iv) This image/thought is true. Investigating this thought is meaningless since it’s true. This experience means something terrible happened. This experience means something terrible will happen.
The dynamics around this seem quite simple:
When I believe thoughts about what happened, the wound and emotions are recreated and fueled here and now. When I believe thoughts about what’s surfacing, I either recoil from it or join with the thoughts: (a) I recoil from allowing the emotions to have their life and flow through, and I recoil from taking a closer look at the thoughts creating these emotions. (b) Or I join with and fuel the stories creating the apparent wound and the reactive emotions. Recoiling from or fueling are from beliefs, and recreate the wounds and beliefs.
So the remedy is the reverse – being with and welcoming the emotions, allowing them their life. And noticing and inquiring into beliefs (A) creating the wounds and emotions in the first place, and (B) causing me to (a) recoil from the experience and/or the thoughts, or (b) indulge in and fuel the stories behind them.
And with so much, it helps when I do it gradually, am gentle with myself, allow myself to become more familiar with the terrain over time, and find support from someone who is experienced in navigating this terrain (for me, Barry and facilitators in The Work).