Integration: Revisiting Developmental Tasks

One of a series of exercises and reflections for expanding the benefits of mapping and moving one or more feeling states…

The deeper the work you do, especially when you work with full, nine-part sets, or even more so when you dig deep into three-set constellations, the more likely it is for you to find yourself in a place where you feel like a raw novice in some area of your life. This can be true no matter how old you are or how much experience you may have in that area.

The natural flow of a life passes through certain developmental thresholds. For example, when we start dating, we need to construct an all new persona with all the required perspectives and behaviors by which to navigate romantic relationships. Often that persona is founded on defenses and compensations, designed to protect some underlying, intolerable feeling state or express some long-ago injury or resentment.

In these cases, when we clear that persona through Feelingwork and reset it to its ideal configuration, the old M.O. no longer works. We find ourselves without our longstanding frames of reference, habitual ways of communicating or behaving, standard judgments and interpretations. We no longer feel the same attractions or motivations, are no longer limited by the same repulsions or defined by the same preferences.

It would be nice if clearing an old persona like this left us with a new set of healthy beliefs, perceptions, and habits all ready to go, just push the button and you’re off to the races. But many times it doesn’t work that way. Instead we find ourselves rewound to the beginning, needing to figure out all over again how to navigate this territory. Fortunately, as adults we have far greater skills, knowledge, resources, and allies, so most likely things will go far more easily this time around.

Still, we need to take the time it takes to place ourselves in the relevant environments, pay attention to our authentic likes and dislikes, learn how to know what’s what in our environment, call on support and guidance from others, make mistakes, and gradually come to know our true selves in this context all over again.

I’ve had to do that with relationships once or twice, finding myself feeling more like an adolescent than I ever actually did during adolescence. Unsure of myself, I engaged tentatively, but authentically. I learned for the first time what was important to me, how to be discerning, what my preferences were. It was strange for a period of months at least, and I have to say that while my life experience helped, (for example, my communication skills were far more advanced than they ever could have been as an adolescent), I did have to go through a protracted re-learning period. It was awkward at times, uncomfortable at times, and at the same time wonderfully fun.

Let me give you a little more detail so you know more of what I’m talking about. Through my twenties and thirties I spun through quite a number of relationships, but never did I experience someone breaking up with me. I was always the one to end the relationship. To greatly simplify things I could say this was one of the ways I protected myself. I made myself emotionally indispensable, and then when my own needs were not getting met, blamed it on my partner and split up. So I never had to experience the pain of someone leaving me.

A few years after discovering the Feelingwork mapping process, after having mapped and moved many states, I crossed some ineffable threshold with respect to relationships, and I started to have the experience of women I was dating actually breaking up with me. The first time was a shock to my system, and I had to bring all my newest resources to bear on nurturing myself through that, finding new strength and resilience along the way. Even though it was painful, I knew that the fact of it happening was actually a good sign, indicating that I was indeed growing, handling developmental tasks I had skipped as a teenager.

Depending on the focus of the work you do and the pattern(s) you clear, you may find yourself starting all over again with your work, in relationships, in your social life, or any of a number of various contexts. Give yourself permission to be a beginner. Seek mentors and close friends who can support you. Allow yourself to make mistakes and trust yourself to learn from them.

It’s a wonderful opportunity to be able to truly start over, free of the baggage you used to carry around. Enjoy it.

Want to participate in conversations about the feeling mind? Over the coming year (2019), depending on interest, I’ll be I’ll be hosting live, group calls where we can go much deeper into the material and practice the skills. If you think you might be interested, please reach out to me.