I just had a great example of ‘hold over’ feelings. A good friend at a local treatment center called with this story. She was with a group of residents when one of them made a hurtful comment about her. As a new staff member, she felt disrespected. She tried to regain her composure, but had to walk away from the group. Her feeling upset. Because of her training in patterns, she wanted to understand what happened. Was it really the disrespect or was it her old pattern coming through?
When we talked about the story, she discovered that she feared being vulnerable. She said it was the same feeling she had when her mother would berate and abuse her as a child. When she got to that feeling (vulnerable), she still had a little way to go, because she had not arrived at the real feeling. “Never be vulnerable” was the decision.
Using the EFDRE model, it is important to find the real feeling driving her decision. Our friend practiced her breathing, calmed down, and started a search for the feeling. When she asked God to give her an answer, it came clearly. At the times when her mother was abusing her, she felt powerless. Powerless is a much worse feeling than vulnerable. Vulnerable comes and goes based on circumstances. A belief that you are powerless in the face of another’s attack is a constant fear.
Powerless was her real ‘hold over’ feeling. When a person finds that feeling, it resonates throughout their entire body and mind. The feeling is a 6 year old fear that remains even though she is 30 years old today. It hides right below surface awareness. A person can decide not to feel it, but because it is unspecified, it remains. Once she states the feeling and determines what it is, she has new options. At her present age, she decides if she is powerless at the time when someone makes a disrespectful remark. Of course, she isn’t, but hold ‘over feelings’ trigger higher stress, problem solving goes down, and she reacts with her 6 year old decision about how to cope with the powerlessness – “never be vulnerable”. In the past, she may have used fight, flight or freeze to avoid this feeling.
When a person works with patterns, it is the feeling that ‘holds over’, not the event. Any event where she gets rude treatment, suspects mistreatment, or fabricates a belief of mistreated triggers the powerless feeling. Since the original event had no resolution, the early feeling stay with her. It remains non-specific. As a child, she had no way to escape the abuse and no way to convert it from non-specific to specific. At the time of the original event, she made the best defense against the feelings she could. This means attempting to avoid the feeling by any means available. She may become tough and uncaring or overly helpful and pliable. She makes no decision about the actual feeling (powerless) because the feeling is unnamed. Each subsequent event that triggers the same arousal produces the same reaction. She cannot revisit it logically because it arouses too much fear (low problem solving). Rather, she becomes motivated to avoid any similar events in the future. The feeling stays. The event goes. Any similar event drives the pattern, which is concocted to control the unspecified feeling. Once the pattern is in place, when aroused, the person bypasses the feeling and goes to the predetermined decision and response (the pattern), while attempting to avoid feeling the emotion. For the short-term, it may be work successfully but fails in the long-term.
Our friend understood her feeling and found new ways to react to it at her present age. With practice, she released the feeling and these events no longer have a hold over her.