Witnessing the Childhood Origin of an Exile’s Pain

Once you have permission and have gotten to know an exile, ask her to show you what happened in childhood to cause her pain. Once the exile shows you the memory, ask her to fill in as much of the details as she wants. She may do this through images or tell you what happened, or you may sense it in some other way. Be there for the exile as a compassionate witness. She may show you very painful experiences, so it is crucial that you receive them with deep caring and respect for her and what she went through. For the most part, allow her to lead the way by showing you what she wants you to know of what happened to her. Exiles want to be witnessed and understood.

There are two primary aspects to any memory—what happened and how that made the exile feel. Make sure she shows you both, if possible. If she only shows you what happened, ask her how that made her feel. If you only get feelings, prompt her to tell you what happened to cause those feelings.

Stay with the exile as she gradually reveals more and more about the memory. Let the information unfold at whatever speed she is ready for. It may take some time for all the details of the memory to come forth. As this is happening, your contact with the exile will also become deeper, allowing more to emerge. Often at first you see the childhood situation and have some sense of how it made her feel, but as you stay with the experience, her feelings become much clearer, and the depth of her pain becomes apparent.

The more fully the pain is felt by her and witnessed by you, the deeper the healing can go.

This is an excerpt from my book Self-Therapy.


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