8 Questions About Emotional Wellness
An interview with Jon Terrell by Genie Joseph
Host of Love Life Radio and cable TV host of the Genie Show
Q: What is emotional healing work – and why it is important?
A: Many people struggle for years with issues that keep them from moving forward in their lives. Emotional Healing is often the missing link that will help them, relatively quickly, work through past pain and conflict.
And all of us have stepped over difficult situations and haven’t fully digested them. We may have a good understanding of what happened, but still are feeling hurt or angry or afraid. So events in the past can continue to affect us and keep us from being fully alive in the present moment.
These ghosts from the past haunt us, take up a huge amount of space in our psyche, and keep us from living the life we want. That's why emotional healing is so important.
Q: What is an example of how a past suppressed emotion might be affecting your life today?
A: Suppressed emotions are like the unseen parts of an iceberg. We’re only aware of the tiny visible tip and are unaware of the power and force of what is below the visibility line. What is below ordinary conscious awareness affects us in unseen ways.
A person might be feeling very anxious about something that seems to be happening in their life today, but really what is driving the intensity of their response is the force of the past. It could be missing an appointment or getting a traffic ticket or being passed over for a new position at work. Or having a date not go as planned.
While for most of us these experiences, while uncomfortable, are not a major traumatic event, sometimes they feel that way, and the effect can linger on for days or weeks. At our retreats these current situations often lead us to uncover a deep core of pain that can then be resolved with the power of loving awareness.
The intensity of unresolved emotional pain from the past projects onto our present situations. The old story from the past overlays the present, makes our experience today feel uncomfortable and makes ourself feel small, devitalized and victimized.
If you have a large amount of suppressed emotion from that past that is driving your current perception, not only is it hard to see the present with clarity, but the iceberg constantly generates this powerful fear. This can create an ongoing anxiety or worry about the present. Just talking about the tip doesn’t help much because it is being fueled by an emotional intensity that is below awareness.
Q: Can positive thinking or positive intentions help with the iceberg?
A: Sometimes positive thinking can be useful, but the deep solution is found below the conscious mind, the thinking mind. People spend an enormous amount of time and effort trying to solve these issues mentally, with techniques like positive thinking, making lists of what to do and not do, all sorts of thought-based behaviors that really don’t get to the root of the problem, which is in the feeling realms, not thinking.
I find that working with our thoughts or perceptions, and trying to change them, have some value, but it’s often slow going. I know people who have invested years in psychotherapy who are perhaps better at coping with life, but still are plagued by deep fears, anger, depression, anxiety and so on…all effecting them and encroaching on their present life moments. These methods are more effective after emotional healing, to help integrate the changes into daily life.
Emotional healing is a matter of using the right tool for the job and positive thinking and positive intentions are not effective enough solutions when the problem is being generated from deeper emotions. You need an emotional tool to handle emotional distress. You can’t just think your way out of emotional wounding or crises. The undertow, caused by the solidity of the emotional iceberg will eventually undermine positive thinking, which is why many people get frustrated by relying on those types of techniques exclusively.
Q: How long does it take to heal an iceberg? Even one from infancy or childhood?
A: Of course there is no one-size fits all answer, but I have found at my emotional healing retreats, the Grief and Loss Retreats and the Shalom retreats, that after one weekend, almost everyone has significant results and transformation. Most participants report a huge shift. Some people will find that they need to do the work in layers, and may return to do more retreats over a period of months to handle the next layer.
We usually recommend 3 retreats within a short period of time.For example, one woman, who was always the nicest person to everyone, discovered she had a lot of suppressed anger. After one weekend retreat, she was able to get her power and passion back that was being stolen by the hidden anger. Anger was always coming back to her through other people’s anger at her, and it had kept her in a box, and ungrounded.
Boy, was she grounded and alive at the end of that retreat. Then a few months later,she continued her emotional healing journey. She was ready to tackle the deeper layer of grief she had suppressed. Grief at not having lived the full life she had wanted to. She had given away her aliveness and had to grieve that she had been boxed up for so long. But just about everyone gets tremendous benefit through participating in even one retreat.
Q: What is it about retreats that allow people to handle emotions they weren’t able to handle on their own?
A: These events are done in a group setting for a very valuable reason…it just can’t be done one-on-one. It is really important to have a safe, loving community for deep emotional healing. One reason people don’t want to deal with old emotions on their own, is it isn’t comfortable – and they’re afraid they’ll get stuck in pain.
At the retreat we help people feel safe and loved enough to be willing to go back and recover lost memories and emotions. We make sure people get all the way through the tunnel and don’t stop the process half-way.
Creating a sense of safety is essential for the depth that this work goes to. Especially if a person doesn’t feel safe in other areas of their life, creating a safe space is very therapeutic. This allows the person to fully face the experiences they couldn’t handle as a baby or young child.
As a young person, emotional or physical pain can sometimes be too intense for their sense of self to hold it and assimilate it. The death of a parent, for example, may just be too much to handle without splitting without spinning out of their bodies into the mental realms. Stories, and there are many valuable ones, can help a child make sense of pain.
As an adult, in a safe enough environment, you can actually metabolize trauma and pain and thus release the old sorrow and associated feelings. As you feel the loving support and healing as an adult, you can heal the inner child, and come into your own body, perhaps at a deeper level than you ever were able to do before. This brings you more completely into the present moment.
Deep, enduring transformation happens when that occurs. It’s exciting to witness this change energetically, physically, in the eyes, even in the skin. Emotionally they are more able to receive and express love. We see a beautiful quality of confidence and presence emerge that hasn’t been there in a long while, or never before.
Q: Can your emotional healing help people who are depressed?
A: Yes, this can be very helpful, even for chronic depression. If you haven’t dealt with your grief and you don’t know how to safely let your anger up, it can turn into a feeling of numbness, leading to a depressed life. But with the emotional healing work we do, people allow themselves to go in and free up their life force which is stuck in old emotions. The Iceberg, which is just our frozen emotions, begins to quickly melt…the waters of life flowing again. And with the safety of the retreat environment, we can go back without getting stuck in the past.
Q: What kind of healing can people expect on a retreat?
A: I see miracles on every single retreat. People arrive stuck with difficult emotions such as grief over death or loss of someone, a tragic accident, loss of a parent – issues that have affected them their whole lives. Then after the emotional healing work, they look and feel completely different. It just feels good to free all that stuck energy and get the passion back.
For a lot of people, when they begin to feel more aliveness, they now are ready to do some more work, so they do a series of retreats.
Q: How fast can people really change from deep emotional wounds?
A: One of the things I’ve learned about emotional healing is that every emotion has its own speed, time, texture, rhythm for when it wants to heal. Grief is slow, heavy, tiring. People need to slow down to digest it, take it in, be with it, as it transforms.
Anger is big, fast, filled with energy, it can be scary for many of us, so we may avoid it. If we let it in though, it transforms and we quickly get its vitality and power, and aliveness. We stand up with a new strength.
Fear can be paralyzing, but in just a short while, it can go from stop to go, bringing in an unexpected joy of living and excitement.
So in a weekend a lot can happen. There is often just a moment of divine intervention, a jaw-dropping moment of change where the old story just drops away like a veil and wow…everything opens up. We see it at every retreat. I have really learned to trust the process of it, the process of healing. I am inspired by the work every day.
For more information about emotional healing, you can reach Jon Terrell using the contact form. He leads retreats and offers psychotherapy, energy healing and massage in Northampton, Massachusetts (serving the Pioneer Valley) and in midtown Manhattan, New York City.
Jon Terrell, M.A., L.M.T.
25 Main Street, Suite #342
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