Emotional Fragment Recovery
The following self-help idea is a bit meta and we're testing it out.
Why do we have so much turmoil when emotions are evoked from our environment? Why do we hoard, clutter, hide things from ourselves but dare not throw them away? Why do we resist looking through old things, or opening that box, or talking about old times…?
Also consider why we feel so empty, why we create codependent attachments with other people, or fill our empty spaces in ourself with things we purchase, substances or food, etc. What is missing that we're filling this way?
These items may be compelling to keep tabs on (by retaining items, or photos) while also very difficult to deal with because they are attached to or evoke reactions from traumatized system parts or fragments trapped in the There & Then. We may not be willing, able or ready to recover these emotional fragments, or we don't think we can deal with emotions tied to these symbols of memory (sometimes represented by objects, or thinking of a memory). So these emotions evoked by or held in the fragments are dissociated, but can be activated by a photo, an object, etc. [See also the parallel ideas of soulloss — parts of our essence having fled from traumatic impacts that are trapped or hiding either in another time and/or another place that are not ready or able to return and rejoin our spirit cf Neoshamanic Perspective New.]
We end up with "memorabilia" that are things we're unwilling to part with. Because some part of us is actively attached to the object. It is understandable then why we're not willing to part with the object that has our emotional fragment attached to it, but we're also for some reason unable (maybe not ready…or don't know how) to re-attach to the emotional part so we can separate from the object. (Not to objectify people, but it could be people too. But for example we have a box of little objects like movie tickets or train tickets, photo albums, little bits of jewelry, we have an old worn out tee-shirt bouncing around somewhere…)
So we come across the item, and that emotional fragment is there hoping to reconnect with us. However, often the emotions and feelings are not something we're not ready to attach to yet and we end up pushing it away. The part or fragment reacts with pain which we feel too (because no one wants to be pushed away. Everyone wants to belong.). It may also evoke a strong shame reaction and create a bigger emotional mess.
What happens if we accept these emotions? This article discusses the idea and process.
Preparation Idea: Making Space
In working your way up to the following exercise, consider the idea of decording or doing a cleansing process to remove unwanted energies or connections from your life, and make it easier for emotional fragments to come back home.
In addition, exercise is best done when you have been working on staying present with emotions and ideas that come up, so that you can stay in the Here & Now in spite of what comes up.
Entities - for this exercise, the feel entities in question may be fragments, parts, people, stowaways, emotional parts (EPs), memories, or "just" emotions — but we will treat them as actual entities — "stowaways" or refugees — attempting to reunite and we will put forward the theory that when they're treated as system refugees returning after exile that magic can happen. So we're going to ask y'all to reframe these painful feels that come up like someone who was lost that is coming home, asking to be accepted and embraced. Please enter the exercise prepared to be compassionate with yourselves and your feelings.
Probably best done from a safe emotional space, but if you can do this it may provide a safe emotional space if you don't already have one.
- When going through things (photos, memorabilia, paperwork…) and feels start to come up — pay attention to the painful feels. Anxiety, anguish, regrets, guilt, fear, recoil, nausea, insecurity, etc. Stay in the present and lightly detached from the feeling through the exercise.
- Normally we shy away from these feels. When we have painful feels, we often push them away, we may hide, run, repress, reject, hate (the feeling), etc. Reframe this reaction and switch to looking at the situation from a plural paradigm. These rejected and repressed emotions are entities coming back to us, asking to be reunited with members of our system. The pain is because these feels are afraid of being hurt, rejected, pushed away, locked up, or excluded again. This is why the feelings hurt. They have been lost, stuck, abandoned, exiled…before.
- React — once you see this feel entity as both other and as a nameless member of your system in its own rights, welcome it home and allow it entry. For now, suspend all judgement, all labels. Like a refugee, this entitiy is knocking on the door — travel worn, exhausted from a long journey, starved for affection & belongingness. The only things it needs for now are welcome and warmth, to be fed with compassion, to rest and recuperate, to find a place where it belongs, the acceptance to find itself truly home again. So allow the feel entity in, with open heart and open arms.
- Refuge & Recovery. Newly recovered feels need time to adjust. Be extra compassionate with yourselves and the new entities in your& system. If you& are always selves-compassionate, this will be easier. It would be a really good practice too, as you& then will be gentler & kinder to all your& system entities.
- Continue to practice this mindset with going through "things" at first, and practice being constantly compassionate with yourselves.
Expanding to Intermediate Practice
Branch out this practice of welcoming "feel entities" back home to other pained & exhausted feeling refugees who knock on your emotional door: they may come with memories, or events. Keep practicing accepting back your& own lost/stuck or painful feels.
Note - An Important Follow-Up Skill
Do an occasional housekeeping session practicing "decording". In case any feels have returned with unhealthy attachments to people in tow — you want your own feels, spoons and essence back home in your system, but you do not want external energetic siphoning or for external manipulative or abusive people to gain purchase on y'all. Cleaning up your attachments (literally & figuratively) by decording is an essential emotional/energetic hygiene practice. Crisses on Cording
If you want a better "order of operations" then decord before a session of welcoming back emotions and bringing them back home. Alternating between getting rid of unwanted connections and welcoming back the connections to lost parts of yourselves is a terrific way to increase your emotional range, boost confidence, restore presence in the Here & Now, and become more emotionally secure.
Background About This Exercise
What are emotional parts? They're energy or essence that we have pushed away (dissociated) in the aftermath of trauma, or (different perspective) were knocked out of us by a traumatic impact. This results in being unable to normally experience something, and a painful gap where it used to be.
We often fill these gaps one way or another, and often in toxic ways. We might fill it with other people (or try to) — the sense that someone else might "complete me" and "make me whole" is definitely a sign that something was missing in the first place. Filling holes in yourself with someone else is not a healthy relationship paradigm. Some turn to drugs, food, gaming, work, etc. basically anything to fill emptiness inside of them. If enough of this emotional essence is lost, people become despondent, burned out, deeply depressed, fatigued or lethargic, completely unmotivated, and it can also result in chronic illness flares, and so on. Basically with losing so much emotional essence, some also lose their will to live.
Having filled the holes where they belong with other things, we can avoid or ignore the tug by those lost parts to return home. We associate those emotional parts with pain. When we get closer to painful memories, these parts overlap with our energetic body, looking for the hole they came from that we have filled with something else, and they are rejected, which adds to their pain. Generally they communicate with us through that pain which increases when we don't listen. We feel that pain and push them further away. We walk away from or bury the object associated with the parts, we push the memory back, we reject the traumaholder who is experiencing the pain of a rejected part of themself, and doing so we have also hurt that part again — potentially hurt the traumaholder too — and delayed our own healing again.
We can be bombarded by painful memories that have emotional fragments attached to them — this isn't ideal. Flooding is always a potential issue if we keep pushing things away and then suddenly get reminded of too many things at once. It's easier to clear the way for emotional fragments that come up to return to us when we're in a more calm space, where we can be mindful of what we're doing.
While emotional fragments may not be fully self-aware and conscious like our system mates, it's still important to treat them like sentient beings and greet them with compassion and love, acceptance and belongingness. The pain from these fragments isn't because of the feelings or parts of our essence or psyche that they represent — our "innocence" isn't painful in itself, because it's innocence — these emotional fragments are painful because they have been estranged, disenfranchised, exiled or lost. We feel pain when these emotions try to come up because we have been rejecting, pushing away, or disowning these emotional parts or emotional memories. They are sentient enough to feel pain.
These emotional fragments may be lost in the there & then — the same types of spaces that some traumaholders are found in. They can belong to any system member, and you usually don't have to worry about running around with them and trying to figure out who they belong to — once accepted back into the system, they know where to go, like a magnetic connection back to where they came from. The magic is that whomever the emotional fragment(s) belong to becomes a little more whole in themself, a little more solid or complete, a little more self-assured, authentic, grounded, oriented to the Here & Now. Sometimes we can't rescue a traumaholder because they're not ready yet. Reuniting with emotional fragments that belong to traumaholders can help them become ready.
In the meat world, we will often come across emotional fragments that have attached themselves to objects, photos, journals, reminders of past relationships, etc. These may be items you historically have had a hard time looking at, handling, and have tucked away someplace so you don't have to come across them by accident. If you want to do rescue missions for emotional fragments, you might go through a photo album, a box of memorabilia, or re-read an old journal. Do so when you're in an open mindset, when you're ready to react to the initial pain with welcome and acceptance. As you get better at it, it becomes easier. You both build a skill in recognizing when this is happening and accepting the feels, but also over time there's more of you (you as a system member become more solid and grounded/present) to welcome those fragments, and they know that you're trying to help them.
Another result of this is not only an increased emotional range, but more emotional stability and tolerance.
New traumas can always result in "splitting off" new emotional fragments, but if you remain mindful about this process you can reunite with them more quickly — this increases resilience for new traumas and lessens the recovery time when dealing with painful or tragic life events.
This idea is inspired by the neoshamanic perspective New or paradigm of soulloss, and our experience that all system members can individually experience soulloss and the teachings in that paradigm that lost soul (emotional & spiritual essence) parts may want to reunite on their own. They may be trying to do so. These recovered entities may be parts of existing system members — everyone both singular & individual system entities can experience soulloss. By accepting these lost entities back into the system, it will help repair boundaries, help with insecurities, repair emotional experience & range, and help individual system members feel more whole as discrete individuals.
For more about how this paradigm works for plurals, see neoshamanic perspective New regarding soul-loss.
The idea is that traumatic impacts cause parts of ourselves as individual system members (say our innocence, our self-esteem, the ability to be hopeful, security, elation, wants/desire, excitement and so on) to get lost or stuck in time & space (the There & Then).
This leaves holes in our energy body or emotional boundaries that may fester or be filled by negative attachments (hence the reminder to decord after the practice).
Parallel this idea with the idea based on an expansion on structural dissociation theory that individuals in a plural system (parts, and people) themselves have their own emotional parts. This idea goes into our proposed theory on Quarternary Structural Dissociation (long presentation, almost an hour).
Decording is a way of removing unhealthy attachments, including codependency, and more. Taken together as a whole, the practice of accepting back our own feels & essence plus ejecting negative external attachments has the overall effect of fixing broken boundaries and restoring lost emotional range, increasing confidence and emotional health.
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