A Case Example
I saw a lady today whose mother had died some weeks ago. When she thinks of her mother, she feels a heavy feeling and pointed to her chest. When I asked how she represents her mother, that gives her that feeling, she looked out left some considerable distance. When I asked where the picture she was seeing is, she said it was in her head, and she pointed with one finger to the centre of her forehead. [And she said she didn’t really see it.] And the characteristics of that picture were that of being like a photo, in colour.
I next asked her to think of someone she could consider to be a resource person, living or dead, who when she thinks of this person, she instantly feels great, and is pleased to be thinking about them. And how did she represent this person in her personal space? She gestured very close to her face (about 20 cm) with both hands moving quickly, and said the picture was big, very active, (so it was a movie, and it included both of them chatting and giggling; so there was sound) it was also bright and colourful.
I explained that second picture was essentially a template for how she personally ‘coded’ someone not present, but evocative of wonderful feelings. And then I checked if she was comfortable to have her mother’s picture move into that same space, so it would then generate more desirable feelings? She agreed, so I invited her to follow my instructions which resulted in her mother’s picture moving to the location of the resource person, and at the same time become a movie of her and her mother, with sound. Immediately she felt peace, instead of heaviness. And she smiled.
We went ahead and did the remainder of the process of resolving grief. This allowed her to feel hopeful that the most valued aspects of her relationship with her mother would be available in her future.
She looked happy with what we had done, but after a couple of minutes she said, “But I still feel sad,” and indicated the same heaviness. So I asked her what she did to make that happen again. She looked out distantly to her left, the same way she did at the start of the session. I asked what she saw. She said she did not see anything, and there was only a “flash.” Since flash is a visual word, there had been a picture, but she did not consciously see it. She agreed that to be feeling sad, she would have had to hear something or see a picture. I invited her to ask inside to slow the picture down so she could see it; she was in a safe place with an opportunity to transform it to something comfortable. I encouraged her to be respectful of the valuable information that it contained.
She was immediately able to see the content – I did not ask for the content, only that she could see it, and that it made sense of feeling sad. She nodded. I asked her to thank that part of her. Then I told her of some options for altering that picture, to make the feelings change. What worked for her was to invite her inner part to move the picture from in front, to behind; and as she did this it also became a black and white photo, which removed the bad feeling it had.
She explained that as in most relationships, there were parts that were not perfect. So too with her mother’s death, there was the ‘death’ of any hope that it could become the relationship she wanted. Now with those parts behind her, as a black and white photo, she had separated the good and the bad. Keeping only the good memories in front, allowed her to focus on them and feel good easily. She could always reflect back on the other memories, but only if she made a conscious effort.
As we talked for another 5-10 minutes, she consistently felt happy and at ease, confident of what we had done. Most likely this new arrangement will last forever, since it is working better than what she had, and thus there’s no reason for it to change.