There are a few too many myths about emotional healing which actually contribute to continued suffering :
- It takes a long time to heal. If you are digging a hole with a spoon, yes it takes a long time and much effort. Using a shovel to move the earth is much faster (and if the hole needed is bigger, then a back-hoe is in order). Most common approaches to emotional healing are like spoons, designed to nibble away at a stored feeling, allowing only a little of it to be released at a time. Obviously, this approach means that it takes a long time for stored feelings to be released. (Using AER to accelerate the natural release process, one can let go of feelings in minutes instead of a number of years). There is no good reason why it should take a long time to release stored feelings, no matter how intense they might feel. With AER, one is always in total command of the process and can regulate both the intensity of the exposure to the feeling and the speed of release so that it is suitable for the individual.
- It is a lot of work to heal from painful events. Despite the oft-cited claims that one has to “do the work”, releasing pain is not about effort but about allowing. The normal human tendency is to avoid feeling pain, and so it can appear at first to be hard work to get to a place of peace. As a result of this aversion to pain, we do not want to feel our stuck feelings or be exposed to the pain of others, as that can trigger us into our own suffering. This aversion can lead practitioners who have their own pain triggered while they are working with clients to engage in actions to cut short the session or steer the focus to safer (i.e., less painful for them) topics. This means that the client’s progress is impeded by the practitioner’s own healing progress. The surprising thing for many people is that the time typically needed using AER to experience and release a stuck feeling is measured in mere minutes.
- Issues never really go away. If one limits oneself to only obtaining relief, then the issue (and stuck feeling) will not go away. However, if one releases the feeling, then the issue gets released as well. One can think of stuck feelings as being a sort of emotional glue that not only holds in place painful memories, but also unresourceful beliefs and habits. Once that glue is dissolved, the issues fade away.
- I’m feeling better so things are better. There is a widespread mistaken belief that relief from stress, pain and suffering equates with resolution of the underlying issue. Feeling better certainly is a worthwhile goal, but relief is not the end of the releasing/healing process, but actually only a mid-point. If you do not fully release the stuck feeling, then you will re-visit the discomfort again and again. (With AER, the objective is to reach full release so as to empty the system of the accumulated feeling, achieving resolution.)
- We need to understand why we feel the way we do. There is an overemphasis in traditional cognitive therapy on the importance of the rational mind and its capabilities and proper use. This, combined with the constant calls to “think better” has resulted in approaches which spend a lot of time revisiting past events, examining them in detail, analyzing and puzzling over them. fMRI (functional MRI) scans of human brains have shown that different parts of the brain are activated when one thinks about an issue from when one revisits an experience, so all this thinking is not actually contributing much to the releasing of mind, heart, and body components of stored stress and trauma. Chasing after the “why” is a good distraction, but it does not lead to release and peace. In fact, one could say that one’s time would be much better spent releasing pain than thinking about it.
- You need to really shout that anger out of you. There is often an inaccurate equating of the intense experiences and catharsis that clients may have and the process of releasing of stress and healing of emotional wounds. Intense experiences in and of themselves are no guarantee of release. Many people have had cathartic experiences which only provide them with a temporary feeling of relief – the problem returns shortly afterward. In addition, deliberately expressing feelings such as anger by shouting or beating on pillows, for example, rehearses that emotion, actually re-energizing the neural pathways associated with it. Yes, one often feels somewhat better, but that is mainly emotional and physical exhaustion, not actual emotional release. And rehearsal of stored pain can actually create for you a setback on your path to a better life, instead of allowing you to move forward.
- You need a therapist for everything. No, you can handle a lot of your stored issues using AER and your natural release process. For those issues which you find more challenging, you can consult a facilitator. Although the media has done a good job of teaching us that psychotherapy/counseling is needed for almost every issue, an ever-increasing number of people are happily letting go of their stored pain all on their own with the help of AER.
- You need to peel the many layers of the onion to get to the deeper issue. Issues are not stored in humans in layers – they can be accessed in any order. You can think of them as being in a line-up (queue) for a bus. The first one you notice just happens to be the first one in that line-up. One issue is not necessarily more or less important or relevant than any other issue/stored feeling that you will eventually release. The notion of the layers of an onion was developed to justify why some processes take so long to slowly work toward resolution of emotional issues.
- You are just where you need to be. While this is true in one sense, as in you are where you are, it should not be used as a way to imply that anyone should remain stuck in something that does not enhance their lives. In each second you have the opportunity to decide to release anything (a thought, a feeling, a body sensation, a belief, etc.) that is holding you back. Once you have made that decision, you can use AER to facilitate that release. Having released it, you then will have much more freedom to be who you want to be and go where you want.
- You are resisting the process. Don’t let anyone blame you for their process not working for you. Humans do resist change as part of their survival response, but when change is experienced as safe, one can advance.
- You need to use a lot of willpower. Willpower is intended to be used on an occasional basis, for specific smaller goals. Recent research has shown that even that use is problematic. One does need to have persistence in the face of problems, but there is no reason to be constantly drawing upon your emotional and willpower reserves to heal. With AER, all you need is the intent to release and then to follow the simple steps, allowing the stuck feeling to flow out of you.
- If I can figure out why I feel this way, I can change it. Sorry, but one can have all the understanding of a feeling one wants and still be stuck with it. Understanding is done mainly using the frontal lobes part of the brain and feeling is experienced in another part, the hippocampus. Our brains are really good at solving problems, but a stuck feeling is not a problem to be solved – it is just a stuck feeling that we can release and have more peace in our lives.
- I need to learn some lesson before I can heal. When you consider how our brains actually work, the chances of anyone learning something while in a heightened emotional state is pretty slim. If your brain keeps going into survival mode, the thinking parts are starved of blood while your system is flooded with fight/flight/freeze chemicals. Trying to learn anything of use while in this survival mode is an exercise in frustration. We need to release the stuck feelings first, and then we can see about learning some lessons from our life experiences.
- I need to change how I think in order to get better. Our thinking, feeling and being are all interrelated and interconnected and influence each other. However, the current wave of “change your thinking to change your life” is really only addressing one part of the puzzle. You have to get ALL of you in alignment to change anything – if your feelings are not congruent with your thoughts, then you will not succeed, no matter how hard you try.
- Successful healing comes from repetition. If one is using a dull saw, it will take a long time to cut through something. The same applies when one is healing – one properly conducted releasing session should facilitate all the releasing needed, with the issue resolved at the end. If one is constantly repeating a process to try to achieve resolution, then that process is not working very well. One does not need to “process” stuff over and over if one is truly releasing it.
As a result of these myths, many people continue their constant searching for the “cure” as they assume that there is something inherently wrong with them when they don’t get better no matter how many healing modalities they try or how many years they are in therapy. In fact it is usually the modality which does not provide them with a resolution to their stress and pain.