Many of us, from time to time, question who we really are. We may have moments where we feel we are truly being our ‘self’ and other times where we sense we are putting on a mask or a front. If we are more able to be true to our self we will generally feel less anxiety and more pleasure and peace in our lives.
Yet we hold on to feelings and experiences from our past that that limit us. If we can begin to understand that our current reality is woven from the fabric of our past experiences we can realise that we are often ‘trapped’ in living according to an old map. But what if we want to change and truly move forward in our lives?
Many people experience pain rather than pleasure, frustration not satisfaction, despair as opposed to meaning and alienation not connectedness. Yet all of us in this existence can get to enjoy the bliss and joy of living. This is far more accessible to those who have been reared by and have lived according to the demands of our genetic nature where we had our complex developmental needs met at every stage by sensitive and ‘good enough’ parents. Those lucky few! But what of the rest of us? How do we change our minds? This body-based psychotherapy, is one of the most profound personal development modalities you might experience to change your life and become who you truly are.
Here are some key principles of Pesso Boyden body-based psychotherapy for personal development:
The Basic Needs
We have five basic needs that are part of our ‘genetic drivers’ or our human operating system. And these needs have to be met in childhood by good enough parenting.
The needs are for:
These basic needs have to be met first of all physically in the first 5 years or so of life, then symbolically from years 6 to 10 or so and then we are able to do it for ourselves (we learn this in our teens) and be an autonomous independent adult being. It goes without saying, that all of us, to some degree or other, have gaps in these basic needs.
Our ‘memories’ consist of a combination of energy (emotions are energy), which leads to action (the aggressive behaviour that comes from the energy of say, anger) and the interaction that results from that (perhaps blame or punishment) and then the resulting meaning that we make of that (anger is bad, therefore I am bad). The negative or traumatic experiences create the old map that we become trapped in and are bound to repeat. Take the numerous men and women who consistently choose abusive partners. Strangely this ‘choice’ of relationship ends up seeing people repeating past traumas in an unconscious attempt to find a solution and an end to it. Whoever we choose as our partner, they will never be able to fulfil basic needs that weren’t met in our childhood, they are never going to be the mummy or daddy that we so desperately wanted to please or satisfy us. Yet we are locked into a constant quest to have these deep needs satisfied.
The mind is often thought to be in the brain but do you realise that we have a brain in the body? The very definition of consciousness is the microtracking of the moment by moment experiences coming from our senses in the here and now. As Damasio says, consciousness itself is the ‘feeling of what happens’. The feeling experiences of our bodies is the definition of consciousness, but we need to become aware or conscious of this felt sense in order to take control of the glorious human show that is uniquely ‘me’. In the Pesso system we say that we need to awaken the observing, executive part of the ego that has the overview of consciousness (the pilot) and which can run the show in a way that gives us more pleasure and fulfilment in life. When you properly learn the ability to microtrack your inner experience states, you come into contact with who you really are in this moment, who you have been for some years. You come home to yourself.
Who has watched a terribly angry or upset child having a full-blown tantrum turn from being red in the face to almost blue? They need an adult to hold them to help them recover and regulate their high arousal levels: in this contact they get limits. As an adult the person will then have an embodied sense of what it is like to have been held lovingly in a state of high emotional arousal and to trust that emotions like anger or aggression can contained, and are not ‘unlimited’. And ‘good enough’ parents will later teach that boy to express his feelings in words. But if the child has the opposite experience and is punished or blamed for the expression of emotions, instead of being lovingly limited he will have a less healthy relationship with his emotions. Having this experience of ‘loving limits’ in childhood can help people to feel their power and to trust that they can handle it, thereby trusting themselves more.
These principles are some of the foundations from Pesso Boyden system psychomotor and many of them are common sense or somehow intuitive to us. I will write more about the basic needs and our human operating system in another blog.