By Gary Shunk
Many years ago, a dear friend recommended a Hakomi counselor to me. Hakomi therapy is very body and feelings based. She told the counselor, “Be ready – he lives in his head.”
I did not deny that. Having been raised in the ’50s and ’60s, men did not tend to be aware of emotions. Be strong! Don’t cry! Man up! Bite the bullet!
Under the Surface
I made progress with this counselor. However, that progress always seemed fleeting when my traumatized 5-year-old emotional self would assert himself underneath the surface of what happened to be going on in my life at the time.
The Hoffman Process has allowed me to identify the different aspects of myself with greater clarity and understanding. My body is home to my intellect, my emotional self, and my spiritual self. I became aware again that my intellect had been running the show for many, many years.
I also became aware that my emotional self often would not get any attention or any awareness. Then my 5-year-old emotional child would act out and try to guide events. This never worked, especially when it came to relationships. I became aware of the pattern of living from a young, emotionally immature boy.
One of my most powerful experiences at the Hoffman Process was the discovery of the emotional and intellectual struggle. I learned how to declare a truce between these two aspects of myself that were battling for control. But, as can happen, things can fade into the background.
The Hoffman Process offers many tools and practices that are available for follow-up and continued personal growth and understanding. At a recent graduate group, once again I was made aware of establishing a truce between my emotional self and my intellect. We learned how to be aware of the struggle between the two and how to strike a balance. A joint venture, if you will – a truce.
Having been reminded of this truce, this balance, I was inspired to create a new style of journaling. I have added it to my daily check in. I love writing, especially in my journal. Putting pen to paper feels so organic to me. I can see it! Right there on the paper! My new experiment, only a few weeks old now, gives voice to my emotional self and my intellect.
This is an example of a journal entry based on a recent, true experience:
E (my emotional self) – I am feeling very anxious today. I am not sure why.
I (my intellect) – Thank you for letting me know. What comes into your awareness? Do you have any ideas?
E – It could be related to my upcoming first Covid vaccination appointment. But I do not feel that is it. It could be related to becoming an emotional adult. That feels scary.
I – I am sure you can suss it out. That last one you mentioned has some resonance to it. How about you?
E – It does. It does. Thank you and thank you for your support.
I – You are most welcome.
Our Number 1 Relationship
When I check in with my emotional self, the first thing I ask is, “How old are you today?” I find knowing the age is so valuable. A 70-year-old man with 5-year-old emotions is a recipe for not-so-great outcomes, especially for manifesting the relationship I want in my life. And as I remind my Tarot clients, the number one relationship we each have is with ourselves.
It may seem fanciful. Yet, journaling a conversation between my intellect and emotional self is working for me. I look forward to exploring myself more and more, and continuing the truce.