A world-famous emotional education specialist Debbie Ford writes in her bestseller Why Good People Do Bad Things: “The most powerful workshop I lead is a three-day retreat, which I called the Shadow process.
On the third day of the seminar, I brought a beautiful baby doll with an innocent face and beautiful pink cheeks; maybe you had the same one when you were a kid. I raise it above my head and ask everyone in the room to imagine her being a young, innocent version of themselves, which they are still carrying inside them. I then place this doll on a chair so that we can admire it for a moment. Then, without warning, I lift the baby, looked at it in anger, and say: Why did you do that? You stupid idiot! What is wrong with you? You shouldn’t have said that!
As I insult it with words, I grab the child and smack his face a few times. Simultaneously, the students in the room begin to laugh hysterically since they already know exactly what I’m talking about. God, you are ugly. You look terrible. You should take care of yourself more. Nobody will ever love you. You’re a fat pig. You shouldn’t have been so selfish. Why can’t you do anything right? What is wrong with you? You are a bastard! You fucked it up this time. You’re such a loser. Nobody wants to be your friend. I keep yelling at the baby and beating him harder and harder until his hand flies off, and his beautiful tiny head hangs on a string.
Then I pick up the baby who has now lost all of its limbs while its head hangs on his chest and try to sit it back onto the chair. I pat it on the head and tell him in a honeyed tone of voice: Go out and have a great day, sunshine. Create a wonderful life. Find some friends. Earn some money. You can do this. You can become everything you want. The world is yours. You can create whatever you want. But unfortunately, my baby, destroyed by my constant abuse, doesn’t seem to be capable of anything else. The point is that abusing oneself leaves consequences. Every time we criticize, neglect, and berate ourselves for mistakes and errors, we destroy ourselves. We are this baby. It is already possible that we are fully grown, but underneath it all, we are still this innocent child who wanted to be good, please others, receive love, mean something, change, and have a wonderful life.
We didn’t decide at the age of three to grow up into miserable and angry adults. We didn’t decide that we will become addicts who lost control and are actively destroying ourselves. We didn’t decide that we will become a criminal that is robbing people blind. We did not consciously choose to become a victim who would be abused repeatedly by ourselves and abused by others. These things result from our toxic shame and abuse – inflicted by ourselves and others – that we have allowed in life because we thought we deserved it. These things are the result of the separation from our true essence. Any event that hurts us can catalyze to heal the rift between our lower and higher selves. But if we don’t give ourselves the love, tenderness, and attention we so desperately need, the sad truth is that we will most likely continue to remain our own worst enemy.
I used the excerpt from the book because it describes the events most go through in childhood and how the forgotten events from childhood can influence our future. These experiences shape us as a person and lead to our reflexes and typical movement patterns. We build on these changes and add new layers to them, which then smooth out these cramps, but still more or less strongly change our internal (emotional reactions) and external image (posture, movement).
Through practice, I observe that most of the actual reasons for chronic pain and strong sensory-motor amnesia originate from different events in the patient’s childhood. It commonly develops a strong imitation of one of the parents’ posture and habits and the belief acquired during schooling and upbringing that hard work is necessary for progress and that struggle and renunciation are the only paths to progress. Similarly, we glorify our reason, feelings, and independent thinking.
Think of a child in the first grade of elementary school. He is driven, he raises his hand voluntarily and studies with interest. Then observe the same child in a middle school class: he is not raising his hand, he doesn’t ask questions, stares at the ceiling, he is separated from the learning process. He noticed that making a mistake means to become the ridicule object, so he stops participating, protecting himself. He was taught that the solution to all problems and misunderstandings is not in his hands: independent thinking brings him problems and retaliation, so he stops being brave and making decisions at his discretion. He develops a prejudice that he is incapable of solving his problems.
Our sensory locomotor systems, however, are much more sophisticated and capable than we think. If you consider how many different skills a child can learn in the first five years of life, and how many in the later ones, you will quickly notice the difference; a small child learns without undue effort, taking slow, soft, conscious actions. He improves through playing; he moves consciously, despite its lightness, making it seem as if it was spontaneous. He doesn’t use excessive force, doesn’t exaggerate the point of pain, doesn’t limit itself to time constraints, and he doesn’t skip steps to the goal.
We can learn faster and better as adults too, but under the circumstance that we use our soma (mind and body) in a way where the brain, skeleton, and muscles act as a whole. When this happens, the amounts of power and force are converted directly into a lossless movement that would cause us inflammation and a heavy hard feeling; we feel at the peak of ability, light, and strong.
That’s why we need to use the conscious “childlike” somatic way of thinking and syncing our whole lives. This way gradually erases the cramps we experienced in childhood or youth, and due to stress, overload, and injuries in adulthood. When we are young and healthy, we don’t even feel them, but they become more disturbing as the years go by. We begin feeling less like gods; instead, we become aware that we are becoming old and rigid.
The AEQ exercises bring back the cooperation between the mind and the body, which brings back the feeling of the body-mind synchronicity, the courage for independent thinking, and acting. We are capable of solving our problems and fight the demands of our working day.