The Eby Way Process
First step to emotional healing
Everyday I spend considerable time working with people who are experiencing significant emotional pain. The basic lesson, I’ve learned from more that 40 years of helping others, is that people can’t change until they face their stressful feelings openly and honestly.
My knowledge of emotional healing principles began many years ago with the practice of social work in 1970. Twenty years later I discovered that these principles transcend the boundaries of social work, and they are very useful to anyone wanting to improve their life.
What sets social work apart as a profession from psychology, psychiatry, the ministry, and medicine is the importance it places on our emotions and treatment of all facets of a person’s well-being. A person (we social workers believe), is an expression of mind, feelings, body, spirit, and environment.
What I’ve learned in my clinical practice is that feelings must be faced openly and honestly before other aspects of personality and living can be adequately treated. Feelings are the doorway to recovery and equal in importance to mind, body, spirit, or environment.
To heal, stressful emotions must be faced, released, and replaced with positive emotions. This is the first basic theory I began to study and write about back in 1991. Healing or recovery means the ability to experience an increase in the quality of life without constant pain, suffering, and destruction to self or others.
This does not mean we won’t experience illness, old age, loss of income, loss of relationships, or other human hardships; but the pain and constant misery can stop. In addition, our clients who suffer from mental illness, homelessness, addictions, and child welfare issues, can experience a healthier way of living.
My definition of healing and recovery therefore applies to the power we do have to respond and overcome any human hardship. It can be manifested in any form that is positive: such as, abstinence from addictions; intimacy in relationships; more prosperity, job satisfaction, and parenting skills; rehabilitation from injury or crime; or better physical, mental, and emotional health.
Positive emotions include five basic feelings which will always uplift and heal: peace, hope, gratitude, forgiveness, and love. Stressful feelings will include five core emotions that can serve us or destroy us: anger, sadness, fear, guilt, and worry.
I am only focusing on these ten feelings because I believe they cause the most difficulty for people under pressure. After we learn how to handle these basic emotions, then we can advance to dealing with many variations.
The world is complex and we know terrible problems exist. My theory is a most hopeful one. It doesn’t deny hardships, but it does suggest that the negative can always be overcome by the power of the positive.
Consider for a moment, walking into a dark room and turning on the light. What happens to the darkness? It goes away, right? So I am suggesting that when we turn on positive emotions within, it pushes the darkness and resistance to change away from us. But if we avoid the pain, or deny it, the dark secrets take over.
When a person is overwhelmed with stress, it is very difficult to feel hopeful or look for positive solutions. Stress exists when we feel angry, sad, fearful, guilty, or worried, or have a sense of numbness and shock. These emotions are actually designed to help us survive, but when they get out of hand they can destroy us through psychological and physical illness.
For example, anger is okay and a very normal response to a perceived threat or attack; anger is not okay when it turns into rage which seeks to destroy another person or ourselves. Sadness is a normal response to loss, and we are all going to lose things in our life time; but sadness is not okay when it turns into depression which makes us want to isolate, withdraw, and sleep life away.
Fear teaches us to be careful about doing things that may hurt us like putting our hand on a hot stove; fear can destroy by paralyzing us to the point that we never do the things we should, because we are afraid somebody will reject of hurt us.
Guilt tells us we made a serious mistake, and we can learn from our mistakes; we can’t learn when guilt turns into shame, which stops us from caring about ourselves or others. Finally, worry tells us we need to take action on some unresolved problem; too much worry overwhelms and prevents us from taking any action.
These stressful feelings cause a physical tension and natural body response psychologists call the “flight, flee, and freeze” response. Unless we release this stress, we become a prisoner to this automatic body response, and our mind will fail to find more appropriate solutions
Furthermore, our subconscious mind apparently controls these automatic reactions to stress. If we can face or verbalize this stress or pain, we give our conscious mind time to consider other more hopeful possibilities.
My primary theory about healing and recovery suggests that once we are more aware of our emotions, and allow ourselves to experience their discomfort for a while, this in fact opens a doorway to the conscious mind to use intellect to reverse or control choices and our behavior.
If we block the feelings, numb them by mood-altering substances, project them on others, or just plain run from them, the subconscious mind will seduce us into making bad life decisions.
A corollary to this theory follows that just thinking positive thoughts isn’t good enough to reverse stressful emotions; one must use thoughts which trigger positive feelings to override the negative ones. An additional corollary is that to heal and remain in recovery, one can dispense with most thoughts altogether, and simply hold on to more positive emotions, pleasant images, and good experiences.
It is also important to note, that most people find change to be exceedingly difficult. There is much wisdom in the old saying, “practice makes perfect.” More importantly, verbalizing our emotions is the first step to overcoming the barriers to change, health, happiness, and recovery from self-destructive behaviors.
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Ive been back from my nature walk for a while near our home in Cave Junction, Oregon. The sky is clear and blue; temperature must be around 83 degrees with a slight breeze. I wore my straw hat to...