Return To Sender – A Technique I Totally Forgot About

I just got back from my therapy appointment. We’ve been utilizing EMDR methods (Eye Movement Desensitization And Reprocessing) to try and more directly address the emotional challenges and wounds I’ve been struggling with. During the session, my therapist reminded me of a technique which I had been using about a year ago, but then, for various reasons, forgot about.

The basics of it had to do with the fact that the emotional pain I’m experiencing isn’t something I deserve and is basically not mine to own. As such, she suggested (and I agree) that since it’s not mine, I need to meditate on and be proactive about returning it from where it came. This isn’t something to be done physically, but is an awareness or mantra which I acknowledge and tell myself. Whenever I’m experiencing this pain, I need to be aware of it, and then purposefully send it back out to each person who inflicted and imposed it on me.

While this may sound like a bit of a cute trick, it’s an important way of perceiving and handling this pain. The truth is that I don’t deserve it and didn’t do anything to deserve it. By repetition and malice, my parents and their families, as well as others I’ve encountered in my life, have placed guilt, shame, depression, deep sadness, self loathing and many other things within me. They’ve saddled me with these things. They’ve beaten my down to the point that I took these things on to carry. In part, it was an excuse for me to carry things which they didn’t want to look at or carry themselves…so they did everything they could to make me carry them. But there’s a strange thing about pain and suffering. You can’t free yourself from these things by forcing them on another, you can only infect others with the same pain and suffering you refuse to face, deal with or process. When I lived in contact with my parents in their families, I learned how to do this to them as they did it to me – but I always felt that there was something wrong and unhelpful about it. I never fully accepted it and have sought all my life for a healthy way to free myself without causing harm or pain to others.

Another quick thing is that another reason why my parents and their families did this is that they believed it was normal and appropriate to make other people feel as bad, if no worse, that they did. This is the whole “kicking the dog” thing.

In any case, I lit up when my therapist reminded me of this. There’s something about meditating and being mindful of the fact that the pain I’m carrying isn’t mine to own and that it needs to be mindfully, deliberately, proactively rejected as being false and then being returned to the sender of it.

(Note that as with all techniques and therapies, there is no “magic pill.” It takes time and effort to see if anything is effective and I’m going to have to account for enough time and effort to see how effective this could be)

Now I have an odd sense of humor. When my therapist helped me remember and start to re-implement this, all I could think of was Elvis Presley singing “Return To Sender.” The lyrics don’t apply to the point I’m making, but the chorus keeps ringing in my head every time I feel the twinge of that pain. In my mind, I see me as Elvis in the song and video! (lol)

I also felt better after the therapy and another thought came to mind. I greatly respect the “coolness” which is Denzel Washington. Man, I wish I could be more like him sometimes. In the future, I want to make use of his style of confrontation when dealing with whatever challenges appear. The therapy helped so much, I could see myself talking to those negative, anxious, painful parts of myself like Mr. Washington did in the movies “Remember The Titans” and “Gangster.” Obviously, therapy helped revive a bit of my determination and fire. I’m grateful for that!

I realize that I’ve only been granted a temporary reprieve and not a release from all those inner struggles…but I’ll take ‘um as I can get ‘um.

Be Well, My Friends


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