Today I was working with a client’s anger and sadness about a theft that had happened.
She let the anger come up and started speaking. Right away I could tell she was censoring what she was really feeling. I told her this and said fiercely: Do. Not. Hold. Back. Then she let her anger speak, all of it, without censorship.
I listened to her anger without judgement, and this allowed the softer part of her come in through her sadness. It was clear to me that most of that sadness came from a place of powerlessness, from her Child Ego State. In this case from an unconscious story that these things should not happen.
But they did happen.
The sadness from the Child Ego State denies reality. "It should not be like this."
There should be no thieves. No wars. No lies. No gremlins.
It is a fantasy world.
A small child does not understand that people have parts, nuances, and inner competing commitments. The child’s world is more black and white and dependent on adults. In a grown-up body, the Child Ego State sticks with this orientation towards life: "this should not be so." "This is not supposed to happen!" "You are supposed to Love me or take care of me!" "You are not supposed to lie to me!"
After realising that she had a fantasy/belief/idea that the world should not be the way that it was, something immediately shifted. First she could grieve the dissolution of that belief. I held space as she grieved this story.
Then, finally she could make space for her Adult sadness. Unlike the Child Ego State sadness which said it should not be so, the Adult sadness was simply about being with reality, just as it was. Not bad, not good. Just so. The reality that there are people who do these things. That the world is not how she thought it was. That this thievery and abuse really exists, not somewhere out there, but close by. Closer than she previously thought.
We stayed in this grief space for a few minutes. This sadness had a different quality. It did not have extra weight. It simply was so. The theft had simply happened. It was not okay that it happened, she still did not want it to happen again, AND she was not a victim of it anymore.
She could now move towards adult anger. The kind of anger that is not against something or someone. The kind of anger that asks neutrally “what am I going to do about this?” The kind of anger that books self-defense classes, or decides to move house, or create an organisation of guardians in the neighbourhood.
This is Adult anger. Anger that creates what our hearts want.
In putting importance into the Child Ego State’s belief, this client was actually preventing their own adult sadness to show up. Once adult sadness was allowed to be present, an alignment came in, and then a sense of pragmatism. This was not disempowering sadness. It was sadness that empowered her to have an accurate assessment of current reality.
Only when you have an accurate assessment of current reality can you make any effective change.