Julia, a forty-one year old woman, recently came to my office and described herself as “feeling stuck”. “I’ve made so many bad decisions in my personal and professional life”, she said. “For a long time now, I’ve felt stuck, like I don’t know how to move forward”. Not surprisingly, when Julia arrived at my office she didn’t appear as someone who was thriving. She looked exhausted and depleted.
Born and raised in New York City, Julia’s family provided the opportunities to attend the best schools in Manhattan. She graduated from one of the top Ivy League colleges in the United States. She described her parents as wonderful people who loved their children deeply, and in every sense, gave them a priveleged upbringing. She had worked in Europe for several years earlier in her career and had recently found a high-level creative position in New York. Looking at Julia’s life from the outside, it appeared to most people that she had it all together – a full, productive, happy life. However, in her own mind, in her own being, she told me of a pervasive sense of emptiness and feelings of utter worthlessness.
After several years of counseling and even sessions with healers and psychics, Julia came to see me because she had not been able to find the answers to her questions: “Why am I alone”, she asked. “Why am I not in a relationship”? “Why am I still unsatisfied professionally”? “Why do I feel I have made all the wrong decisions”? She was clearly angry with life and angry with herself. She arrived at my office with a sense of complete hopelessness hoping I would provide all the answers; to, perhaps, wave a magic wand and unblock her feelings of ‘stuckness’ and to erase her feelings of unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
We began by reviewing her personal history. I listened as she told me the story of her life just as she would (and does) tell the story to herself. She felt she was a victim of her circumstances and coped with her feelings by trying to control every detail and aspect of her life (out of fear, I sensed).
In our process together, we looked back and identified the themes and patterns that played-out though Julia’s life. In doing this, gradually she was able to identify, visualize, the limiting beliefs about herself that created and defined many of the experiences of her life. “Other people know better than me”, she said. This was the primary belief behind much of her suffering. This one belief kept her from seeing herself for who she really is. It stopped her from connecting to her intuition and from trusting herself. After recognizing this, she saw that she had been creating her entire experience of life sourced from this one limiting belief, which kept her in a place of powerlessness and resulted in her always feeling victimized.
In our first session Julia came to realize that it was time for her to rewrite her story; to write a better story of her life and invite a new vision to unfold, this time, sourced from a new belief and new thoughts about herself.
We ended our first session with a clearing from which Julia could start to create this new vision. I suggested daily practices to keep her from falling back into the morass of self doubt. I asked her to sit down every morning for five minutes of meditation – focusing on her breath, noticing the feelings throughout different parts of her body and ‘watching’ her thoughts. I felt she could further be helped by visualization techniques, creating a new daily ritual for herself and beginning a daily journal.
We all hold beliefs about ourselves that we are not aware of. For some of us, these beliefs can be troubling, getting in our way and preventing us from reaching our full potential. They protect us. They live in our unconscious minds and often originate from wounds we’ve experienced at some point in our past. You might think of them as an invisible command and control center that has the power to direct our thoughts and behavior without us knowing it.
To heal these wounds and create the positive shift many of us seek, the Shamanic Practitioner, the healer, is privileged to serve as a vessel, present in order to ‘hold’ the thoughts for the one who is suffering and help guide them as their unconscious thoughts and beliefs enter their conscious mind, in many cases, for the first time. With these new insights, we begin the work. We begin the process of reshaping and ‘rewriting’ truer thoughts and beliefs. With this work, a new story emerges. The work is gentle but not always easy and happens over time, and it is always beautiful to observe someone breaking loose from old beliefs and freeing themselves to live a better life.
The name of the patient was changed for this article to protect their privacy. H.F. Emmanuel Faccio, M.D. is a Shamanic Practitioner and Jungian Analyst. For the past eleven years he has practiced in Manhattan and East Hampton, New York.
You may find out more about Dr. Faccio’s practice by visiting his website.