Bringing the unconscious to light is never a random process. Inflexible processes rule our journey. We only identify these processes as we repeatedly experience them. One of the rules is that we uncover issues in sequence from the least to the most buried.
This accords with the homeopathic principle known as Hering’s law of cure, which states that disease leaves the body in reverse order to which it entered it.
The journey of emotional healing—of making the unconscious conscious—has been likened to peeling away the layers of an onion. As you peel away each layer, you’re presented with a deeper, seemingly more difficult issue to deal with.
What determines the sequence in which we uncover issues? As far as I can see, there are two key factors: the age of the issue and the impact of issue.
What determines the sequence in which we uncover issues? As far as I can see, there are two key factors: the age of the issue and its impact.
The age of the issue
Firstly, it’s worth briefly recapitulating what buried traumatic issues are. This helps to understand why there’s a sequence to their retrieval and resolution.
Buried issues are traumatic experiences that couldn’t be fully processed (i.e. experienced) at the time they occurred. Because of the trauma, overwhelm and denial occurred. The most painful aspects of the trauma were avoided—for the time being—and became lodged in the unconscious.
The longer ago an unresolved trauma occurred, the more deeply it’s embedded in our psyche. Childhood traumas are more difficult to uncover and dislodge than issues from our adult years.
However, the age of traumas isn’t measured in physical years. It’s measured in genetic years. We all carry DNA that goes back to the dawn of time—and that old DNA contains unresolved trauma from the past.
Three layers of trauma
In Trauma exists as a series of ripples I describe how, in addition to trauma from this life, we also inherited trauma from various times in our past. This can include collective traumas such as community trauma and racial trauma.
Broadly speaking, these inherited traumas—which are always reflected in current-life issues—can be categorised as individual or collective traumas. I use the term ‘generational trauma’ to refer to specific traumas acquired from past family issues, usually relating to our parents or grandparents.
Collective traumas are issues that the whole of society went through at some stage or other in the past. These relate to the dawn of patriarchy (around 6,000 years ago) when our current survival-based psychological conditioning emerged.
I use the term ‘ancestral trauma’ for these issues that, because of their extreme age, take a long time to uncover.
The impact of the issue
The second key factor is impact. The more impactful the trauma, the more deeply it’s buried.
Just as there are three layers (or sources) of trauma, we store trauma in three layers within ourselves: emotional, muscular, and cellular.
- Emotional—this is often referred to as the ‘pain body’, the repository for the unprocessed pain associated with the contents of our unconscious. As far as I can tell, all our unconscious issues have unprocessed pain and/or shame associated with them.
- Muscular—we also store unprocessed pain in our muscle tissue. This creates muscular tension, which is then repressed. I’ve written more about this energy-draining process in: How shame affects life energy.
- Cellular—finally, our physical cells are collectively traumatised from the shift to patriarchy several thousand years ago. I term this original fracture the ‘mother wound’. I’ve written about cellular trauma in detail in: The mother wound – “The dreadful has already happened”.
These three layers store trauma from the least dense (emotional) to the densest (cellular). In my experience, we uncover issues in that order. Clearing emotional issues (the pain body) gives access to muscular trauma.
Clearing that paves the way for cellular-level clearing. As you can imagine, clearing this densest layer of trauma from our cells isn’t pleasant. You’re aware of dealing with something extremely ancient yet also entirely contemporary.
Most issues can be dealt with using the evolutionary tools I’ve documented on this site. However, deep-seated issues sometimes need an emotional shock to dislodge them. This sometimes creates a new (but lesser) trauma, which then has to be healed as well.
Yet, for all its difficulties, the healing journey is the only path to genuine wellbeing. We have no option but to take it.