Since I was eight or so years old I’ve made many attempts at utilizing various forms of traditional “western” therapy to no avail. In the past couple of years, I’ve begun to work with more mystical therapists like healers, hypnotherapists and intuits. It just so happens this is the right direction for me. As someone who over analyzes nearly every event and moment of her life at a constant, incessant rate, I’m not the type to benefit from “talking it out.” All my brain does all night long is talk it out. I need people who can help me calm down, meditate, and find proper and more intuitive coping mechanisms.
I went to see therapists originally as a child because of my father’s imprisonment for child abuse. Surprise surprise, I’m a comedian with daddy issues! These issues often come into play for me, but so do a whole bunch of other life issues. When I get upset, I don’t always know what to do, as I wasn’t raised with super effective coping mechanisms or a lot of proper communication. I find myself particularly lacking when I feel fear. Fear has always been pretty big for me. I’m afraid to put my head under water, afraid of heights and steep drop-offs when hiking, which really sucks because I LOVE hiking, afraid of driving on the highway, which super sucks because I live in LA, basically, you name it, I can come up with a reason to be afraid of it. I used to get really mad at my fear. I would yell at myself, “toughen up, power through it, quit being a baby!” This was not helpful.
I started speaking with a hypnotherapist who took me on a journey into a beautiful meadowy field that I created in my own mind. I met a little version of myself there and I started to have a conversation with her. We called her, ever creatively, “Little Lisa.” Little Lisa is the version of me before the shit hit the fan in my life. We all have this small person, even those of us without heavy traumas. There’s at least one point in each of our lives where life started to get real, where our childlike wonder and amusement took a more serious turn. This happens to a lot of people in middle school because we turn into “adults” and horrendous things start happening to our bodies, in addition to being asked by those older than us to start taking more responsibility. However, those of us with childhood traumas have younger littles. And some of us have a lot of littles. My major little is me at around four or five years old. This is how old I was when I first started feeling depressed. It was when I started getting made fun of a lot. It was when, for whatever reason, I realized life wasn’t JUST about having fun and being a goofball.
My hypnotherapist asked me what my little said I should do when I feel badly. Little Lisa said, “Just dance, ya goof!!!” and then began to dance around like a crazy, goofy Muppet. Because this left me with such a great feeling, I began to go to this little girl whenever I felt distressed. I would ask her to help me, especially when I felt scared. But it wasn’t really effective in my day-to-day life.
Then I spoke with my intuit. We weren’t even talking directly about my fear when she too brought up the concept of Little Lisa. Her suggestion to me was to go back to that little girl. I said, “I do, but when I ask her what to do, she doesn’t really know.” She replied that it wasn’t really fair for me to be asking my little for guidance. She was probably more afraid than I was. Why would you ask a scared child for advice? That child needs to be loved.
Then she told me what I really should be doing when I go back to this little girl. I needed to hold that little girl, cradle her in my arms, stroke her hair and her cheek and tell her that everything is okay, that nothing is her fault, and that she’s a good person who deserves good things and that above all, she’s safe. Soothe her, tell her that she is loved, over and over again.
So I did just that. I lay in bed that night, closing my eyes, imagining my little five year-old self, and cradled her lovingly until adult me actually fell asleep. It worked!
This didn’t exactly change my life overnight, but by being kinder to my inner littles, I’ve actually become kinder to the adult version of myself that exists in the now, and thus have been able to accomplish more. Like when I was alone on a very difficult hike in Hawaii. I was faced with a steep drop off and the trail was getting progressively narrower. I wanted to push on because it was so beautiful, but I felt I couldn’t, I was so overcome with fear, I froze. Before, I would have told myself to “Shut up. Just get through it. Quit being stupid! Quit being weak!” But with my new-found wisdom I took a seat on the ground, breathed deeply and said something more along the lines of, “You’re doing great. You’re being very brave, and you’ve gotten through so much. This is very scary, so you should be very proud of yourself once you’ve done it.” With patience and kindness, I got through it. There were tears and some shaking, of course, but it was amazingly beautiful on the other side of that fear, and I was so glad pushing through paid off.
I’ve used this tactic in my day-to-day life since then. When I’m afraid of a situation, when I get jealous, when I stress out because something didn’t go the way I wanted or needed it to, or when I suffer a tragedy, or even just a minor set back, I find a little. I go back to whichever one feels triggered. Sometimes it’s that 4-5 year-old. Sometimes it’s me from only a few years ago when I was sexually assaulted and felt defenseless. Sometimes it’s me from just a couple of years ago when I was physically assaulted and felt helpless and voiceless. Sometimes it’s me as a teenager, sometimes a pre-teen, and sometimes even a baby. Whoever it is, when I let her know she’s loved, and that yes, sometimes life isn’t fair, but she deserves better and is safe, it makes the me of now feel loved, and safe, and as though life might just be okay.
So find your little, or littles, give them big hugs and kisses, and tell them that though life is full of challenges, they are loved.