Processing emotional trauma and pain

NTS eBook No.5 – Facing and Defeating your Emotional Dragons:

How to process and eliminate undigested pain from your past

Copyright © Jim Byrne 2016


cover-image-finalThis book is designed to help the reader to resolve their emotional disturbances which are driven by old, painful, undigested experiences from their past.

The author describes two potent processes which were developed as part of the core of Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT).  They are both supported by good approaches to diet and exercise!

The first is a way to reinterpret our past experiences which were too horrible to confront when they happened, way back in our childhood or early life.  These experiences are what we call our ‘emotional dragons’, or ‘undigested traumatic experiences’.

The second is a way to digest and dissolve those ‘dragons’ so that they can disappear from your life, and no long cause you any problems in the present moment.

These two processes are illustrated via some interesting case study material from E-CENT counselling. And there are appendices on how to rate your emotional problems accurately, plus helpful guidelines for the use of diet and exercise to manage your emotional problems.  Also, there are some useful insights into personality adaptations we tend to make to our family of origin.

The reader will come away with an arsenal of techniques and ideas to help them heal their undigested emotional traumas from the past.

E-CENT counsellors teach their clients how to go back and dig up the undigested dragon experiences from their past, and to ‘complete’ them: which involves feeling the feelings and having the thoughts that we ran away from in our earlier lives, and thus exorcising those troublesome ‘ghosts’ and ‘ghouls’ in the basement of our minds.  Once we have chewed through those experiences, our health and happiness tend to improve, and the world looks and feels like a much better place to live.

If you want to clean up your own past traumas or unpleasant or painful experiences, or to help somebody else to do so, then this is the book for you.  Get it today, for just £6.16p GBP, from your nearest Amazon outlet:



Part 1 – Defining the concept of ‘emotional dragons’


dragon-for-coverWhen negative feelings come up in the human body-mind, the individual noticing it is prone to push it away.  Humans hate suffering, and they actively try to bury any hint of suffering that enters their consciousness.

When serious emotional disturbances are buried in the non-conscious part of the brain-mind, they tend to cause mysterious emotional and physical disturbances, which cannot be treated – because the true cause is inaccessible.

On the other hand, part of the process of meditation is to allow whatever comes into your body-brain-mind to just be there, like a crow flying through an open barn.

Perhaps this is why meditation has not become a widespread practice in the West. Many people have been attracted to Eastern disciplines: from India or China or Japan.  But the idea of just sitting there, with your mind accepting its own contents – that probably shows up as too much like suffering for ‘spiritual materialists’, who just want to have ‘a good time’, right now, and forever!

Meditating on emotional dragons

Almost every morning, since 1980, after breakfast, I sit down and meditate (sometimes with my wife, Renata; and sometimes on my own).  I am not a masochist.  I am not trying to give myself a hard time.  Indeed, the reverse is the truth.  I am willing to face up to whatever comes up, because I know that that will, paradoxically, make my life better, happier, calmer, and more centred and grounded.

(Of course, immediately after meditation, we tend to do some Chinese exercises. The meditation calms the body-mind through what seems to be mainly ‘mind’, while the physical exercise calms the body-mind through what seem to be mainly ‘body’.  But in practice, both processes address the body-brain-mind!)

One of our practices is to read a Zen quotation before meditation, to establish a particular kind of ‘mind set’, or mental attitude.

One such quotation, by Rainer Maria Rilke, (from a book by Josh Baran, 2003) is about ‘Transforming Dragons’.

Here is an extract from that quotation:

“So you mustn’t be frightened … if a sadness rises in front of you, larger than any you have ever seen; if an anxiety, like light and cloud-shadows, moves over your hands and over everything you do.  You must realize that something is happening to you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand and will not let you fall.  Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any misery, any depression, since after all you don’t know what work these conditions are doing inside of you?” (Rilke).

Transforming dragons with courage

These emotional disturbances (of anxiety and depression) are what Rilke is referring to when he mentions ‘dragons’; and his argument is that you can transform those dragons into ‘something helpless’, something benign, if you are willing to face them directly, which he describes as acting, just once, “with beauty and courage!”

Most of us find it hard to muster our courage.  Because courage is often confused with the idea of fearlessness.  However, the truth is that you cannot act courageously unless you are frightened or apprehensive.   But most of us do not want to face up to fear, and therefore we do not use our capacity for courage; our capacity to face our fears and do what is right, rather than what is ‘safe’!

We find, in practice, from an early age, that the virtue of courage is in short supply in our arsenal, or in our took-kit.  We find it easier to run away; or at least to try to run away.  But you cannot actually run away from anxious feelings in your guts, or depressed feelings in your heart. You cannot run away from the actual details of your past.  That is cut and dried! You can try, and often succeed, to hide your feelings and unwanted experiences from your immediate awareness, but they are still present, below the level of conscious awareness, causing various problems for you.

I once read that Rilke quotation about dragons to one of my long-term clients – let’s call him Alex – but he immediately insisted that his feelings of anxiety were “not doing any work” inside of him.  He just wanted them to go.  He would never accept them.

That attitude illustrates not only Alex’s lack of courage, in trying to run away from his own agitated guts and lungs; but it also illustrates how little is known, by people in general, about the non-conscious nature of their body-mind.  How could Alex know that his anxious feelings were not doing some kind of valuable work within him (if only he would pay attention to them)?  Where would he ‘look’ in order to collect the necessary information?

No such ‘place’ exists.  The human body-mind is largely non-conscious, and we cannot ‘look inside’ to see what is going on.  We have to approach that quest indirectly, slowly, and more by inference than insight.

However, Alex did not want to engage with his ‘emotional dragons’.


Humans as non-conscious habit machines

Most people I meet are unaware of just how non-conscious we humans happen to be.  We are by nature deluded by our senses – and especially our sense of sight – into thinking we are constantly conscious of what is going on all around us.  But this common sense intuition is not supported by significant psychological research studies.

…end of extract…

If you want to clean up your own past traumas or unpleasant or painful experiences, or to help somebody else to do so, then this is the book for you.  Get it today, for just £6.16p GBP, from your nearest Amazon outlet: