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What Robert Lee Can Teach Us About “ED” — And It Is Not What You Think

Rachel Alexander March 7, 2019

{6 minutes to read} Words that end in “ed” often come up in couples therapy and divorce — I feel “abandoned, rejected, disrespected, accused.” These words describe something that the other did to you but do not fully express how you are now as a result. Of course, they may imply certain feelings, however, explicating the actual feeling-experience is needed in order to reveal what needs healing.

“Ed” words intertwine the other person into your present state, holding the other one responsible to the extent of nullifying your own agency. The lack of autonomy makes it impossible to fully explore the aspect of the experience that needs your attention. Eds are often replete with blame, anger, and other complex and tender feelings that remain untended while the emphasis is on the other’s part in creating your experience.   

When we unpack the “ed” we are not letting the other person off the hook, we are turning our attention to our own pain in order to begin the healing process independently and immediately. We are turning to what we must address — what only we can unravel, separate from the other. As long as our attention is only on the wrong we suffered and wanting the other to take responsibility in a way that we erroneously believe will entirely relieve our grief, we are stuck in a stale interaction that prevents the possibility of resolution.  

The “ed” carries a tangle of different threads that cannot be processed while in the knotted bundle. By articulating the various aspects of the cluster of hurt, the whole of it can unfold into something the system can digest; and from which it can ultimately recover.

With this direct attention to ourselves, possibly in the presence of the other who we were affected by, and with a healing neutral professional, we can interact with that feeling in a way that allows it to shift.  

Let’s use a tactile example. Say you arrive in the ER with a head injury needing immediate attention. The attending doctor must perform an intake assessment. He may ask you certain questions to assess the particular damage and your status in order to determine treatment. He needs you to be attentive to him just as you are at this particular moment. Are you able to hear him? What is your name and address? and so forth. While what happened and who caused the incident may be diagnostically relevant, it is a small part of the intake process relative to “Can you follow my finger with your eyes?” or “Are you dizzy now?” or “Are you aware of having lost consciousness since the impact?”  

In other words, treating injury requires presencing in the now. If your physician was so focused on what happened and the object that fell on you and left you sitting on a gurney to go explore the site of the incident, that would be mad! It’s you — your person, your body — that needs attention. Understanding and investigating in order to assign blame would be a distorted emphasis, entirely upside down of appropriate medical intervention. Pointing at the object or person at fault and yelling “You hurt me! You caused this!” is no good if what’s needed is immediate medical attention to treat the damage.

This is what tackling the “ed” portion of the injury word does — it examines what is on our psychic gurney and attends to it first, with the intention to accurately assess in order to provide effective care.  

So it might look like this:

Let’s take betrayed.  

What is that feeling of betrayed? What words are there? How is betrayed experienced by you? Where is it in your body? Is there an image? Memory? Gesture? What other words help explain your experience of betrayed? Describe. Does it feel like falling? Stomach dropping, losing ground? Disbelief? Disorientation and fighting to find solid ground? Is there self-consciousness? Fear? Sadness? Now we can let these feelings breathe, express what they need, in a way we can’t if we stay locked into only the word “betrayed“.

Betrayed gives us a too-narrow route and puts too much of the power outside our nucleus. If betrayed is my own experience to process, I want to know more about what it means for me. Is there loss, a feeling of being punched? A sense of shock? Is my sense of who I am and who I am in the relationship shaken and disordered?  

As unpleasant as all of these threads may be, they begin to shift the matter back into my own experience — which is something that can be relieved.  

So much of the breakdown of intimate relationships comes down to the mindless, automatic repetition of patterns we can make ourselves powerless to shift. Looking into the “ed” is a new way into what seems stuck and unshiftable. It is like opening a sealed window and letting in the fresh, alive air!

Let the healing begin!

* As Theoretician/Innovator, Robert Lee developed a new kind of focusing (Domain Focusing), a theory/practice for timely deep change for stubborn problems (Macroshifting), and a method for working with difficulties in felt sense (feeling tone) formation. As Psychologist, he created: a new structure and context for psychotherapy, a Focusing-implied approach to couple therapy (Empathic Opportunity Coupling), and special methods for anxiety, OCD, and depression. “Focusing” is a way to enter your own felt knowing/experience and grow.

Lee offers online and in-person training programs in Domain Focusing and makes it easy to start FocusingNOW!