There’s a baby in that bath water

Back in medieval days bath water was shared by several people.  The last to get use of the water was the baby in the family, after which the water was discarded.  By that time the water wasn’t very clear…and the saying “Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.” resulted.

In a way, the same is true in our own lives.  When we feel particularly strong about a situation there is probably something important in those feelings even when they do not seem constructive.  In fact, one reason that we find such difficulty changing old feelings at times is that part of us knows that we will be hurt by doing so.

So, some “sifting” is necessary.  What aspect of those feelings needs to be affirmed, rather than abandoned?  Both Gestalt Therapy and Internal Family Systems address this significantly.

Perhaps the issue is that what you want most, underneath the obvious trappings of a wish, is being expressed in an unhelpful way.  We are many ages on the inside, and some ages aren’t sophisticated at problem solving.  Part of us may feel that the way to halt ongoing pain in an arm is to cut the arm off.  Not helpful!

So, take a look at your strong wishes, even when they seem destructive, and see if there are important “furnishings” in your emotional house before bringing in the wrecking ball.  And then, don’t bring in the wrecking ball, but be gentle with wisdom, kindness, and firmness, as needed.

You will probably need to work with a young, lonely, or scared  part of yourself that is holding an extreme view or is panicked.  Rage may need to be replaced with assertiveness, and hopeless with a more measured letting go of something…or a different way of feeling hopeful.  You may need to offer compassion and love may to the parts of yourself that you have not understood.  Look for the adaptive expressed poorly.

So, do not be quick with the internal machete knife.  Work with your inner parts as with children whose wants are important, but need to be directed and helped.  Have those conversations between your wise self and your younger parts.  And don’t throw out that baby with the bath water!


This entry was posted in Gestalt, Internal Family Systems, Optimal Living, Trauma. Bookmark the permalink.

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