How Does Healing Your Past Help Your Present Health?

by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP

“As humans, it’s our great fortune that any negative patterns we are capable of learning, once we become aware of them, we are also capable of unlearning” – The Hoffman Process

The issues for women are quite clear cut when it comes to emotional needs. By nature, women tend to be the caregivers to everyone – but themselves. In fact, most women put their needs on the back burner until everyone, and everything else is tended to. As demands pile up, women take them on, and find many excuses to put off their own needs for rest and renewal. This leads to exhaustion both emotionally and physically. Why do we put ourselves last on our list of priorities? And more importantly, how can we change that?

Oftentimes women are stuck in this pattern of self-denial because of their “personal stories”, or the lifelong emotional issues hampering their ability to care for themselves effectively. These stories take up a lot of room in our minds and our bodies! One method we find highly valuable to women who are seeking a way to address emotional issues is the Hoffman Quadrinity Process. This transforming program helps women integrate the four essential aspects of their being — emotions, intellect, physical body, and spirit.

A 2006 study done at the University of California Davis, found that participants in the Hoffman Quadrinity Process did as well as, or even better than, those who utilized other interventions to reduce anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, and interpersonal sensitivity. The study not only showed success for the long term, but also found significant improvement in vitality, energy, emotional intelligence, spirituality, and forgiveness.

Raz Ingrasci, President of the Hoffman Institute, shared with us what this process teaches women, so they can better understand emotional health.

Emotions speak first, actions speak loudest

Most people realize that their emotional brain reacts much more quickly than their intellectual brain. When our emotions speak, they produce actions or reactions, as the case may be, and our intellect hangs back while this process goes on until our emotions have settled down. It is safe to say that our actions are mostly guided by how we feel, not by how we think.

“Think back to the last time we felt humiliated, upset, angry, or insulted”, says Raz. “It only takes a millisecond to put us in a state of paralysis. We’re reeling, trying to come up with words to use in conversation, but we’re struck dumb”.

It can take from minutes to hours to be able to articulate the feelings we had, or what occurred because of them, and this happens for nearly everyone. Raz estimates that at least 80 percent of our behavior stems from our emotional brains. This can cause confusion, especially when we know our ensuing reactions may be counterproductive.

Raz says one way to fix this dilemma is to begin to identify our emotions. When we do this, we are activating the intellectual part of our brain.

“The naming of an emotion takes place in the intellectual brain, though the feeling itself exists in the emotional brain”, he says. “When it is named, those two spheres are connected and you feel more whole”.

This is the first step towards improving our lives. When we recognize an emotion and pay attention to that, we are not burying it, which tends to cause the same emotion to resurface whenever it’s triggered. Raz reminds us of an old axiom, “What you can feel, you can heal”.

When we recognize the power of our emotions, we can tap into them, and use their power advantageously, towards healing.

Note: If the emotions are overpowering or frightening, it’s best to seek professional help while working through this process.

“The best way to begin dealing with an unwanted emotion is to allow yourself to experience it. Become aware of your feelings and move with them, allowing your body to experience your sensations”, says Raz.

Family patterns and negative love

Once we can identify our feelings, the next step is to figure out where they came from. Many of our behaviors are learned from our parents, both mimicking them, and seeking their approval, attention, and love. Bob Hoffman, creator of the Hoffman Process, calls this Negative Love Syndrome.

Until behavior patterns change, they intend to repeat. Negative love syndrome is no different. We often seek relationships as adults that provide us the same or similar emotional feedback we received as children. It makes sense, because this is the way we learned about love and relationships!

There is a real reason why people may say to you “You married your father” or “You have become your mother”. Your parents taught you their perception of how adults behave, and what love is supposed to look like. They likely received the same information from their own parents, continuing both positive and negative patterns and perceptions throughout generations, essentially unquestioned.

We can change who we are and what we’ve learned

We learn early on, as children, how to elicit the love we need from our parents and our caregivers, and when that did not always work, we learned to blame ourselves. As children, we cannot understand or accept our parent’s dismissal of us – for whatever reason – as anything but rejection, that we somehow created. Maybe we thought we were being bad, or were unworthy of love. We internalize these feelings and they grow with us, persisting into adulthood.

Some of the unconscious reasons for adopting negative behavior patterns from our parents, according to Bob Hoffman, include:

  •  The hope that our parents will love us if we are like them.
  •  To vindictively punish our parents by reflecting their negativity back to them.
  •  To punish ourselves for feeling unworthy and unlovable.

These negative love strategies will not only cause us difficulties in our adult relationships, but also can affect our physical health if left unexamined. While we may feel discouraged when we realize these negative emotional and behavioral patterns began early in our childhood, they were learned. This means with practice and patience we can unlearn them and change our lives. As children we have few choices, but as adults, we have plenty. This is the goal of the Hoffman Process for emotional healing.

From human doing to human being

Tim Laurence, author of The Hoffman Process, discusses how to transition from a “human doing” into a “human being”. This concept is quite simple. We react or do as we have been shown or taught in any given situation. But The Hoffman Process helps us unwind this programming by examining all of the parts of ourselves – our emotions, intellect, body, and spirit. We take a close look at those factors along with the subsequent patterns we have developed, and we decide what we want to keep and what we don’t. These choices are very empowering, and allow us to have a more spontaneous, free, open, and loving life.

The Hoffman Process is focused on helping us become more authentic and real. It shows us how to be ourselves, and not wear the mask we created to meet everyone else’s expectations. This is an amazing way to repair and restore our emotional health.

This process is also a wonderful way for women to put themselves on their own to-do list. Negative emotional patterns do not have to dictate who we are, or our way of life. There are many tools we can utilize in this process to become whole again.

To see if the Quadrinity Process is right for you, read this list of statements and think about them in your own personal context.

  •  I feel that something is holding me back and I want to take the limits off.
  •  I experience too much stress and I’m not having enough fun.
  •  I know what I should do, but often can’t generate the will to do it.
  •  I often feel angry, resentful, embarrassed or depressed.
  •  I flip flop between dominating and intimidating people below me and avoid being  dominated by people above me,
  •  I feel intimidated, coerced, and manipulated and can’t stand up for myself.
  •  I work compulsively, often to the detriment of other aspects of my life.
  •  Meaning is going out of my marriage, my career, or life in general. I often feel I’m just going through the motions.
  •  There’s a lack of intimacy in my life — I’ve been unsuccessful in creating relationships.
  •  I’m either unemotional or disconnected from my feelings or my feelings are running me.
  •  I’m in recovery from substance abuse (clean and sober for 90 days minimum) and want to deal with the original pain that led to addiction.
  •  I recognize that my parents were not as loving and supportive as I wanted them to be, or that bad things happened in my childhood.
  •  I see myself passing my own suffering on to my children.