We walk through life dragging suitcases filled with the hidden pains of our life. They contain our vulnerabilities, those events that were hard to deal with and that we believe we should “get over”. We believe they are our burden to carry and dispose of, plus they are old, they happened so long ago that they should not be bothering us; they are “no big deal”. We believe that if we share the burden we’ll be told to “get over it”, we’ll be seen as “weak”; our shame surrounding the events in the suitcases and our inability to move past them would increase. With time the burden becomes so heavy that we can’t contain the contents of the suitcases and they spill out. The “spill out” may take the shape of angry outbursts, panic attacks, constant anxiety, self-harming behaviours such as cutting, addictive behaviours including the use of substances. The shame increases, the suitcases become bigger and heavier, and we hide them even more.
We believe we do a good job at hiding the suitcases, but people around us feel the toll. They end up being victims of the spillover of our baggage. The luggage is so heavy that we can only focus on hiding our baggage, and on managing the consequences of the “spills”. It takes a lot of courage to admit that we can’t carry the suitcase on our own anymore and to share some of the load.
The process of letting go is painful because we need to deal with all of the emotions associated with opening our suitcases and revealing the contents to someone else. Strong feelings of shame, guilt, anxiety, fear, sadness and anger come out. Maybe we have not learned to cope with these feelings in a healthy way and it makes it even harder. As we make ourselves vulnerable to ourselves and to someone else, we learn to trust and cope in new scary ways as we unlearn the coping mechanisms we have used for so many years. The process of opening up and sharing the contents of the suitcase help make life become easier and lighter.
Psychotherapy is the process of opening the suitcase, sharing it with someone else, learning new coping mechanisms and leaving the room with a lighter load. Sometimes our suitcase feels heavy and we are not able to verbalize why. A tool that helps uncover some of the contents of the suitcase that may be weighing us down, that we may not be able to verbalize or may not be aware of is Sandtray Therapy.
Sandtray Therapy asks you to pick figurines that speak to you and to create a world in the sand that is contained within a tray. The emotional process is very powerful and works when we are open to experiencing and listening to our unconscious mind. Each tray is very different from the next and the benefits and purpose vary per person.
Therapists doing Sandtray Therapy: Yoshie Martinez