Hi! I'm Cami

Hand washing and the Holidays

publishedabout 2 months ago
3 min read

I'm not talking about germs today but about emotional fusion and how a 'hand washing' exercise can be used to ground and help us get out of emotional fusion over the holidays.

So we can remind ourselves that we are in control of our bodies, who we are, how we want to show up around family and let go of the desire to control our family.

That letting go offers freedom.

Do you ever feel like you can't be yourself or have to act a certain way around family or certain people?

Do you feel like you have to feel the same as the people close to you or manage others emotions in order to be nice or help them feel better?

Do you like being around people with the same thoughts and beliefs and yet, can see that it doesn't go well for those who "step out of line", making a mental note not to ever be that person?

These are some examples of emotional fusion.

Emotional fusion happens when there is a belief that people are connected because they think and feel the same thing.

And there is a big need for external validation from everyone in the group, where we develop our identity around what this group thinks and feels.

Emotional fusion is a coping tool and can feel great........until it doesn't.

When there is only room for one opinion, one position and you agree with it, then it feels amazing and you feel like you belong......

If there isn't room for you to have a sense of self that is your own, this fusion can actually feel pretty lonely or feel very needy.

So when you don't agree, or feel the same as the group, you can start to feel controlled by how the others around you are feeling, in short - there's no room for your individuality.

And that can be terrifying.......And enlightening. All. At. Once.

And it can be very triggering, especially as you are healing and trying to be your own person.

When you are around family or others with a system you are trying not to recreate, it is normal to feel the pull of their need to be emotionally fused with you.

Awareness around this has let me use the Sideways approach, to be the watcher of myself and my family. It gives me compassion and helps me "put down the coping of emotional fusion", which allows me stay in control of myself as I seek to lovingly let others stay on control of themselves.......especially when they just want me to manage them.

Some sneaky ways this might play out.....for you or you might notice others doing this.....or both.....

(Notice what thoughts, memories, images or body responses come up as I offer these.)

You go home and.....

  • Think, "I got to get away in order to be me." - You might be feeling drawn to fuse with your family and your flee survival response is kicking in. ***FYI - There is a difference between choosing distance from family and reacting to a need for distance, reacting is a flee response. (I am all for choosing distance when needed.)
  • Need to be around someone all the time. - You might feel like you disappear if others aren't around to validate you or you need to be the one telling others how great they are. This could be a freeze survival response because your sense of self is being suppressed and you cope with validation.
  • Need to agree with everyone or have everyone agree. - This could be a fawn survival response. It's not safe to be yourself or if others disagree it will be your job to regulate everything back to calm.
  • Need to argue or always be heard. - This could be a fight survival response. You need to be in connection with others in a way that tells you they are still there and engaging with you.

*Hand washing exercise - check it out on my social media links, Facebook, & Instagram, where I give you a one minute, Get Into Your Body, explanation of what it is.

*It looks like you are pretending to wash your hands as you pay attention to the sensations and feelings of what your hands are feeling, inside and out.

When you are with family and start to gain awareness of your emotional fusion, try a little "hand washing" as a way to ground and get present with your body.

Not only does it help your nervous system to immediately get out of whatever survival response is coming up - because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time -

The imagery of washing your hands and actually getting rid of, pushing off, or washing off all that emotional fusion and refusing to take on the emotions and energy that is not yours, is super powerful.

Give it a try, I'd love to hear how hand washing goes for you over the holidays. And I'd love to hear your insights about any emotional fusion you notice happening in your family.


Remember, ❤️

You Matter. Your Healing Matters. You Are Worth It!

P.S. You can do the hand washing for longer than a minute too. Maybe try 3 minutes & spend one minute feeling the sensations in your hands while you "wash", one minute noticing sensations within as you pause "after the washing" and one minute "washing" again while using the imagery. Make it your own and see what happens.

P.S.S. If you haven't already....

Check out my FREE 3 Steps to Heal Trauma resource. It gives you the basic steps I use in my coaching.

If you've worked with me, then you already know these steps work, so let's get these tools out to more people. Please share this FREE RESOURCE with someone you think could benefit from it. Thx!