November 19, 2019 Blog No Comments

I am always surprised to learn about the old baggage people carry. The thoughts are never good. They may look great on the outside, but inside they think things like: “I’m not good enough, I’m stupid, I have to be perfect, I can’t trust anyone, I have to please everyone”. In a three-day clinical training on EMDR*, that prepares therapists to provide deep level work, I discovered techniques that address these negative beliefs at their root. I am sold!

The training on “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing”* features techniques that reduce the emotional charge of events that are often the root of negative beliefs. The research has shown this treatment to be incredibly effective to unpack, sort and dispose emotional baggage of memories that creates current distress. What a godsend. This is the stuff that keeps people from feeling good about themselves.

Let me give an overview about how this deep dive therapy dispels past (or current) events that effect how you feel about yourself. Whether it’s a single incident. (accident, injury, event) or something old and on-going it is often people’s faulty beliefs from the event that keep them stuck with negative feelings. This treatment addresses it at the root.

Here’s a brief synopsis on what I learned. See if this would be helpful for you. I am offering two free sessions to someone who could use it – see the details at the end to send me your request.

How Past Events Link To Current Ones

You have seen images of someone holding up a string of fish. That’s what happens with our memories. Something in the present creates a strong reaction, and through EMDR you “float back” to discover that it is linked to a sequence of events that go back to childhood. It’s this linkage that creates the high emotional charge to things that happen.

Often, we are unaware of the relationship. That’s what happened to me. I was shocked when I had the aha moment that something that was difficult now was the result of hurt I had experienced earlier in my life.

How It Effects Thoughts/Beliefs/Feelings About Yourself

The inaccurate thoughts and beliefs about yourself, as a result of something that happened long ago, seem to be carried forward regardless of their irrationality. It could stem from something simple like being made fun of by kids, being criticized by someone in a position of authority, being hurt by your family or a traumatic event.

The event continues to carry emotional weight and the negative thoughts from the event seem to be impervious to arguments. People will say, “I know this isn’t rational, but I still think I am ….” (fill in the blank). The thoughts and feeling also connect to how we feel in our body, creating tension, anxiety/depression and pain. It’s all connected.

All This Can Be Changed

What I love about EMDR is how it provides an effective tool to bring the old issues easily to the surface. Once out in the open, it can be worked with and changed. The negative thoughts can be replaced with positive ones and the distress of old events can be diminished.

People often have tried various types of therapy to address the symptoms of their distress and yet it persists. They may have successful lives and cognitively and intuitively know that what happened long ago is no longer true, yet it is still baggage they secretly carry. This treatment offers new hope.

Bilateral Stimulation Creates Change

Through a process that includes rapid eye movement while thinking about the memory, the thoughts and feelings related to it are disconnected. The new positive thoughts and feelings are installed in its place. Yes, it sounds a little surreal, but I watched it happen with everyone in the training and I had my own experience. It works.

Your brain has locked a memory, a feeling and thought together. This process unlinks them and replaces it with what you really want to think, believe and feel about yourself. It includes positive cognition, visualization, and breathing techniques. Not everyone will experience change right away, particularly if there are many serious events. But there were plenty of examples of very effective transformation.

If you have noticed that something seems to hold you back and you’re stuck with negative self-talk despite what you know is the truth, maybe this will help. I am impressed with it’s potential. There is a link between current issues and past events that holds a charge, impacting your thoughts and beliefs. This can be changed through bilateral stimulation so you drop the old baggage and operate with new positive thoughts.

Does this sound like something that you would find helpful? I am eager to use EMDR and am interested in offering two free sessions to someone who is motivated to make meaningful change. Go to my website, and use my Free Consultation link and tell me why you are interested and why this would be helpful. I will pick the person I can help the most in the next week. This work can be done in person (Lexington, Ky) or over Zoom.  I’d love to use EMDR to help you!


Shapiro, Francine, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy, Basic Principles, Protocols and Procedures, Third Edition, Guilford Press, 2018.

Shapiro, Francine, Getting Past You Past, Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy, Rodale books, 2012

Photo from Unsplash


Written by Connie Milligan, LCSW
If there is anything I’ve expressed that speaks to you, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at my email, connie [at] conniemilligan [dot] com