Making That Big “Rock” Move

As I think about the process of moving chronic material,1 my mind often goes to my childhood experience with my family of moving big rocks. These were rocks that were too big and too deeply embedded to just lift up and haul away. We often had to dig around a rock for quite a while to reveal its full extent. Then we had to find a place where we could get some purchase2 with a long metal crowbar, where part of the lever was actually under the rock. We also needed to put enough solid rock behind the crowbar so that when we applied force, it wouldn’t just slip back into soft dirt. Only then, with the tip of the crowbar under the now-exposed rock, and something solid behind it, would we gather all our forces and push down on the crowbar, as far out on the other end as possible. If the rock moved, even the tiniest bit, we’d have small rocks ready to wedge into the crack that had opened. Then we’d readjust the crowbar and maybe build up the rock behind it, hopefully getting a little more leverage, and push down on the crowbar again. We knew what to do to make that big rock move, and it was an empowering experience for this little girl.

The parallel to moving chronic material is striking. To really make a difference, we first have to uncover the pattern enough to recognize its shape, to know what it looks like and see where it ends. Discharge, often of deep grief, is usually required to get this picture. But once we know the shape of it, discharge alone will not move it. What is needed is leverage, and something solid to push against. Leverage comes with a good direction, and the contradiction3 provided by connection with a counselor. The something solid to push against is truth and the reality of our current abilities.

We push with power (more discharge of fear than grief, and strong action taken in the present outside of session). If it doesn’t move, we may need to discharge more to uncover its shape more fully and get a clearer picture of its depth, or gather together more contradiction or access to reality. When a crack in the chronic opens up, we wedge in more decision and action in present time to keep the pattern from settling back into place. With that crack, we have even greater leverage to move it the next step.

With this metaphor in mind, I approach my sessions with greater intention and power. It is hard work, of course, but a great adventure, and as rewarding as moving big rocks used to be for me as a child.

Pamela Haines

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Reprinted from the e-mail discussion list
for RC Community members


1 “Material” means distress.
2 “Some purchase” means a mechanical hold
3 Contradiction to distress


Last modified: 2017-04-12 11:23:49-07