Understanding and Resolving Psychological Reversal
Some years back, sitting in the sun outside a Montessori conference, a young colleague asked how she and her husband should prepare before conceiving their first child. My answer turned into a long list of “Don’ts”. Don’t smoke, avoid all drugs unless medically necessary, avoid all kinds of toxins, from pesticides to non-stick cookware. Avoid stress because your baby feels what you feel. I recommended that she learn R.A.T. and meditation, and today I would recommend EFT (see resources to follow).
Then I said, “Unfortunately, human beings tend to resist what is good for them, and desire what is bad.”
My friend Susie Shelton-Dodge was sitting among the group. As I recall, her jaw dropped and she turned to look at me. To me, it had been a simple observation of human nature (Susie and her husband David are committed observers), but it really struck Susie, and the encounter stuck with me. Susie is a great thinker, and if something makes an impression on her, I’m going to explore it further.
It’s classic good versus evil.
Most of the time, we want what’s not good for us. We are attracted to the unhealthy, and attract it to us somehow. And somehow, we are not very interested in what’s good for us.
In EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), the attraction to/of bad, and the corresponding avoidance of good is called “Psychological Reversal”. I like to simplify things for my clients, some of whom are children, and I call it “Batteries in Backwards”.
With their energy flowing backwards, people do things like argue, hurt themselves and others, sabotage themselves, engage in addictive behavior, get depressed or become evil dictators. I see psychological reversal in children who are aggressive, teens who are dark, and adults who are abusive, often within the same family.
As much as you want to change, willpower won’t work if you have strong psychological reversal. Anyone abandoned some New Year’s resolutions already?
The first step in EFT is to correct psychological reversal. This frees the child or adult to seek and accept what is good.
To me, this looks familiar. It is what Maria Montessori called “normalization”. In an ideal environment, the child is attracted to hard work, gets along with others, and becomes a respectful and contributing member of the group. Montessori called the negative behaviors of a non-normalized child “deviations” or "sin".
It is a sign of health to desire what is good for you, and to find the unhealthy not so attractive. As I learned EFT, I started craving spinach, and eggs from the local farmer. I would devour a spinach omelet daily for breakfast, but skip the coffee. Processed food started to look like… not food. It looks like plastic to me.
Some of my clients find themselves attracted to better jobs, healthier people, and real food. Unconsciously, they began to reject abuse and addiction and set healthy boundaries. Relationships and health improved. Some slept more. Some slept less. Some earned more. Some stopped overworking. Some found God. Some stopped judging.
All seem to move toward what is healthy for them right now.
I craved spinach.
R.A.T. is Respiratory Autogenic Training which I teach in the Preparing to Parent class and in prenatal parent coaching. Here is a nice summary:
What’s Going on in There? by Lise Eliot
My EFT sites:
Farmer Sam, Chicken Herder: