When I sit down with flower essence clients, I find we spend a lot of time telling each other stories. Normally, clients go on for quite some time telling me stories of how people "done them wrong" and all the bad things that happened to make them unhappy. What I'm listening for, however, are underlying themes behind these stories, "core stories" that describe how they respond to and interpret their own experiences.
We all know people who smile through adversity, so what's important, ultimately, is not what happened to people, but what they make of those events. Everyone has had key events in the past, often in childhood, where the young psyche perked up and said to itself "Aha! This is how life really is!". Even when the conclusions are terribly incorrect, we can perpetuate these core stories and their immature understandings our whole lives. When we do, we usually make a mess of life in the process, unless a new "Aha!" comes along to shake us up. Me? I like to tell stories about why stories don't work.
Whereas ordinary stories are often about other people or outside events, core stories are about the person and how they relate to the world. In rare circumstances, this theme is about "what a wonderful person I am", but for most people the underlying theme is very self-critical. It can often be summarized in a simple sentence like, "I'm not lovable" or, "I'm a failure at everything I do". The origins of these stories usually go back to childhood and misunderstandings within the family. Wherever they come from, however, once these themes become active, they subvert all experiences in order to prove their validity. It's as though these people walk through life with blinders on, seeing only the things that agree with the story. They tune out any experience that contradicts it, making the story a self-perpetuating force.
Less consciously, the person can actually create experiences in their life as deeper parts of their psyches reach out into the world and attract situations that agree with the story and the emotions behind it. The story appears "real" because people recreate it every day. Fortunately, common core stories frequently correspond to particular flower remedies, and taking the right remedy can enable the person to break free of the story's hypnotic grip.
For instance, the story line that starts out "I'm always a failure, so why even try?". corresponds to the important Bach remedy Larch, which nearly everyone seems to need at some point. Larch people feel like a failure in every endeavor and literally expect to fail no matter what they do. They develop a defeatist attitude that prevents them from even trying something new -- "Why bother? It'll never work anyway...".
The fallacy in this story, what I call the "cosmic joke" for a core story, is that Larch people are often extremely competent and hard working (their way of compensating for being a "failure"), so nine times out of ten they come out a winner -- but only if they try. Larch helps them suspend belief in this crippling core story, give the task a whole-hearted try, and prove to themselves they can do it.
The theme that begins: "There's something really disgusting and shameful about me that I must hide from others..." is typical of a Pink Monkeyflower person, another of my old standby remedies made by the Flower Essence Society (FES). While everybody has some of this "shadow material" in their psyche, these people seem obsessed with hiding some terrible blot from everyone else. There seem to be two cosmic jokes going on here. First, no matter how hard they try to hide it, others can usually see the trait they're hiding anyway, or at least can see that something funny is going on.
Secondly, if you ask a Pink Monkeyflower person what they are so ashamed of, it's usually something so inconsequential that the listener blurts out: "Is that all it is?" The person is often quite relieved to find their big emotional burden is actually no big deal -- you can see them physically relax before your eyes. Over time, the remedy helps remove this sense of shame. In situations where the shameful trait is the person's own sexuality (often a byproduct of early family and religious training), the Bach remedy Crab Apple or the Australian Bush Essence Billy Goat Plum are sometimes the key.
EDITOR'S NOTE: For more detail, see Martin's earlier article on sexuality.
A victim mentality -- "Why me?" -- is common in our culture, though it has both passive or resigned ways of showing up, as well as more aggressive and covertly angry ways. The all-time favorite remedy for victims and professional martyrs is Bach's Willow, though the Australian Bush Essence Southern Cross is a close second. These people thrive by hanging on to a bitter, resentful attitude towards life, which they express by blaming others for their misfortune. Their whole life contracts around this hard core. Willow helps them lighten up and see that they can make a better life for themselves if they simply take responsibility for their actions.
Core stories like these rob life of its joy and vitality needlessly. Listen to your clients -- or yourself, for that matter -- to tease out what core story might be operating. Then consider what flower remedies would address it. With a little honest self-work and some help from the flowers, it's possible to trade in destructive stories for more positive ones. Life's too short -- strive for all the happy endings you can get!EDITOR'S NOTE: Do you have stories about your clients' stories? Or can you add a core story/remedy pairing? Please post a message to our forum.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Martin Bulgerin founded the BioPsciences Institute (BPI) in 1987. Find out more about him and see links to his other articles in Vibration Magazine.
ART CREDITS: Nursery rhyme pictures from ArtToday.