Why noticing nominalisations is important
A nominalisation is a vague global big chunk term for an issue. It's where your child or client says they have 'anxiety' or 'anger issues' or 'low- self worth'. They're directing us to how they're interpreting the symptoms they're experiencing but we don't know the underlying trigger or limiting belief to work on.
These nominalisations tell us nothing that we can work on, it's not as if we can say, 'ah, anxiety, I know what we can do'.
The other problem is that we may assume one anxiety client is much the same as another, whereas this is far from the truth.
And it's the same with other nominalisations such as ADD, ADHD, Autism and so on. I get calls from parents asking if I work with autistic children or children with additional needs. I work with all children and all children are unique with their own very specific limiting beliefs based on their own personal history which will obviously be completely unique to them.
If I sound cross, it's because I am.
These nominalisations are becoming children's identity. They are introducing themselves to me as 'I'm ADHD' or 'I'm autistic' as if I just need to give them a pill for it because it's exactly the same as another with the same identity.
All children struggle with one thing or another. But when we define them by what they struggle with, we ignore their beautiful gifts. Children I've been told are 'difficult' or 'impossible' or who 'can't be taught' or 'don't listen' prove to be enchanting, very engaging and a delight to work with.
When we try to educate all children in the same way, we do them a disservice and miss out on the many ways in which one day they will contribute their skills to society. What they all do suffer from is low self-esteem because they've believed the rhetoric and not had the opportunity to live the life they were meant to live. Is it any wonder that so many are home schooled?
So what is the answer?
Here are some ideas, and 'no' I don't have all the answers, I'm just going to tell you how I work with children.
1. Tell me about this anxiety/anger etc what's it like?
2. Does it have a colour?
3. Where is it in your body?
4. If it were an animal or a bird, what would it be?
5. What does that ..............(animal/bird) want to say?
6. What colour would comfort it? Can you breathe that into your ..........(body area mentioned) and breathe it right down to your toes, and back up again.
7. What animal or bird would you like to have instead ........can you invite it in?
8. We could tap to invite it in. Use EFT tapping to clear the emotion and invite in the clearing emotion.
9. What's the new belief that you have about this situation?
10. Take that new belief into your heart and see it fill your heart and when it's full to bursting, open your eyes.
There are lots of different ways I work, often using art therapy, music, drama, movement and creating collages and vision boards, lego models, sand trays .... I use my intuition and respond to what is needed in the moment.
You can work like this too with your own child when you see them as a child who wants to be happy and a child who already has all the resources they need. The key is to get beyond the nominalisation and get to the belief that's blocking them. It will sound like this:
- I am not good enough
- I don't matter
- I'm not important
- no-one likes me
- I'm not loveable
- I'm dumb
- it's my fault
A limiting belief tends to sound child-like and that's because it is usually imprinted before the age of six years old, unlike a nominalisation.