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The Unavoidable Triggers

We all have people, situations and issues that trigger us – push our buttons.

For example, a friend’s habit of interrupting while you speak might be making you furious or an environmental issue might be triggering you to the point of losing sleep. These are repetitive situations that can trigger us.

One of the most effective ways of handling triggers is to use EFT on them. I’ve had tremendous success with EFT in upsetting situations.company_reluctance

There will be two kinds of triggers – situations where your attitude and behaviour have the potential to directly influence the outcome, and situations where they don’t. Taking the earlier example – a situation where you can directly influence the situation. After a few rounds of tapping, you might consider telling your friend not to interrupt you. The difference will be that you’ll be much calmer when you ask them to shut up! 😉 You’ll get the confidence to clearly explain how you feel when you’re interrupted and what you’d like instead.

With an environmental, political or social issue you will not have control over the entire situation. Every time you hear someone speak about it or see it on news, you might get triggered. While it’s good to be aware of societal and environmental issues and not be numb to the causes that need our attention, it’s not good for our emotional health to have sleepless nights and meltdowns over them. You’ll also be hurting your love ones with your anger and snappy attitude.

In both these situations EFT can work.

When things are more or less in your control, meaning your attitude and behaviour can directly influence the outcome.

Steps

1. Tap on the emotion

2. Find out what it’s saying. Listen to its message. Here’s a video link on how to tap on anger and its messages.

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When things are not in your control, meaning your attitude and behaviour cannot influence the outcome directly or immediately. This kind of tapping needs persistence.

Steps

1. Tap every time you feel triggered. If you’re in conversation with someone and getting triggered, press your finger points.

2. Go deeper – tap on your helplessness about not being able to change anything about a situation.

3. After several sounds you might have a cognitive shift. If not, tap on the things that are in your control; what can you do from your end. Every small change that you work on makes a difference. For example, suppose you decide not to use plastic in your house, that’s a change. It will reduce the helplessness you feel.

Please note: While tapping on repetitive ongoing stressors, you may feel immediate relief but it may not last. Tap regularly and take up any new aspects that come up.

EFT research recommendation by NICE (UK Government Body)

NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) issued a set of guidelines for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). The guidelines are for, “recognising, assessing and treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in children, young people and adults.” (NICE, 2018)

NICE PTSD guidelines include a research recommendation for EFT. For the first time a government agency has deemed EFT worthy of research, which is a huge success for EFT.

The following excerpt is from NICE’s website:

The committee decided to make a research recommendation for emotional freedom technique (EFT), which is one of the two combined somatic and cognitive therapies considered in the guideline (the other one being thought field therapy TFT). EFT was selected for a research recommendation as it showed a considerably larger effect size than TFT in comparisons with nonactive controls in pairwise meta-analysis.

To find out why the committee made the research recommendation on EFT,  see appendix L of evidence review D: psychological, psychosocial and other non-pharmacological interventions for the treatment of PTSD in adults.

References:

AAMET Newsletter, Dec 5, 2018

NICE website: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng116/evidence

Sharing my personal healing journey

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do” Brene Brown

To tell the truth and own it, is the most liberating gift that you can give to yourself. When you share your healing journey, not only do you own your story but the story also gives hope to others to heal. And that’s exactly what this article is about.
I’m sharing a part of my personal journey to tell you that healing is possible – that recovery from childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is possible.

I was sexually abused from the age of 4- 5 to 11 by three different people, a house help and two relatives. I remember that the abuse started when I was nearly 4 years old. I have strong visceral memories of that time period – the unease, confusion, and disgust (I worked on them with EFT1 later)

I also remember writing on the wall of an old water tank in my home, “Puja is dead”, in my native language, when I was around 7-8 years old or maybe younger.
The clearest memories are those of the abuse by one of my relatives. We had a joint family and he was staying with us. That man always evoked a sense of unease with his presence. After a while, I avoided getting near him but was pulled into a web of secrecy and shame. He made me believe that I would be blamed if I divulged anything to my parents. It was so confusing as a kid because close relatives are supposed to be protective and not exploitative.
Children aren’t in an age where they can fully grasp what’s happening; they can’t give or deny consent because they don’t even know what consent is. When a child is touched inappropriately, forced upon, cornered, threatened and/or shamed to stay silent, it is too overwhelming for the child and often they dissociate to cope with it. This hinders the emotional and psychological development of the child.
For years, I struggled with social anxiety, fear of speaking in public, generalized anxiety, stomach issues and other physical manifestations of the suppressed emotions.

Now when I look back I feel a lot of compassion for my younger self and I know what a brave little girl she was to have gone through whatever she had to.

Facing the abuser
When I was 11 years old, I gathered the courage to stop the abuse. One day when my relative was forcing me against a wall, I shouted at him and threatened to expose him to his wife (he had just got married and had moved to a new house). And that’s when the abuse ended. This was the first step towards my healing journey. I refused to touch his feet after that (an Indian custom where you pay respect to a ‘respectable’ elder by touching his/her feet).

Healing begins
My memories of CSA started re-surfacing in my college years and since then I have been very vocal about spreading awareness about CSA.
In my college, I took up psychology and that helped tremendously in understanding what I was going through. I did my internship at RAHI in Delhi (a support group for survivors of CSA). The full impact of what had happened in my childhood – the powerlessness, helplessness, shame, guilt, disgust, pain and loss finally sunk in when I read stories by survivors of CSA. As children we often dissociate from the abuse to cope with what’s happening and the encoding of the trauma happens very differently than that of normal events. Usually the traumatic events are encoded as bodily sensations without many words and images attached to them. Hence the body carries the visceral memories of the abuse.  The narrative isn’t linear but comes in bits and pieces. There were some events that were very clear in my head and there were some that were very fragmented. I remember flashes of some coercive abusive episodes.
I read a lot in my graduate years and used a lot of self-help techniques to handle social anxiety, tendency to self harm, anger/rage, insecurities, and fear. My thesis on Feminism further helped me to develop a stronger sense of self.

Disclosure and Facing the abuser again
After my post graduation, I decided to face my relative one last time. I disclosed everything to my parents and they were shocked and felt really guilty for not noticing what was happening. But they supported me unconditionally. I called the abuser, and gave him a piece of my mind over the phone. Of course, he tried to blame me and told my parents that I was being disrespectful and that I was the problem child etc. But my parents cut him off. They’ve always stood by me in all my decisions and have supported me throughout.

Emotional Freedom Techniques1
In 2003, I was introduced to EFT and that’s when the next healing phase began. I did intensive EFT sessions on myself for a year and processed most of the traumatic memories. It helped tremendously in reintegrating the disowned parts of myself and shedding the guilt and shame.
Then I started my private practise as a psychologist and EFT practitioner and worked with a lot of survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
I also swapped sessions with EFT practitioners to work on the remnants of traumatic memories and their effects.

(Added on Dec 2020) I continue to have sessions with EFT practitioners/mentors regularly as it’s very important to keep doing our inner work as therapists while we work with clients.

Krav Maga2
I learnt and practiced Krav Maga on and off for nearly 5-6 years. It helped tremendously in increasing my body confidence and dissolving the remaining unhealed trauma. I’ve been triggered several times during the Krav Maga classes but the triggers were eased and resolved with my trainer’s support and with the self-defence moves and techniques.

Owning your story
There is a stigma attached to speaking up and owning your story. I don’t buy this archaic mentality.
I was abused as a child and I have no shame in owning my story because the shame lies fully and squarely with the abusers.
I have gone from being a survivor to a thriving person and that’s why I can say that healing from trauma is possible.
Coming to terms with my abuse has made me stronger and more compassionate to people around me. Something like this should never happen to any child, but it is possible to move on and leave it behind and use that reservoir of resilience and tenacity to live your life the way you want. Finally, adverse circumstances can either harden you or soften you, as Dalai Lama says. And this has certainly softened me, made me more compassionate as a person.

If you’re a survivor, remember it’s not your fault; it’s not your shame to carry. Assign the shame and blame to the abuser(s) where it belongs and then leave it behind. Heal it, don’t carry it. It’s not yours to carry. You’re not damaged; you’re a whole person as worthy as anyone else.

Meaning of certain terms used in this article:
1 – EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Techniques, a mind-body tool to dissolve stress and trauma.

2- Krav Maga is an Israeli form of Martial Arts, a practical street smart self-defence system.

Shower exercise to Connect with your Body

WHAT IS TRAUMA?

When a situation exceeds the person’s ability to cope with it, and he/she feels helpless and unable to escape, then it results in trauma. It’s said that trauma does not lie in the event but in the response to that event.

WHAT IS DISSOCIATION?

Dissociation, in other words disconnection from the feelings and body, is a way to escape the inescapable. It is a mode of survival. Trauma and dissociation go hand in hand; when the trauma is over, the person can still be dissociated from that incident. According to Dr. Scaer, “Our brain is strongly wired to protect us from life threats through a series of message systems in the limbic brain that allow us to assess danger and then institute a self-preservation response.” Dissociation is a form of self-preservation response.

If you’ve been through trauma and your body initiated a survival response, dissociation, to cope with the trauma, then you’ll habitually disconnect from your body. However, even if we aren’t dissociated, we have a tendency to disconnect from our bodies. We’re in our minds most of the time, hardly in our bodies.

Here’s a simple and gentle exercise to bring your awareness back to your body. This exercise is by Peter Levine and outlined in his book, In an Unspoken Voice.

In his words,

Take a gentle pulsating shower in the following way – at a comfortable temperature, expose your body to the pulsing water. Direct your awareness into the region in your body where the rhythmical stimulation is focused. Let your consciousness move to each part of your body.

Try to include each part of your body  and pay attention to the sensation in each area, even if it feels blank, numb, or uncomfortable. While you are doing this say, “ this is my arm, head neck, etc “ “i welcome you back”

You can also do this exercise by gently tapping some parts of your body with fingertips.

When done over time this exercise will re-establish awareness of your body boundary through awakening skin sensations.

Youtube Live Series

I have started a Youtube Live series on EFT for Physical Issues.

The first part was aired today and the replay will be available for the next 4 days.


The second part will be aired next week, and the third in Dec.

Every month I will be making Live presentations on Youtube on topics related to emotional and physical health.

Sign up to be notified every month.

Empty the Barrel

Have you ever felt that even though you’ve weathered the toughest crises in the past, now even a small problem makes you feel like you’re losing control and you can’t take it anymore? That’s because your barrel is full. You cannot pile on more things on your system otherwise it will break down. This is what burn out looks like.

The full barrel effect refers to how when the immune system becomes overburdened and the body is full to its capacity of fighting pathogens and stress, you get autoimmune conditions where the body attacks itself.

“As long as your barrel is less than full, however, your immune system is still able to deal with what it confronts every day. But once the immune system becomes overburdened and that barrel fills to capacity it can begin to misread signals, causing the immune system to make costly mistakes and attack the body itself.”( Nakazawa, 2008)

So empty your barrel. You need to release the stress, let go of the adverse experiences and the stuck emotions that are keeping your barrel full. Once you start emptying the barrel, you will have more space in your body and mind to deal with new stressors. If your system is full of stress, then you don’t have any mental capacity to deal with new stuff, and anything new, no matter how small, can cause a breakdown.

 

Read more on the barrel effect here:

https://donnajacksonnakazawa.wordpress.com/2008/03/13/the-barrel-effect-or-its-the-last-straw-that-breaks-the-camels-back/

 

 

Intrusive thoughts

Intrusive thoughts are repetitive, anxiety provoking, and pretty frustrating. They make you feel as if you aren’t in control. They can cause a lot of anxiety, shame and fear. It is important to understand what these thoughts are and what they aren’t.

This video explains negativity bias – our mind’s tendency to think negative, how these repetitive thoughts can make us anxious, why they come and how to understand and handle them better.

 

GENERIC TAP ALONG

This is a generic tap along video to help you decrease the frequency of intrusive thoughts. Remember to note down specific aspects from this video that apply to you, and tap on them individually.

Collapsing Global issues in EFT: The tabletop metaphor

This is a really good metaphor used by Gary Craig to explain how we need to work on specific events to collapse globally stated issues.

The tabletop is the global issue and the legs are the specific events that support the global issue.

Examples of Global Issues

Everyone rejects me.

I am unworthy of love and happiness.

This world is a dangerous place.

My co-workers always belittle me.

My work life sucks.

My partner is emotionally unavailable.

I’m unhappy

These are global beliefs or feelings that you need to work on. Since these issues are global in nature, just tapping on these will only bring partial or no relief. On the other hand, if you find the legs that support the table top, the specific events, then the table top will crumble.

 

Specific events

Start with events from your childhood and then work your way up to the events in adulthood. It’s good to start with the lesser intensity ones, if you are working by yourself or even with a practitioner, to avoid getting too overwhelmed. Once you’ve successfully worked on 2-3 of these smaller ones, go to the big ones. Once you’ve worked on the bigger intensity events, then the remaining smaller ones will also collapse.

Examples

My teacher slapped me in the 2nd std/grade.

I was bullied in the school when I was in the 5th std/grade.

I was compared to my sister and told that I weighed more than her.

My nanny abused me when my parents had gone to my Aunt’s house.

I hurt my knees when I fell down riding my bicycle.

To understand the EFT concepts, you can purchase the EFT concepts illustrated Ebook where all the concepts are depicted in pictures.

 

Breaking the habit of not taking breaks!

How many times have you continued an activity without a break?

For example, you are very passionate about a project or a new hobby that you’ve started. Do you try to finish the project without taking breaks, without paying any attention to sleep and other important daily self-care routines?

When you literally dive into something like this without a proper self-care routine, you run the risk of burnout. This can also lead to procrastination. You may collapse after this intense period of activity and not want to start the activity again. Once in a while all of us do this. We will work non-stop to meet a deadline or get too engrossed in an activity and it is okay. But if this becomes a habit, it has to change.

Non-stop and intense activity periods may be fuelled by one or more of these reasons:

  • Not wanting to take a break till you get a satisfactory result.
  • Thinking that taking breaks will decrease your concentration.
  • You don’t feel good enough about yourself and your work/activity is a way of proving to yourself that you are good enough.
  • You believe that work is superior to rest.
  • You believe in all or nothing thinking. Either do it all or not do at all.
  • You believe if you don’t do ALL, you will fail in it
  • You belief in ‘perfect’ results and won’t rest till the end result is ‘Perfect’.

How does this impact you? It will:

  • Drain you of energy.
  • Cause burnout
  • Impact your physical health
  • Disrupt your sleep
  • Reduce motivation to do other things

What can help?

  • Not letting the activity affect your sleep, exercise and eating routine.
  • Taking regular breaks, even if they are short.
  • Having control over any new activity that you undertake.
  • Listening to your body and taking breaks when it’s screaming for rest.
  • EFT

EFT SCRIPT

Even though when I dive into something, I don’t take breaks, I have a pattern of engaging in an activity non-stop, I accept and forgive myself.

Even though I cannot stop once I start something, I neglect my emotional and physical health, I would like to forgive myself.

EB- I don’t get up till I finish something

EC-I tend to push myself

UE- I feel I need to do it properly

UN- If I don’t do ALL, I’m going to fail, or not do well.

CH- – The more time I spend at something, the better the outcome will be.

CB -If I don’t spend that time I feel it’s not good enough.

UA- I procrastinate anything that takes a lot of energy for me.

TOP OF HEAD- I avoid it because I know if get absorbed into it, I won’t take breaks.

(Add whatever comes up for you)

EB-  What if there is a better way of doing things? What if I do a little daily?

EC- What if I can get work done without collapsing, procrastinating or losing motivation?

UE- What if I take breaks and engage in micro self-care practices to get better results, without getting burnt out?

UN-I choose to take breaks and give myself the rest that my mind and body deserve.

CH- If I take breaks, then I will be able to feel better even after the work is done. I won’t collapse. I won’t procrastinate.

CB- I choose to take frequent breaks.

UA- I choose to do a little daily.

TOP OF HEAD – I choose to make self-care a priority. This way I can get more work done.