Tag: <span>tapping</span>

Transforming memories: pros and cons

Do we need to Undo our past to Heal?

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Research shows that every time you remember a memory you basically edit it. “When you encounter a familiar experience, you are remembering the original memory at the same time, and the new experience somehow gets blended in…That is essentially what reconsolidation is” (Lee, n.d) It’s a known fact that memory is reconstructed over the years. When an event/incident takes place you think and feel in a certain way about it. It takes some time for the event to solidify in your brain. Once it solidifies and each time you retrieve the memory, meaning remember it, you basically alter it a little bit. However, it does not mean that the physical event did not take place. The way you think and feel about the event will change over the years – it would hurt less, you might not be as affected by it, but it does not become a false memory. It’s a reconsolidated and reconstructed memory.

Standard EFT and our memories

In standard EFT we neutralize the feelings towards the original event as the person remembers it. This helps as research indicates that “emotions are encoded along with memories in the brain, so connecting with the feeling, and healing it really helps change our perspective on what happened.”(N. Barron, 2013)

Movie technique/Tell the story technique or tearless trauma technique along with creative and gentle variations are used to tap on every aspect of that event, especially the emotional peaks, aka crescendos of the event. The significance of this process lies in the fact that whatever the person remembers, we tap on it. In this process of memory transformation, we don’t change the original story; we don’t substitute it with fantasy but work on the story as we remember it.

LeDoux (2005) says that the fewer times you use your memory, “the more pristine it is. The more you use it, the more you change it.” EFT requires re-telling the event while tapping on the various pieces/parts of that event. This leads to a decrease in the stress response tied with it and gradually we are able to nullify all the stressful feelings related to it. You can watch this video on a research where EFT led to reduction in the intensity of traumatic memories.

Example of using Standard EFT for memory transformation/neutralization of feelings: My client narrated in a session that when she was 8 years old, she was punched on her nose by her mother. She was in the back seat of her car and she said something and her mother punched her. When she recalled this event in the session, she could still feel the terror and shock of that moment. She had thought about it many times over the years and the memory was reconsolidated. She didn’t remember the exact details of the event; the date, where they were going, what she wore, what she had said etc, but she remembered being hit by her mother. With the help of EFT we worked on the aspects of ‘shock and terror’, by working primarily on what she remembered and gradually the feelings subsided, making her neutral towards the memory. We also used metaphors and inner child healing to release the pain and trauma from that memory.

EFT variations that end up disowning the story

Some variations of EFT use different ways of re-writing the story by “creating a happy ending” based on what you would have liked/wanted to happen (substituting the bad ending with a happy ending for a story). So if we worked on the “punching nose” event and used re-creation of the story, we would let the client choose a happy ending for her story and transform the memory into, for example, being touched gently on her cheeks by her mother – a fantasy. This will change how the client feels about the event but re-writing the story with a happy ending might make her uncomfortable as it is a lie, even though she has willingly re-created this childhood event in the session. She will have to say a lot of lies to herself to stick to the fantasy version of her story because the fact that she was physically abused throughout her childhood will not change and in order to change it, she might have to disown her story and re-create every memory that involved this abuse.

It’s true that we all perceive things in our own way but being punched by someone in the nose is a reality for that person and no matter how many different ways in which you want to see it, it remains the same. But yes, you can change how you feel about that memory. The memory of an event plays out in a certain way in the mind of the person. We tap on whatever we hold within ourselves. It’s our perspective, our understanding, our feelings about the event. But there are certain ‘unchangeable aspects’ of that memory that remain the same. For example, if someone’s relative died, then they died – it’s unchangeable. Similarly if someone is abused and would like to think that they were not, then it’s a lie. Suppose you were cut by a sharp knife and bleeding, re-creating this memory with a butter knife will not help at all! This distortion might help you in forgetting that you had a knife cut but you will be forgetting and losing out on what you can learn from it and get cut again by another knife.

Honoring Our Past

Our past guides us; we learn from our experiences. Our past can guide us in useful ways too. If we neutralise an upsetting traumatic memory, we can also learn or grow from it. We might learn that someone isn’t trustworthy, reliable and we need to set boundaries with that person, or create an emotional distance with that person. If we completely forget what happened by replacing all bad times with good endings, wouldn’t it be distorting our lived reality to the extent that we no longer know what happened? Someone with a history of psychotic episodes, using this kind of fantasy runs the risk of creating false memories that may have a deleterious long-term effects. We cannot undo what happened in our past. Physical reality and the psychological impact that happened cannot be undone and to heal we don’t need to undo it. We only need to process the memories, work through them, taking up each piece of the event and finally having left with a memory with no charge. The memory is there but it’s not upsetting you anymore.

We can honor our stories, learn from them, integrate them in our lives and heal.

Healing takes place when we accept whatever ending the story has without trying to convert it into an ending that suits us. “Disowning our story is not a healing move, being able to own it and accept it, while tough, is essential.”( N. Barron, 2013) Personally I prefer to work with changing ‘how I feelabout a memory, what I remember happening in that memory instead of changing ‘what actually happened’ in that memory.

As a practitioner, I don’t encourage or practice changing the memory into a fantasy memory or forcing positivity onto my clients. These ways of working with a client, especially those with trauma history , can retraumatise them. I stick with what the person remembers. So if someone was hit by a person , and they tapped on it, they might say – “Yes I was hit by so and so, but it doesn’t affect me anymore”. They wouldn’t have to lie to themselves saying that they weren’t hit.

Conclusion:

As Practitioners we need to tread carefully while working on memories and inform the clients about the process and the effect on memories. In my opinion, standard evidence-based EFT is a trauma informed approach and is a natural way of healing, not forced. Also, in advanced EFT, inner child healing and parts work is used to bring healing to our wounded parts and younger selves.

Using EFT we can simply neutralize the feelings towards an event rather than substituting it with a fantasy. It’s a far safer option in my opinion.

This article is an updated version of the original article that was published on 9th Nov, 2013, on my second blog. You can read the original article here.

References:

Barron, N. Personal Communication. Nov 08 2013 http://energyandintention.com/

LeDoux, J. (2005). Synaptic self: How our brains become who we are. New York, NY: Penguin.

Lee, J (n.d) In Discover Magazine: How much of your memory is true, retrieved November 1st, 2013 from http://discovermagazine.com/2009/jul-aug/03-how-much-of-your-memory-is-true

Personal self-tapping session

Sharing a personal self-tapping session.

 

I got a terrible spasm in my lower back a few days ago. It was very painful, I couldn’t walk or sit properly. Since I had a couple of client sessions that day, I decided to use self-tapping, my favourite go-to tool.
Half an hour before the client call, I sat on my chair and started tapping on myself.
I wasn’t able to bend forward so I started there. That’s how I measured the pain intensity. You don’t always have to use the suds scale. You can measure pain by movement as well, as in how much can you bend forward or backward, sideways etc and when there’s a change in that in terms of flexibility, it indicates relief.

( I was mindful of not injuring myself and did this very gently so please take all precautions if you have pain and also tap on underlying emotional factors for the pain)

Even though I have this pain in my lower back and I cannot bend at all, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.
1 round on this.

Tested by bending and although I still had the pain ( a bit less) I was able to bend forward a little.

Next round was on, Even though I’m able to bend forward a little bit now and that’s great, I still have this pain in my lower back and I completely accept myself.
Tested again by bending; was able to bend even more.
Pain was going down.

In 5-6 rounds I was able to touch my feet while sitting on my chair with minimal pain. In these rounds I also included tapping on how my posture had been incorrect in the last few days and how that might have contributed to the pain ( Even though I wasn’t sitting properly yesterday and it might have caused this spasm, ….) Then I tried bending backward, it was difficult.

Tapped on, Even though I’m not able to bend backward, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.
3 rounds and I was able to do a better backbend.
By then within 30 mins my pain was less and I was able to do the client session.
The pain increased a bit in the evening.
I usually have a monthly chat with my EFT colleague and friend and thankfully it was scheduled that day. She helped me tap on the frustration of the pain and how my body needed rest. It was just a 15 minutes tapping session but it really helped.

I didn’t take any painkiller or apply any pain relief spray. The pain has been minimal since then and I’ve been doing client sessions as well as resting. The spasm is completely gone. I’ve been able to get back to yoga and stretching exercises.

How to tap on anxiety and take its messages?

I’m sharing a personal example of a recent situation where tapping on anxiety and taking its messages really helped me.

A few weeks ago I enrolled in a meditation course. It was an online event and I was excited to be a part if it. But by the end of the first day I was feeling weird about the class. I couldn’t place my finger on what it was, the only thing that stood out for me was the way the class was conducted which didn’t feel comfortable. I decided to go for the second class so that I could give the class/instructor a benefit of doubt. The second day I felt even worse. I felt that it wasn’t working for me, the teachings, conduct and content felt totally out of sync with my sensibilities.
After the class, I tapped on acknowledging my anxiety and taking the message from it. After tapping, I felt calmer and the message in my anxiety was clear – the class didn’t feel like a safe place to learn, hence I decided to quit the course. I felt relieved and was reminded of many other situations where anxiety literally saved me from getting into a situation that felt totally out of sync with my values and beliefs etc. I think the course was probably beneficial for others but it surely wasn’t my cup of tea, and I wasn’t about to force myself to do something that didn’t sit well with me.
I also became aware that the content of the course was more like spiritual bypassing. It didn’t really gel with my philosophy of seeing things in a context, having a balanced view of the world, honouring all emotions and taking their messages, taking into account our unique contexts and situations with compassion, etc – these are at the heart of my work with my clients.

In short, my anxiety helped me to see things clearly and to align my actions with my beliefs and values.

WHAT IS ANXIETY?
Fear is about sensing danger in the present- the here and now, whereas anxiety is a form of fear of the future.
Worry, bodily sensations and tension are ingredients of anxiety.

HOW CAN TAPPING HELP?
Tapping is very effective for anxiety and while tapping if you can also acknowledge and take the message in anxiety, then it’ll be even more helpful.

Tapping on Anxiety
Here is a step by step process for tapping on mild to medium level of anxiety. This process uses reframes ( looking at anxiety with new perspectives) hence reading this article will help in order to understand what it means to take the messages from your anxiety.

If your anxiety is in an intense state then just tapping through the points and saying anything related to anxiety that comes to your mind, several rounds, will help. Once the anxiety has lessened (within 4-5 range on a scale of 0 to 10), then try this process.

1. Start by Tapping on how your body feels when you’re anxious.

Even though I’m anxious and I feel this heaviness in my chest (the bodily sensations) , I accept myself/acknowledge this anxiety in my body.
Reminder Phrase: this anxiety and this heaviness in my chest

( If there’s no body sensation and it’s only the mind chatter, worry, catastrophic thoughts that create anxiety for you, then tap on, Even though I have so many thoughts running in my head, so many what ifs, I deeply and completely accept myself.)

Tip: Tap on catastrophic thoughts, feelings and body sensations – whatever feels most pressing or prominent for you.

2. Tap on why you’re feeling anxious. You can keep a diary and note when you feel most anxious or at what point your anxiety starts building up. Based on that you’ll have a clue as to what is causing your anxiety every time it comes up.
Even though I’m anxious because I have an upcoming presentation, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Reminder Phrase: this anxiety because….

Even though I’m anxious probably because I’ve been working non-stop, I deeply and completely accept myself
Reminder Phrase: this anxiety because….

Even though I’m anxious because this situation-person doesn’t feel right, I deeply and completely accept myself
Reminder Phrase: this anxiety because….

3. Tackle all the high intensity aspects for the example you’re tapping on.
In EFT, aspects refers to the pieces of a problem, the different parts of a problem. If you’re new to EFT then download this free manual from EFTi to understand the basic process in EFT.

Examples:
Even though I’m anxious about how the presentation will go, I deeply and completely accept myself/I accept how I feel
Reminder Phrase: this anxiety about how the presentation will go

Even though I’m worried that I might be judged by others, I deeply and completely accept myself/I accept how I feel
Reminder Phrase: this worry that I might be judged by others

Even though I’m worried that I might forget what to say, I deeply and completely accept myself/I accept how I feel
Reminder Phrase: this worry that I might forget what to say

4. Taking the message – Tap on what you think your anxiety is trying to convey.

Examples for tapping on taking the message from anxiety:

Even though I still feel anxious, I’m willing to take the message in my anxiety.
Reminder Phrase(s): This remaining anxiety/I’m willing to take the message in it

Even though I’m still anxious, I acknowledge that I feel anxious because I haven’t finished these pending tasks and maybe it’s time to start working on them.
Reminder Phrase(s): this remaining anxiety/I acknowledge that…

Even though I feel anxious, it seems like I’m going too fast, I deeply and completely love and accept myself. And maybe I need to slow down.
Reminder Phrase(s): It looks like I’m going too fast/Maybe I need to slow down

Even though I feel anxious and it seems my anxiety is telling me that this situation isn’t working for me and that I don’t have to push through this, or force myself to stay in this situation, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.

Reminder Phrase(s): this anxiety seems to tell me that ….

Let me know how the process goes for you.
If you have chronic anxiety, then working with a tapping buddy or EFT Practitioner will help.

 

Take a Stress Pause s-t-o-p

Adapted from Donald Altman’s book, ” The Mindfulness Toolbox”

Here’s a simple way to use mindfulness to take a stress pause in your hectic and busy day.
This STOP exercise helps you in becoming more present, aware, grounded, and helps you respond rather than react to situations. I’ve added Tapping to it. The EFT instructions will be in brackets; you can use them if you want or just do the mindfulness technique. Either way it is effective,

S -Stand: Stand in one place and take a couple of deep calming breaths. Breathe from your belly. [Tap on each point and take a deep breath while standing]

T- Tune: Tune into your body. Feel yourself connected to the earth and rooted like a tree. Feel your feet growing roots that run deep into the earth. Scan your body starting  from the toes to the top of your head and keep breathing. If a body part feels tensed, just contract it and then relax it. [Tap and breathe]

O – Observe: Now observe your external environment. Make note of three sounds and objects in your environment. Observe the quality of the sounds, the texture and quality of the objects that you observe.  [While observing, you can also tap and verbally say what you’ve observed, for example – I’m observing/am aware of the sound of the fan]

P- Possibility: Donald Altman says, “Pause to reflect on the openness, spaciousness and possibilities that lie before you. You have just gone off auto-pilot and are now free to choose a new and beneficial direction… Who says that right now you couldn’t sing, smile, call a supportive friend, take a nice walk, or get a scoop of your favorite ice cream?” [Tap on new thoughts and ideas]

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.