I recently worked with a young friend who just opened her first acupuncture clinic with another young woman. When they were setting up their business bank account, and the personal banker found out that yes, in fact, acupuncture was useful for headaches, she became a good referral source for them.
Now she has invited Joan to a bank-sponsored golf outing for small businesses. Joan is feeling terrified! For one thing, she is not a golfer. And, she hates going to a group of people where she knows no one. Plus, her mind is throwing up all the self doubts she has ever collected about self-worth and inadequacy.
She said, "When I was in acupuncture school I felt competent and I did a good job (except when I froze on exams!). Now, with my business, I have a hard time putting myself out there. I have trouble initiating conversations about what I do. I find myself assuming that people aren’t interested in listening to me. I feel like they are just humoring me when I talk.
I feel so inexperienced, and it brings up all my feelings of not being as good as other people. My mind disconnects from my mouth and I begin to feel like I am talking gibberish. And then I start thinking, how can I feel justified in even asking for money for what I do? It is one thing to work with family and friends for free, but I fall into doubting that my services are worth what I am charging.
Help! How can I truly believe in the value of what I have to offer? And I don’t even know how to play golf!!"
I am sure that at least one or two of you reading this have had similar feelings…
The Sensitive Temperament
If Joan took the Meyers-Briggs Personality Temperament survey, or looked for herself on the Kiersey Temperament sorter, she would find herself in a rather rare group of people. The "Idealist" group is said by many to be only about 1-2% of the population. They are highly sensitive, intuitive, and energized by being alone rather than with other people. (This can go the other way too. For yourself, note which is more likely to drain your energy, and which energizes you: being with people, or being alone.)
Knowing Joan, I am guessing that she is also someone who likes to bring closure to what she initiates. Within this temperament she could just as likely be someone who needs lots of options, and feels limited by decisions. (Her business partner is more like that) The Idealist temperament also sees what is possible, what may be invisible to others. S/he is drawn toward connecting with people in peace and love. People in this temperament process the world around them intuitively, based on feelings rather than thinking.
However, people with this temperament are seldom understood by the "practical" "realistic" people who are in the majority. Highly sensitive Idealists often grow up in families of Rationalists! If this is you, you may have had a hard time seeing yourself in a positive way, because many of the people around you couldn’t see what was good about you. Even if they were sensitive too, deep inside, their goodness was never mirrored back to them either, and they grew up having to squelch and repress their essential selves, thinking there must be something wrong with them.
So, confronted with the upcoming golf outing, Joan is feeling nervous and anxious and full of dread and self doubt, while at the same time loving her chosen healing profession, eager to share it with people. She strongly wants to support her business and ready to begin creating her vision of her future! This is a good example of feeling one foot on the accelerator and one foot on the brake.
Create an Elevator Speech!
First I suggested to Joan that she and her partner develop a "30-second elevator speech." Imagine that someone in the elevator asks you what you do, and you have 30 seconds before the door opens to describe your passion about what you do in a way that will catch the person’s attention, will tell them what benefit is there for them, and will invite them to ask you a question. Once they ask you a question, then you are off and running in a conversation! It is just the beginning that is hard. The Elevator Speech will serve her well at an event like the golf outing where there are lots of people who are getting to know each other for the first time.
In tapping with Joan I started with all the information that she had shared with me about her feelings and how they showed up in her body. I took note of her self doubts (limiting beliefs) when she imagined herself with all those people:
Ohmigod here we go!
Will I look OK?
Will I sound OK?
You’re gonna screw this up!
You are crazy to be doing this!
I am too young to really know anything about acupuncture.
I am too inexperienced to be any good.
How can I charge money for this?
I am always so hard on myself…
And anyway, people just want to talk about themselves.
I have trained myself NOT to talk about myself.
For this EFT session I followed a protocol developed by my friend and EFT colleague, Betty Moore Hafter. I often use this protocol when there is a specific issue that has deep roots in the person’s life and I think I may only have one session with the person. It is also useful in an initial session, to begin to gently explore the deeper issues. It is a clear, honoring and respectful approach, and it covers all the bases. (see the end of this article for how you can get a CD of Betty’s protocol to use for yourself or your clients)
What is Triggering the Stress?
The process begins with tapping for general comments about whatever is triggering the stress. Joan and I used her inner story/movie of "The Golf Outing." We inserted some positive phrases near the end of the tapping process: "I am willing for this to change…I want to feel better about it…I am willing for this to change."
Joan was already beginning to feel better about the upcoming golf outing. We went a little deeper, asking, "What about this event bothers you the most?" For Joan it was this feeling that she called "tanking," that when she was in this situation with all of these unfamiliar people, she felt outside of the circle, left out, all alone, a feeling that was familiar from her past. Her mind and her self confidence shut down.
I talked with her about how typical this is for a sensitive person. And it was true — she was not like other people, but in a good way. Joan said that when she felt like an outsider, all alone, that was when the disconnect happened between her head and her mouth, and she felt like she just talked gibberish.
We tapped for these feelings, and again at the end brought in thoughts like, "Even so, I am willing to see it differently…" Then there was a space for Joan to sit quietly and imagine how she might see this situation differently now. What could she tell herself about it to change the story a little bit? What would help her feel differently about it?
What Does This Remind You Of?
The next step in Betty’s protocol invites the tapper to consider what this situation reminds them of. "When have you felt this way before?" I think it is always a good idea to work with specific past events when doing EFT, so that a new awareness can be seeded inside the person about what could have been possible, and still can be, for the rest of their life. In this case, however, because of our time restraints, I just let Joan do this exploration in a quiet inner way.
We tapped for… "What this situation reminded me of in the past… what I felt then… a part of me still feeling this way… being willing for this to heal… that was then and this is now…I want to heal the past and free myself up in the present."
Next we tapped through Joan’s perception of events — the story she was telling herself about the problem. Betty’s language is helpful here: "What do you know to be completely true? And where may you be filling in the blanks, assuming what someone is thinking or intending…assuming negative motives or attitudes…?"
Joan began to realize that she had been doing a lot of mind-reading — playing inner movies of the golf outing, guessing what other people might be thinking and reacting to that, making decisions about feeling left out, and about how hard this would be, especially since she had never played golf (I’ll be the only one! I will make a fool of myself! was her first thought) based on her assumptions, without actually knowing if they had any basis in truth.
Tap tap tap:
What I have assumed
It is a story I have been telling myself
But I don’t know if it is true
It has created negative feelings
I have been living as if that story was true
But it may not be true…
I am ready to release my assumptions
If I can’t check them out and know they are true, I will let them go…
Looking for a counter-example from her life that actually was true, I asked Joan, "What is a time in your past when you were talking in a group, and you did a good job?" Joan is a shark fanatic, and she talked about being a guide at the shark exhibit called Ocean Journey at a large aquarium. One day her family was part of the group she spoke to, and they were impressed with her knowledge. They had never seen her speak like that.
As we tapped, I made a lot of use of the term "Ocean Journey," bringing it in again and again in various ways. I used Ocean Journey as a metaphor as well, playing with the words and concepts it brought up in my mind: "You are strong and wise like a shark… you know how to journey through your environment…you are like a fish in water when it comes to acupuncture…you instinctively know what to do…you are in your element…people look to you for direction…so many people would like to know what you know…they will be impressed just like your family was…Joan the Shark…join the shark!"
Don’t Take it Personally
The next step built into this tapping protocol works with a person’s tendency to take things personally. EFT can help us come to realize that whatever happened could actually have been a result of the other person’s limited perspective, and in fact, "it’s not about me." The tapper also gets the opportunity to consider whether they have a need to control a person or a situation, wanting them to act in a certain way, even though the truth is we can’t control anyone or anything, ever!
Then the tapper is invited to realize that the place we have the most control is within our own internal process. Trying to control what is outside us just makes us continue to feel helpless, powerless and insecure. EFT helps us to pay attention to and respond to our own feelings, giving us a sense of inner strength.
Connecting with Goodness, Disconnecting from the Toxic
Moving into the next tapping cycle, Joan and I tapped for how important connection was to her, and how painful it was when she did not feel a sense of connection because the other person was too caught up in their own story to respond to her. We tapped for being able to detach from those people with whom she had had toxic interactions. Again, in this particular session, I didn’t ask Joan to specify those particular people or interactions that had led to her feeling hurt and wrong. That will be another session, if we have that opportunity.
Even though I need this connection, I deeply accept myself…and I honor myself for my need for connection…but even though I feel this need…I am willing to accept that I can’t make this happen…and if that person is not available, I’m detaching now…choosing to connect with myself…to like myself…to approve of my self…and MY CONNECTION WITH MYSELF MATTERS THE MOST…
It is so important for us to be reminded that often what we thought was "wrong" with us may actually be our very best quality! When we stop trying to paddle upstream, against our very nature, and just relax and allow and let the current carry us in ways that come naturally to us, honoring who we are, life is so much easier.
I believe that we are on this earth, as these bodies, at this time to learn this very lesson. Learning how to trust the wisdom of your own feelings and instincts, blessing yourself for who you are, who you can’t not be, are sacred skills, in my mind. Sensitive people will learn this first. We must, for our survival. The others will follow. Eventually…
What "Shape" are You Creating?
To complete this lovely protocol, the next step is to consider the energy of the situation. We must ask ourselves: are we creating life-giving energy by our thoughts? Or are we creating life-limiting energy? We have the right to refuse, to say no, to stand up for ourselves, say YES for ourselves. We have the right to energize our own beings by choosing what feels right to us.
What is draining your life energy? Accept what you can’t change, and change what you can.
Throughout this session I continued to ask Joan to check in with her own body, her feelings, and her self talk. Repeatedly I asked her to imagine going to the golf outing, and to notice what happened in her body, her breathing, and her self talk when she played the imagined story of that event happening. All of this continued to change as we tapped. By the end of the session she was talking about how she could just go to the golfing event and keep her mind focused on being approachable, with her body language, her facial expression, her eye contact. She realized that there would likely be lots of people there who would be feeling nervous and shy. Maybe there would even be others who hadn’t ever played golf!
In fact, I encouraged her to remember that she could see more deeply into a person than most people can, and see what they need, because of her sensitivity and because of her acupuncture training. So she had the opportunity to think of herself as a resource for everyone there, even if they didn’t know it! That was a very different "personal shape" to create. Feeling like a resource is very different from feeling alone and left out. The universe responds to the shape we create for ourselves, like water flowing around a boulder in the stream.
Joan acknowleged that this was true, and that she could actually feel that "personal shaping process" happening inside. I asked her to find where in her body she felt this, and we did some tapping to anchor this feeling in her being, and connect it with her (powerful, wise, shark-like) presence at the golf outing. I didn’t even think of adding a riff on "getting a hole in one," but I should have!
By the end of the session, Joan was feeling "buzzy and invigorated" when she thought of going to the bank’s golf event, instead of scared and alone and incompetent!
"Everyone Needs Me for Something, They Just Don’t Know it Yet!"
Later on, she sent me this email:
As for Thursday, as of now I have to be honest in saying…I don’t feel much. But by not feeling much, that includes not feeling the apprehension and fear… I still think I am in over my head (who says yes to a golf tournament when they can’t golf?) but when I think that, I also just laugh and shake my head. I know it will give me something to approach other’s about, and if there is anything that I love, it making people laugh. I know the doubt will be waiting on the sides to creep into my mind if I let it…and I will be tapping on it (as I did yesterday for the triathlon) and I will go into it with the idea (and one of my favorite things you said) that everyone there needs me for something, they just don’t know it yet and don’t know why.
With my love and blessings all around –
For more information about Betty Moore Hafter’s CD, go to http://www.holistichypnotherapyeft.com/eft-store_uniquecds.php#1
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