This was the theme for the most recent Complimentary EFT Circle class, and it was very popular! It seemed to touch a nerve for lots of people.
I have heard a version of this phrase so often. We are all so good at being the strong one, the competent one, the dependable and reliable one. We have had to learn how to do that because in the past, it may not have been possible or safe or appropriate to express what we were actually feeling. Or maybe being the "go to" person seemed like the only way to get some approval. We try so hard.
So many of us have just learned to swallow what was really inside us, stuffing down the words or the tears or maybe even the joy and excitement. It was all too much. We locked up whatever we wanted for ourselves. We taught ourselves not to want. We taught ourselves to think that what we wanted was what They wanted us to want.
Now we are stuck in a grey world of "should" and "have to" and "better not" and "I am all alone here." We think we have no choices.
Thinking and tapping together about "Toughing it Out"
To begin to think and tap together as a group on the "tough it out" theme, first I asked people who had registered for the class to complete several sentences.
I asked people to complete some sentences, including these:
I have to TOUGH IT OUT because…
A belief (behavior, outlook on life, self-image…) about TOUGHING IT OUT AND SOLDIERING ON that I got from my family is…
That has created a problem in my life because (or when -)…
That made me feel…
It made me think I was…
I feel that in my body here:
It turned out that many people were willing to volunteer as demonstration EFT tappers! They sent me their completed sentences.
Some of the beliefs about toughing it out and soldiering on that were common to many of us were:
I have to be tough. The world is a tough place.
It is up to me. No one will help me.
It is weak to ask for help. I will be hurt if I ask for help.
______ (fill in the blank) is my fault, so I have to be perfect to make up for it.
If I cry they will call me a cry baby and shame me.
I can’t show what I am really feeling — that makes me too vulnerable.
I don’t deserve support.
I have to prove that…(fill in the blank!)
Some of the feelings that came up around these beliefs:
Anxiety, sadness, fear, anger, feeling vulnerable, feeling crazy, alone, helpless, depressed, dismissed, guilty, unworthy, trapped…
The physical symptoms of these often unconscious beliefs were wide ranging.
Chronic nausea, " a gripping feeling in my center," a square block of tension in my back," "my heart hurts," "my chest and throat ache," "My legs feel weak and I am off balance," "I can’t breathe," "something heavy sitting on my chest."
If you are familiar with EFT you will be noticing that these beliefs and feelings make perfect beginning set up statements:
Even though I think I have to be tough because the world is a tough place, and you only survive if you have a hard enough shell…I accept myself anyway, and I honor myself for how difficult this has been.
Even though I can’t cry because that makes me look weak, and they will make fun of me like they did when I was growing up…I love, accept and appreciate myself for finding a way to survive.
Even though I honor other people’s trauma more than my own, I realize that my chronic nausea is telling me that I am literally sick of ignoring my own trauma, I accept that I have been living this way and I am choosing now to pay attention to what I need.
These beliefs are so powerful in our lives because we grew up in the midst of them. We didn’t think to question them. Our parents probably believed something similar, and they unconsciously thought they were doing us a favor by making us tough so that we would survive, just like they did. That means that someone taught them that the world was a hard, unforgiving place. And those people learned it from their parents as well. When we heal these old unexamined beliefs in ourselves, we are healing the heart of humanity.
One of the volunteers said that she felt the pain of this belief in her shoulder, and she had a wonderful phrase to describe it: "a sharp red burning pain in my shoulders, that radiates to my arms and my skull." I love it when people use descriptive words and metaphors to describe what they feel. It puts my imagination right to work.
Tapping for the Shoulder Soldiers
We began to tap for this red burning pain in her shoulders, and at one point as she repeated the phrases; she accidentally said "the burning red pain in my soldiers." That caught my attention! I visualized all these tough, hard working, exhausted, confused, hurting red-coated soldiers in her shoulders! They extended into her arms and her neck, working too hard, carrying burdens, often feeling events that happened to her as a "pain in the neck."
I began to wonder out loud as we tapped through the points about all these shoulder soldiers (shoulder soldiers?) who have been working so hard all these years to carry the burdens she felt. She had said "It is very difficult for me to ask for support, or to admit weakness or failure/mistakes. This causes a lot of stress and also isolation."
We tapped. I offered some phrases, and invited her to speak up with phrases and ideas that were occurring to her. We often stopped to check in with the feeling in her shoulders and her neck. Sometimes we would begin in a new direction with the same issue as it came to us. This is a much shortened version of the flow of our tapping:
…soldiering on has gotten really old… I’m ready to stop fighting… but those soldiers were protecting things… without that protection I’m feeling all kinds of stuff all of a sudden and it’s overwhelming… it’s really painful… it’s a pain in the neck… my arms hurt…I can’t reach out for help…and being overwhelmed, I don’t know where to start… all these overwhelming emotions… the feeling I have to do it all on my own… all this sadness…all this anger…I can’t ask for help… I don’t value myself enough to ask for support… I feel like I’m just one big ball of pain all of a sudden… My defenses are down and all I do is cry… but I’ll be rejected if I cry… I don’t even want to do EFT.
Asking for Help
At one point after awhile I felt a little stuck in our tapping process, sort of un-tethered out there in space with her valiant shoulder soldiers, but needing to bring the session to a reasonable stopping place since we were nearly out of time. As it so often happens for me, I sent out a little request to the universe for help here.
Suddenly I was struck with a thought. This was a woman who said she couldn’t reach out for help, and here she was sharing her own deep feelings with an unseen but very present group of over 200 people. There was an implicit invitation to this community of co-tappers to create a "network of holding" and a powerful intention in their own hearts that she, and all of us, might find ways to heal this issue. We all wanted the best for her! It was making us feel good to be asked for help!
(In the wonderful magic of EFT tapping, the concept of Borrowing Benefits suggests that we all gain benefits in working through our own problems when we tap together as a group. There is even science to back this up!)
So I began to weave in words about all of us being together in a common mission to heal each other, and by extension to heal the heart of humanity. Part of me was thinking that maybe this might too "spacey" a concept for some people, but a stronger part of me could feel the powerful effect that was flowing through the group, and especially through the volunteer tapper. I trusted that. Her voice tone was changing, and her verbal responses were changing, and I could hear sighs and yawns.
Asking for support can foster loving connections
After the class, this is what this volunteer wrote to me:
I am really glad I didn’t know beforehand, that there were so many people listening in, but I also think that added to the power of the session for me. It was quite a big step for me to stay present with so many ‘observers’, as I generally suffer from performance anxiety in a BIG way, and have a habit of going blank in those kinds of situations.
My shoulders are a LOT easier than they’ve been in years. Some of the stuff around not being able to be strong & ask for support at the same time is REALLY important, I’ve never connected that so clearly before, so it’s been either ‘shouldering’ on alone – that one is going to be a classic here! – or making myself weak and disempowered.
The other really important insight for me has to do with the mission, or maybe rather purpose, of creating connections and opportunities for mutual love through asking for support, that possibility is truly a revelation to me, I need to work a bit more on that one! I’m glad you’re continuing with the ‘toughing it out’ theme, that’s juicy stuff.
With my love and blessings to you all –
(Again, if you would like to hear the recording of the whole class, and the work with the other volunteer as well, you can find it here for only $8.95:
Scroll down to select the recording for purchase)