A theme in my tapping sessions this week seemed to be “my mother.” Our relationship with our mothers is a rich resource for learning how to honor what is right for us as individuals, instead of seeking the approval of someone else who appears to have power and authority in our lives. Often not easy, but a really useful learning!
Noelle (not her real name, but quoted with permission) said, “It boils down to being able to claim my own space. As a child I was sort of a “bud” off the body/mind of my mother. She pretty much owned all of who I was and there was no opportunity for me to separate myself from her. When I grew up I did leave home and forge my own life and identity. But there was a pattern that was formed between us that has plagued me all my life, in various forms. It was not OK to have separate feelings, especially if they conflicted with those of my mother. It was certainly not ever OK to disagree with her; I thought that would have meant certain death.”
Nicki (her real name, quoted with permission) said, “As long as I stay financially needy, my mom feels needed.” Nicki wants to be an EFT practitioner. However, she has a lot of beliefs about how hard it would be to be successful, and what a struggle it could be. Some part of her keeps sabotaging her own success. Success feels too risky, because her mother and other family members didn’t believe she could be successful.
As a tapper there are many ways we could approach this “mother stuff.”
Tapping with either Nicki or Noelle, we could begin with specific success-sabotaging incidents in the past or the present. We could tap for the beliefs that have arisen because of those events. We could tap for all the physical and emotional responses each woman had as a result.
In a situation like these two women faced, where the limitations were created over a long time, through many many events, sometimes it is good to begin with a more global approach. Beginning globally can set the stage for later, more specific work. Beginning globally can create a foundation, a bowl that will hold all the rest of our creative tapping for specific instances relevant to re-imagining who we are in the world.
A good way to work globally with an impact on the specifics is to use a visual image that represents the problem. I am describing the following as a session with another person, but you can easily adapt this way of working with yourself, using your own issues. Here is how to work globally with an image.
First, I needed to hear from Nicki about the dimensions of her relationship with her family and her mother and herself.
I asked her to state her problem in a short phrase of 3-10 words. For Nicki, the problem was “I can’t be successful because my mom needs to feel needed“.
I asked Nicki if she thought she deserved to be successful as an EFT practitioner.
Predictably, she had a conflict. Logically, of course, she deserved to be successful! But there was something in her that wanted to stay connected with her family, especially her mother, and that part of her was saying no to success.
The next step is to ask “Where in your body do you feel this problem?“ Nicki felt the NO in her gut, as a “slow churning in my stomach.”
I asked if she could come up with an image that could represent this feeling. Nicki thinks very visually, and images ares easy for her. (It is very possible to do this process utilizing senses other than the visual. I will cover that in another article). She immediately pictured a “bent over, burdened, chubby, depressed dwarfish old man.” He had a big heavy backpack on his shoulders, and he was trudging on, looking down, dragging his feet, wearing old work boots. Every step was a chore. Nicki called him “a hobo-esque Mr. Natural.”
These were lots of great specific details, each of which represented, in some way, an aspect of Nicki’s dilemma, and how she was carrying it in her body. I believe that the body IS the unconscious mind. As an image, Mr. Natural was Nicki’s inner mind talking to her conscious mind.
You have heard the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words…” An image is a brilliant representation of a global issue, because all the details are right there too. Each one is important, and each one is tappable. We don’t necessarily have to know what any of the details “means.”
On the other hand, some of the details may be evocative and revealing, and they can be fun to explore. Pay attention to the story about the character or scene that emerges from the details, and follow your curiosity. Watch the details magically change as you tap. The person’s inner mind is re-imagining the story about them.
Even though I have this hobo-esque Mr. Natural, and he is bent over and burdened, I accept myself anyway.
Even though I have this hobo-esque Mr. Natural, and he is bent over, burdened, chubby and depressed….
I accept myself anyway, and I wonder if there is a different or deeper way to think about all this.
Even though Mr. Natural is a dwarfish old man with a big heavy back pack, and he is trudging along, each step is a chore…. somehow he represents my belief that I can’t be successful….I have to be financially needy so that my mom feels needed… I accept myself anyway and I honor myself for what a heavy burden this has been for me to carry.
Then we tapped through the points a few times, saying one of the phrases or descriptive words at each point. (I didn’t ask Nicki about the word “hobo-esque,” but I might have. It would be interesting to explore the concept of “hobo,” in relation to this part of her, and in connection with the concept of “Mr. Natural.” Our inner minds have a lot to say, and they are quite clever in their communications!)
At the end of the tapping rounds I asked Nicki to check in with Mr. Natural. Was anything different about him? She said he looked brighter, and ornery, instead of depressed. He was also saying, “I’m not going anywhere! I am here to stay.”
That suggested to me that Mr. Natural had a reason for being there. There was something that he was trying to accomplish for Nicki, and he was devoted to this task. So I asked Nicki to ask him “What are you trying to get for me that is positive?”
She said, “He is trying to keep me from getting cocky and overconfident. His job is to challenge me, to say ‘Are you sure about this?‘ That’s why I never get successful. I stop my forward motion toward something good by second-guessing myself before any success can happen.'”
I asked her to consider what bad thing would happen if she was successful. “Oh, that would rock the boat,” she said. “My family would abandon me.”
So we tapped:
Even though Mr. Natural thinks he is keeping me from getting cocky and too confident, and some of that may be useful, I accept myself and what he is trying to do.
Even though Mr. Natural stops me from being successful, and in his mind he is helping me, I accept myself enough to want to bring some healing to this.
Even though something in me thinks that if I am too successful, it would rock the boat, and my family would abandon me…. and I appreciate Mr. Natural for trying to keep me connected…. I accept myself enough to honor my deep need for connection. I want to find a way to connect to myself first.
We tapped through the points with all these thoughts.
Then, while we tapped continuously through all the points (I think of this as talk-tapping, without stopping to do set-up phrases), Nicki and I talked about how important connection is to a highly sensitive person. We talk-tapped about how that need to feel connected had allowed Nicki to be manipulated by her mother’s wishes for much of her life.
We talk-tapped about how it was likely that her mother had similar issues with trying to gain the approval of someone else, in stead of herself, in her past, and that she may have been unconsciously using Nicki to gain her own sense of connection. There had probably been no one in her mother’s life who had modeled self-connection to her either, so of course she couldn’t teach that to Nicki.
Next, I asked Nicki to find out if Mr Natural would be willing to take on a new job that would help her to stay connected to herself. When she could make connecting to herself her first priority she would be so much less vulnerable to her mother’s needs, and more aware of her own.
Instantly Mr.Natural popped into Nicki’s imagination as an animated young man standing straight up at the helm of the boat, smiling broadly. “He is having a Titanic Moment!” she said, laughing. “Now I am calling him the ‘Bullshit Finder.’ His job now is as negotiator. He makes sure that I don’t give myself away. He keeps me from jumping into things, too much too soon.”
“And he is feeling welcomed, instead of hated!” she added. “His backpack is gone. It just rolled off and fell overboard. He is the Captain of the ship!”
Especially because Mr. Natural is here to help me, and wants to make sure that I don’t give my success away to get someone else’s approval….
I know I can’t meet someone else’s needs and I can’t be responsible for how they feel….I am choosing now to find ways to be successful connecting with myself….
I know that standing up for myself will lead to all kinds of new possibilities opening up….
Thank you Mr. Natural, the Captain of my ship!
When we had finished, the feeling in her gut had completely changed. It felt “warm, easy and wavy.” The slow churning in her stomach had stopped. Nicki was easily able to say YES to deserving success. She also was beginning to imagine a whole new relationship with her family, as well as success in becoming an EFT practitioner.
As time passes, Nicki will perhaps find that, as she is more successful in new ways, there is more tapping to do with her relationship with her family. When any of us changes how we act and think, the whole system around us must change in response. We are changing the family ecology. Not everyone will be happy with us when we change.
Our change means that they must become aware of some things they might rather leave unexamined. That will bring up emotions in everyone, and our job then is to learn to stay connected to ourselves, and stand up for what is right for us. Not so easy! We may be changing generations of firmly held beliefs. With tapping, meditation and other energy work, we can help ourselves to keep returning to center, even as the boat rocks.
Some time after this session, I asked Nicki what it was like for her now as a result of the tapping we had done.
I feel much more calm and confident about going into uncharted territory for me, starting an EFT practice. I had an unexpected short day at work and even though I was dressed like a beautiful green witch (it was near Halloween), I decided to stop in at a surgery clinic (Nicki is a nurse) and talk to their clinical research specialist and we did a little brainstorming together.
It remains to be seen if she will email as promised. Even if she doesn’t, I won’t take it as a personal affront as I would have in the past. Or, as my usual saying goes, get so “butt hurt”. She gave me some good ideas and contacts and I am looking forward to following up with those and putting together some sort of ‘horse and pony show’ to get my message and intent into the community.
Normally I would be haunted with a sense of urgency to hurry things along before my drive fizzles out. Now, I like being a Steady Freddy.
Below are the basic steps for this re-imagining process. Feel free to experiment with them on your own. (Be aware that this is not “classic” EFT. It is my creative adaptation.)
- Get a sense of the dimensions of the problem.
- Describe the problem in 3-10 words.
- Notice how you experience it in your body, where do you feel it?
- Find a visual representation of the problem. It can be a character, a cartoon image, an object, even a scene.
- Tap for all the details in the image, without trying to interpret them.
- Tap for all the physical and emotional responses.
- After each tapping round, check back with the original image to notice how it is changing. Incorporate the new details in your tapping.
- If it seems relevant, ask the image, “What are you trying to get for me that is positive?”
- If it seems useful, do talk-tapping (continuous tapping while talking about the issue).
- If it seems relevant, ask the image if it wants a different job.
- Incorporate the “new job,” and any positive responses into your tapping set-ups.
- Keep checking back to feel into how you are holding the problem now.
Enjoy this co-creative process, and be curious about where it could take you!
With my love and blessings all around—
RueMother and Daughter sculpture by Maureen Bushe, http://www.maureenbushe.com
Photographs courtesy of Dreamstime.com and Google images