Kathryn was the brave tapping volunteer in a recent complimentary teleclass (http://tinyurl.com/EFTwithRue) Her story seemed quite simple on the surface. She was worried about her 26 year old son, who had moved into his own apartment with 3 other young men. She wanted him to be independent, but she worried a lot about whether he would be OK.
This is what I didn’t know when we began:
When Kathryn was 5 years old a “terrible trauma” (her words) had befallen her suddenly. “I had been going along as a happy energetic child, a cheerful free spirit, and then something dreadful happened out of the blue. After that, I knew that anything could happen at any time, even when things are going fine, and I had to be on the lookout for it, always. It is decades later now, and I still can’t stop worrying.”
We did this whole tapping session without the rest of us on the call knowing what actually happened when Kathryn was five.
It turned out that Kathryn came from a family of worriers. “Oh, Mum’s a worrier,” is what they all said about her grandmother, and her father was a highly sensitive man who had become an unpredictable alcoholic.
I asked her if she had done any therapeutic work around the “dreadful experience.” Was there a lot of emotional response in her when she thought about it now? Or was the problem mostly showing up as the belief in her that “I can’t stop worrying?”
Kathryn said she had done quite a lot of work on the incident, and “It’s mostly the belief now,” she said. “I just have some feelings stuffed down inside about it. It feels like a habit—a way of being or perceiving things.”
It often happens in a tapping session that the person I am working with says something that they themselves don’t hear, as if their unconscious mind is offering a powerful truth to me that needs to be brought to light. I could tell that it hadn’t occurred to Kathryn to connect her constant worrying with her stuffed feelings. As we talked a bit about that, Kathryn said “This thought just popped into my head: Life is not safe.”
That seemed like a good place to start!
She felt this statement as fear and anxiety. In her body she felt “a tightness and pressure in my abdomen, a light fluttery feeling above my navel, and a hollow echo-y feeling in my center up to my throat.”
I was thinking about that “hollow place” in her center. I said, “I believe that sometimes, if a really scary unexpected thing happened to a child, it is as if a part of them leaves their body. Psychologists call this dissociation. If you could locate the part of you that ‘left’ in your own personal space around yourself, where would it be?” I prefaced this question by acknowledging that this might be a weird question to her, so she should only answer it if it felt accurate. But Kathryn popped right back by saying definitively, “It is above my head, about six feet up and back a little, right over my crown chakra, and it is hovering.”
So before we tapped, I asked Kathryn to gently touch into the feelings in her body, and notice 0-10 what the intensity of them was. She said it was a 9.
Even though I have this belief that ‘life is not safe,’ and that started a long time ago, I accept myself anyway, and I accept that there is a part of me that is thinking and feeling this way.
Even though I can’t stop worrying, and worrying is deeply embedded in my family spirit, I accept that there is something in me that feels that way and is kind of programmed to be that way, and I honor myself for how hard this has been.
Even though something in me believes that life is not safe, and on top of that I was taught that it doesn’t matter what you want because you won’t get it, I accept that is the way it was, and I am ready to bring healing to this. I want to know if there is a different way that I can think about all this.
Tapping through the points:
Something in me believes that life is not safe
That scary thing that happened when I was a little girl, and everything had been going fine, and then something terrible happened all of a sudden
That made me believe for the rest of my life that life was not safe
I have a lot of fear that is buried inside.
That experience scared me and I feel like some part of me left, and I have this hollow echoey empty space in my center
This feels like fear to me
This empty feeling fear
I don’t feel safe
I can’t stop worrying
Something dreadful can happen at any moment
I know this because I experienced it
Life is not safe
I can’t stop worrying
I asked Kathryn to pause here, while she tapped on her collarbone point, and take some deep breaths, all the way down into her abdomen… “See how deep your breath can go… imagine you can fill your center all way down to your abdomen with breath, moving all the way down….”
She said that now her center felt “not echo-y, not hollow, not empty.” I asked her—if it was “not” all those things, what was it? Suddenly she had tears. “My center now has some life in it,” she said shakily. I asked, “How do you experience life in your center?” “Gosh,” Kathryn said. “A bit of solidity?”
So we did some more tapping, starting with those inner sensations.
Especially because in my center I am not feeling echo-y or hollow or full, I accept myself, and I appreciate that feeling of solid life that is growing there.
Even though I have these tears, and if if these tears had words they would
be saying… (what would they be saying?)
…these tears are saying… ‘You deserve to live and you deserve to be happy!’
I accept that I have these tears and I love hearing that voice in me that says ‘You deserve to live.’
I didn’t know that I could deserve to live
Something about that experience made me believe that I didn’t deserve to live
I thought I didn’t deserve to live—I thought it was all my fault
And nobody understood
Nobody even knew because I couldn’t tell
I have been holding all those feelings in ever since
There was nobody I could tell, and I forgot about the feelings, the whole thing
Those feelings have been stuffed down in there ever since, and I thought I forgot about them
But all the rest of my life I have been worrying…
I had a thought, and I told Kathryn that I was just going to say what was coming into my mind—she could go with it if it felt right, or change it. I asked her to tap on the back of her hand on the 9 gamut point while I talked. This is a location in the energy meridian system that communicates with the fight/flight/freeze response. When it can be calmed by tapping on this point, we are able to think more clearly, disengage from stuck fear-based responses, and make different choices. (See http://www.eftfree.net/get-the-eftfree-manual/ for how to do this process.)
As Kathryn tapped, I said “You thought you had forgotten all those feelings, but now you are finding that you had just stuffed them down there really solidly—that is where your solidness is! So you left the center of yourself hollow. On the one hand you have had this hollow feeling in your heart center, where Chinese Medicine says the Spirit resides, and at the same time you have felt a really solid tightness of fear in your abdomen… You can see that there has been a deep conflict in your being…a conflict between solidness and hollowness, hollowness where your heart is, and fear trapped deep in your gut. A part of your bright spirit had to leave your heart to survive…”
After this tapping, all Kathryn’s physical symptoms of the problem were gone.
Now I told her that I wanted to invent something with her. She was willing to explore. I asked her to tap on her collarbone point while I talked:
“Bring your adult self back to your child self, just before the moment that this terrible thing happened. There she is, going along, things are fine, she is a cheerful little free spirit… Now, in some way pull her into your lap, or just be there with her, reaching for a feeling of comfort in yourself and holding this for her. We will explain to her as we tap that something is going to happen to her that will be really scary and dreadful, and she will be able to deal with it. And you as your adult self will be there to help her. Take me along too if you want to! Let her know that she has the resources inside to deal with it and to stay in her body.”
Even though that terrible thing happened, I am going back now in time to my little girl self, and I’m letting her know that I am here for her. Right now everything is just fine in her life, and I am letting her know that there is a change coming.
(I added here, “You might imagine picking up her hand and tapping on it”)
Even though you, my dear little girl self… (“I was called Elizabeth then,” Kathryn said).
Even though Elizabeth, you are feeling happy now and life is going well, I want you to know that something scary is about to happen, and I am here with you. I am your grown-up-self, and we are going to go through this together. I will be right with you, and I want you to know that you have everything inside that you to need to take care of yourself when this happens.
Something scary is about to happen
You are OK deep inside
I am right here with you.
You are not alone
I am right here with you
You are not alone
I continued, “Tap on your chest, Kathryn, and take a moment to re-experience that event, in imagination, being with your little Elizabeth self during this experience, holding her, talking to her, telling her the truth about herself, letting her know that she can manage this and she can talk to you about it. There won’t be people in her life that she can share this with, but she can talk to you about it. I will be quiet here—I am holding you, Kathryn, in this space, while you are holding Elizabeth, your little girl self, in spacious comfort, a safe deep inner knowing of resource, while you tap on your collarbone point.
“Let her re-experience what happened while knowing that you are there, she is not alone, she is safe. It is hard, it is scary, it is dreadful, and she will be all right. You are living proof that she deserves to live.
“Let your story go on for a little while after that experience, so that little Elizabeth knows that she survived, she is OK, even though it was awful, she is OK, she is never alone. Let me know when your internal experience of this is complete.”
There was a long moment of silence. Then Kathryn spoke:
I took her to the lake, we went into the lake, and she had a big cry and I held her. At the end she had a big sigh, looked up at me and hugged me. She knows that I am there and she is not isolated. It is no longer a hollow echo-y experience inside. She knows that there is a big person who knows and who is safe and who loves her.
I said: “Still tapping on your chest, invite her to come back inside your heart, where her home is, even though she hasn’t been there since that bad experience. Ask her if she would like to grow up to be her adult self in you, knowing that she brings all of her childlike joy and innocence and free spirit, while you provide for her your experience and wisdom about being in the world. Is she willing to come home?”
Letting her float down now, that six feet, into the crown of your head, coming into your heart… However you imagine this happening it is OK…
I am inviting my child self to come home
I am Elizabeth, and I am coming home into my Kathryn self…nestled up near her heart (Kathryn added this last phrase to her tapping)
I am Elizabeth and I am coming home into my heart, in my grown up Kathryn self
I am Kathryn/Elizabeth and I am whole and healed
I am Kathryn/Elizabeth and my heart is happy
I know that dreadful things can happen at any time
I know that I will be able to deal with them
I have Elizabeth’s sunshine in my heart
and Elizabeth has my adult awareness of the world
And I Kathryn have a sun and a son in my heart.
And I had been worried about him…
And he, being part of the ancestral lineage in my family, is a worrier too…
But as worry heals in me it heals in him
I want him to know that he is able to deal with his situation
And all our ancestors are around us in a healing circle…. where they are now they understand worrying and fear from a whole different perspective, from a healed place
I know that dreadful things can happen at any time, and I know that I will be able to deal with it
Now I can let my son know that truth too
I know that I will be able to deal with what ever happens, and I know my son will too.
I am his ancestor…and I am passing this knowing along into the future.
After we completed this round of tapping, I asked Kathryn to say that phrase, “Life is not safe” to herself and notice her internal response. I asked her to feel into the way she had been holding the situation before we tapped, and how she was holding it now.
Kathryn said, “It is like that whole issue is back over there geographically at his house, not anywhere near me. I am comfortable that it is his thing, I don’t even need to say “It will be fine,” because that isn’t even a part of it, of course it will be fine. I feel it, I don’t need to say it.”
I suggested that if she had been holding her son and his roommates in worry and fear, it would have been harder for them to be successful. And interestingly, if she holds them now in a neutral loving confident clear place with faith, it eases the way for all of them to be successful in trying to be independent and confident within themselves. I said that I spoke as a mother myself, who came from a worried family. I asked her if that made sense.
She responded, “It does make sense. It feels like the difference between imagining their house with shadows and mist around it, and seeing their house in sunshine on a bright brilliantly sunny day. So all I have to do is keep seeing their house in a bright sunny day, and I am adding what I can to the situation. The rest is up to them. They need to learn how to do this for themselves.
“I knew that intellectually before, but now it is a knowing in my cells.”
The next day Kathryn wrote me an email: “Today, when I met with my son, he was very upset about his roommate, who has some real problems. My son needed to talk & talk about the problems & guess what? I was able to be there for him; empathize & not take it on & really not even feel upset inside myself like I normally would have. So our work got the ‘acid test’ pretty quickly!!!”
With my love and blessings,