Recently I have found myself in EFT sessions asking people the question, "What did you want to say that you couldn’t?" Here are five examples of tapping sessions that dealt with this question.
I was listening as someone was telling me how much better she was doing since our last session. The pain and cramping that had made her hands "stuck closed" had loosened up now. But then she began to describe how the pain seemed to be "moving up my arms into my neck, where it used to be, a sharp, burning pain." (I always ask, "Pain like what?")
I asked her when she first started noticing pain like this, and she began talking about thirty years earlier when she had such terrible tension in her jaw.
I imagined her jaw clenched closed… and the question popped out. "What did you want to say back then, or even earlier in your childhood, but couldn’t?"
The answer wasn’t right on the surface for her yet. Tapping on the side of her hand, she mused out loud until she got to it:
"There was something in my mind all the time back then…I kept thinking, ‘I can’t wait to get out of childhood, I can’t wait to get out of my family….I wanted to scream….Let me out of here!!!!…This is a crazy place…I don’t belong here!’ "
"You know what?" she said, in surprise.
"I was keeping my mouth closed so I wouldn’t say that to my mother! And I wanted to say ‘Why are you hitting me???’ I had to control myself so I wouldn’t ask ‘Why?’ when she said NO you can’t ride your bike, go for a walk, play outside. She always said no. And when I asked her why, she always said, ‘Because I said so.’ I had no voice."
I had been scribbling furiously as she said all this, and now we had lots of set-up statements that cycled around wanting and needing and having something to say, and not being able to say it. She was easily able to make the connection with situations in her life ever since then, when she had something to say that was her own, but she didn’t say it. In fact, she had only recently escaped from a marriage where she had no voice, and now found herself in a relationship where she could see herself falling into the same pattern, though she was now well beyond the helpless person she had been earlier in her life.
By the time we were done tapping, this woman had been feeling waves of tension sweeping through and out of her jaw, and it was now relaxed and open. Now she could feel what she wanted to say to her current partner with strength and clarity.
Another time that I popped this question this week was when a different client was talking about the dreams she was having.
"Lately all my dreams have a theme of ‘Pay attention to me,’" she said.
She was feeling as if there was a child part of her that she hadn’t acknowledged, that there were "feelings inside that I am not feeling—they are stuck in there."
I asked her to just use her imagination and start talking. What could this be about? Often a person says they don’t know what is going on, but when I say "Just pretend that you do know," they start talking and something almost always emerges that is a revelation for both of us.
In this case, this woman, who is about 35 and has a job that is OK but doesn’t really tap her creativity and intelligence, began to talk.
She said: "Well, I have always had a hard time in my life knowing what I want to do. I am always carried along by others’ expectations. I feel scared of listening and finding out what I want."
This last sentence jumped out at me.
“Where in your body do you feel that ‘scared of finding out what I want’ feeling,” I asked. Often when we give our attention to something that we have been avoiding, it just naturally begins to open out. Giving our attention to the physically held aspect of the feeling is safer than approaching it directly as emotion or memory.
"I feel it a lot in my throat—it’s tight," she said. It’s tight. It is like there is a lot of heavy sadness stuck in my throat. My throat is contracted around this sadness. It wants to come up and out, but my throat doesn’t want it to come out."
"What if you let it up and out?" I asked. "What would happen?"
"Oh, I would make a HORRIBLE sound — my head might explode — I couldn’t control it!" she exclaimed.
We began our tapping right there, with the sensations in her throat and the sadness. To make this a safe experience for her, I invited my client to imagine that there was an ally in her own belief system — a real person, an angel, a mythical figure — that could hold her safely while she tapped, so that her throat could be opening. She had been reading Carolyn Myss’ book about archetypes, and chose the Angel archetype as "a strong, serene, supportive presence that could guide me and protect me through it." I asked her to build an image of this presence, and how it felt to be held by it. Then we tapped.
She realized that this strong painful sadness came from feeling abandoned as a child. She had been holding this deep pain in since then. Her throat had been closed around the fear of feeling this pain. Now that she had been alerted by her dreams, and knew what they were about, she knew that she could handle working with the issue with EFT.
Another client called to say that she (it just happened that these examples are all women, but it could just as easily been men!) wanted to cancel the session because she had this terrible cough that was draining her energy. She felt exhausted all the time. She had actually had this cough for many years, she told me, but it was particularly bad right now. She had an appointment tomorrow to see a doctor about her hypothyroidism.
Instead of canceling, we worked on the cough.
"What are you trying to cough up?" I was thinking. Right away I asked my question. Her answer turned up something interesting. Her issues came down to this:
"I didn’t have any right to have an opinion, even though I knew inside that my opinion was right. My mother punished me for saying what I thought if I disagreed with her. But when I think of it, my grandmother never was able to say, or even know, what she thought. This issue must go way back in my family."
Long story short: it turns out that in naturopathic medicine, the thyroid reflects a person’s voice in their life. When the voice "feels trapped," over time, the accumulated effect gives rise to symptoms that can include poor thyroid function.
It makes sense that holding in and repressing one’s own truth could result in physiological symptoms like:
- severe fatigue, loss of energy
- weight gain, difficulty losing weight
- depression and depressed mood
- joint and muscle pain, headaches
We tapped on her cough. We tapped on several specific events in her life around the time that the cough began to show up where she had felt that someone was trying to "kill me emotionally," and she hadn’t felt able to speak up for herself. It wasn’t too long before she said, "Now I know I have a right to see things my way, and I have a right to have an opinion!"
One more example: Another client, Patsy, had also been telling me how much better she is doing lately. "My self talk is much more reassuring," she was saying. I asked her for some examples.
"My self talk says:
‘Slow down. Do one thing at a time. Do what you can do. You don’t have to do it all right now.’
I am slower to get annoyed or irritated with myself. I understand myself better now. The only thing I am not so good at is letting go of all the Should’s.
In fact, it has been kind of a big plus for me to have the disease I do." (She has Crohn’s Disease)
Now, statements like Patsy’s last one are a huge red flag for me! They mean that some body condition has become part of the client’s identity, and is performing a function for them that, inside, they think they can not perform for themselves, for whatever reason. The equation goes like this:
Physical condition = sabotage of healing in order to protect myself.
I asked Patsy what she meant by "big plus."
She said: "If you eat wrong, or hold emotional things in, the disease flares up. It gives me power I don’t have on my own to say no."
"So, Patsy," I asked, "Who, in your past, could you not say no to?"
"I couldn’t say no to my mother. Her routine was always ‘Mother knows best.’ She made my life miserable. I had a very close relationship with her when I was little, but the cost was in saying no to me in order to say yes to her. I tried, I argued with her, but that got me in a lot more trouble. It was just easer to give up, give in."
To work with this sabotaging set up with Patsy, I mapped the information so it would all be right there in front of me as we tapped. I am going to demonstrate this mapping method that I have developed at the Denver EFT Master Showcase in July (see announcements). If you are not coming to Denver, you can create your own map. Think of some interesting and easy-to-remember shape that has several points, each of which can be a gathering place for certain information. I use a stick figure of the human body.
We chose a situation in Patsy’s history that illustrated the problem with "saying no" and triggered a reaction to it in her body.
We gave the situation a TITLE:
Mother Knows Best
Under that I wrote her statement:
I had to say no to me in order to say yes to her.
The FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS were:
- and sadness
These feelings get triggered by:
- the snide tone in her voice
- the look on her face
Translated into words they mean
- You are so wrong
- I hate you for your choice
- You shouldn’t want this.
- You should want what I want.
The SYMPTOMS AND BEHAVIORS were:
- a clenching feeling in my stomach and my chest that moves across my collarbone
- A feeling of bracing myself
- my shoulders feel like they are weighted down
- am waiting for confidence to magically descend
(I pointed out the interesting fact that the word "shoulders" has the word "should" in it, and there is the evocative play on words in "wait/weight," all of which can be woven creatively into the EFT wording.)
The BELIEFS that arose from the experience were:
- I don’t have a right to my own opinion
- What I think doesn’t matter
- I have no power
- I am not good enough
The POSITIVE INTENTION of the emotions was:
- My anger and sadness want me to acknowledge that I am a person in my own right
- I am free to think for myself
- It is OK for me to want what I want
- I can express my own opinion and still be loved and supported
- I can say Yes to me!
Together we tapped for all of these emotions, symptoms, and beliefs. For me, one of the good things about having all these words and phrases right in front of me in my map is that it stimulates my intuition and my creativity. I find myself riffing off of unusual combinations of these words and concepts in a way that is fun to do, and often funny. It is a good thing to laugh in the midst of a serious EFT session!
I concocted various takes on "Mother Knows Best" at one point, playing with: Mother No’s Best…
- How good do YOU want to be at no-ing…
- The No’s of Truth…
- Your own opinion is as clear as the no’s on your face…
- I should no better…
- I can and do no better now!
- can carry on my own shoulders what my Self Knows about my no’s!
Probably some even better ones are occurring to you right now.
We completed the tapping session by tapping in all the Positive Intentions. I used a similar creative weaving style, sometimes with humor, but more often with the intention of grounding Patsy’s own sincere, powerful sense of Presence and Truth.
Now, when she looks back on her life, she can recognize that this sense of rightness and strength and trust in her self has been there always. I invited her to remember specific times where she could NOtice that this is true. She has always had an opinion and a voice, and now she KNOWS she can trust it. YES!
EFT is an effective healing tool!
With my love and blessings –