Tapping For More Freedom

Not in controlAs adults we can make decisions and cause things to happen, we have the ability to be ‘at cause’ in our lives.

Being ‘at cause’ means we are resourceful, capable and able to act to influence our lives and we know that we can influence the course of our lives.

But sometimes, we might feel as though we are at the mercy of events or other people, things happen to us and there is nothing we can do to influence our lives. In other words we are ‘at effect’ in our lives.

When we are ‘at effect’ the world does things to us and we can’t change anything. Other people and circumstances control our lives, we might feel we are powerless and can’t influence what happens to us. We are a hostage to other people and circumstances.

Some of the symptoms of being at effect are:

  • Feeling like a victim of circumstances or other people.
  • Being passive, waiting for someone else to get things moving
  • Needing permission from other people to take action.

Being at effect can also show up in how we speak.

  • “There is nothing I can do until they ….”
  • “My family run my life”.
  • “I have to wait until they …”
  • “I need my mother’s approval”
  • “I can’t move on until he apologises for what he did”
  • “I am a coach and I’m waiting for new clients to ask me for the help they need, but they never show up.”
  • etc

When we hear other people (or ourselves) say things like this it indicates that they are ‘at effect’ in this area of their lives. They are telling us that someone else is responsible for how they think and feel and what they do.

Being at effect is a good way to keep chronic emotional problems going indefinitely. If you make other people or circumstances the cause of your problem there is nothing that you can do to change things because they are in control. If they have to change for you to get better, you could be in for a very long and probably unhappy wait.

By now you might be thinking that some people [insert favourite oppressor here] really are causing you physical or emotional distress. It’s true, there are certainly limits and constraints in the physical world and there are people using and abusing power in our social and political worlds. However, all those factors make themselves known through our subjective personal experience. How we respond to them will affect our experience of them and how we choose to act.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
– Viktor Frankl – concentration camp survivor.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité … or not!

The French national motto: Liberté, égalité, fraternité – freedom, equality and fraternity – describes the state of being at cause.

  • Liberty: Having the freedom to act
  • Equality: Having as much power and influence as everyone else
  • Fraternity: Being in a state of goodwill, wanting the best for ourselves and others without impinging on their freedom or equality.

Being at effect is the opposite.

  • Constraint: Feeling boxed in by real or imaginary limitations.
  • Powerlessness: The other people or circumstances have, or seem to have, all the power.
  • Vulnerablity: The people holding the power do not have your interests at heart or may even be hostile towards you.

What can we do to change this?

Fortunately you don’t need to storm the Bastille or behead members of the nobility to reclaim some of your personal freedom, equality and fraternity.

Stepping out of the predicament

One of the problems of being at effect is that if you are in that predicament it can be quite hard to spot, because this may be the ‘normal’ state of affairs for you and you are on the inside of the problem looking out.

It’s hard to read the label if you are inside the jar!

One way of getting outside the jar is to work with a skilled practitioner who is able to see and hear when you are at effect and help you work through it.

Another way to is using drawing to create a tappable metaphor.

All you need a piece of paper and pencil and the willingness to do some tapping.

If you started to panic when I mentioned drawing … relax … this isn’t art school! You do not need to be able to create a Rembrandt or Van Goch of your situation to get the benefit. A simple diagram with stick figures will work really well.

Here’s the kind of diagram that I use:

As you can see Leonardo Da Vinci has nothing to fear from me.

This process consists of two parts:

  1. Defusing the situation, identifying the stress and distress in that situation and resolving it with tapping. Clearing the feelings and beliefs that hold you at effect.
  2. Infusing resources that will help you be different in that situation. After the stress and distress has been soothed it’s much easier to tap for the resources that would help you handle things differently.

Instructions

WARNING: If your being ‘at effect’ is the result of historical or continuing trauma and abuse you need to work with that first. Find a practitioner who knows how to work with these kinds of issues and resolve them before you consider using this process

This process can be used for everyday situations where you feel ‘at effect’ in your life.

Part 1: Defusing The Situation

  1. Pick a situation in which you feel you are ‘at effect’
  2. Take a piece of paper, divide it in half. On one half draw a stick figure diagram of yourself (at effect) and the other half the person or persons (at cause)
  3. On the ‘your half’ list all the qualities and feelings of the stick figure of yourself in that situation. For example:
    1. “she is very small”
    2. “she has her head in her hands”
    3. “she doesn’t feel safe”
    4. “she is in the dark”
    5. etc
  4. On the other side of the paper write a list of all the qualities of that person / those people / the circumstances that affect you. For example:
    1. “they don’t care”
    2. “they are looking the other way”
    3. “they are not interested”
    4. etc
  5. Tap for the ‘at effect’ you, using tapping in the third person to process all the qualities of that you. †
    1. “Even though she is very small, I deeply and completely accept her … she is very small”
    2. “Even though she has her head in her hands, I deeply and completely accept her … she has her head in her hands”
    3. etc
  6. Check the page to see if there are any signs of stress and distress – do more processing if necessary.
  7. When all the stress and distress has been soothed, ask yourself the question “What would it be like to be that me in that situation, now?”

† Important: One of the reasons for drawing a representation of yourself is to help you step back from the problem and look at yourself as if you were another person. From this detached perspective it’s much easier to see what is going on.

Your stick figure self now becomes your stand-in and when you tap you formulate the tapping as if it was for someone else. Rather than tapping on “Even though I am very small … etc”, you tap on “Even though she is very small … etc”. You could think of it as surrogate tapping for yourself.

Now that the stress and distress in the situation has been defused you can move on to the second part

Part 2: Infusing Resources

  1. Look at the ‘you’ in the picture.
  2. What does that ‘you’ need to be more capable?
    1. Emotions – what feelings do they need – e.g. courage, acceptance, determination, etc
    2. Capabilities – what abilities would help them – e.g. the ability to speak up, the ability to stand firm.
  3. Write a list of resources that ‘s/he’ needs. For example
    1. courage
    2. confidence
    3. the ability to speak up
    4. etc
  4. For each resource use the following tapping sequence based on Paradoxical Tapping to work with that ‘you’
    1. Tapping on the eyebrow point “In how many different ways could s/he be more [resource]”
    2. Silent tapping on all other points
    3. For example:
      1. “In how many different ways could she have more courage”
      2. “In how many different ways could she feel more confidence”
      3. “In how many different ways could she speak up for herself”
      4. etc
  5. When you have the feeling that the ‘other you’ has been resourced, ask the question: “What would it be like to be that me in that situation now?” ‡

‡ At the start of the process you distanced yourself from ‘that you’ and the situation by drawing the picture. This allowed you to tap out the distress on behalf of that ‘other you’ and then resource that you so they could be more resourceful in that situation.

The question at the end: “What would it be like to be that me in that situation now?” causes you to ‘re-occupy’ that resourced self and imagine being in that situation. It helps you get back into yourself.

As always I hope you find this useful, please leave a comment or get in touch if you have any questions.

Tapping Into (And Out Of) The Resistance To The Resistance With IEP

Resistance

“What you resist persists”
– Carl Jung

The resistance and I go way back.

I have been very creative in finding ways to avoid and delay important work.

I have also been very creative in finding ways to identify and dismantle limiting beliefs and feelings so that I can move past the resistance and get things done.

Recently I noticed that I was avoiding doing some important work, then I noticed that I was avoiding working with the resistance and that got me thinking.

Our culture is full of references to working / fighting / overcoming the resistance to get to our goals. Books like (the excellent) “The War Of Art” by Stephen Pressfield talk about overcoming resistance, pushing through the things that get in our way to reach our goal.

We are encouraged to resist our resistance, to struggle with it and overcome it (even if that feels like wading through treacle).

Unfortunately, I’m rather more lazy than heroic, so my struggles have often been half hearted.

I realised that all the time I spent struggling with my resistance could be better spent doing the thing I was resisting. It dawned on me that struggling with my resistance was a large part of the resistance.

So how do (did) I struggle with my resistance?

Read moreTapping Into (And Out Of) The Resistance To The Resistance With IEP

Defuse and Aspire: A Two Stage Tapping Process To Prepare For Challenging Situations

ReadyOne of the many things life is good at is presenting us with challenging situations.

We might have to speak in public, go through difficult medical procedures, visit relatives we can’t stand, deal with angry customers and do many more things that we would prefer not to.

You could just grit your teeth and get on with it or you could use tapping processes to ease your apprehension and find the resources you need to be the best you can be in that situation.

So, you might start looking for tapping scripts that ‘work’ for your problem. You might hope with just a few rounds of tapping that you can go from stressed / distressed / anxious / terrified to calm / centred / happy / relaxed.

It’s a simple solution that probably won’t work.

In a culture that values ‘positive’ feelings and rejects (or fears) ‘negative’ feelings many people focus on getting past feeling bad to feeling good as quickly as possible. They hope that if the tapping ends on a high note then all will be well.

In the understandable desire for (premature) reassurance we try to speed past difficult feelings and get to the enjoyable ones.

Unfortunately, to genuinely access your emotional resources it’s more effective to resolve what gets in their way.

Read moreDefuse and Aspire: A Two Stage Tapping Process To Prepare For Challenging Situations

Changing By Changing Your Feelings About Your Feelings

TangleIf you have been a human being for any length of time you have probably noticed that your emotions are complicated.

Feelings rarely come one at a time, usually we experience a complex cocktail of feelings that make up our emotional life.

If we just had one feeling at a time perhaps life would be simpler, softening emotional distress using EFT would certainly be easier: one distressing feeling, a few rounds of tapping, job done!

But most people don’t just feel one feeling at a time. We usually have a tangled collection of feelings. Each of these distressing feelings needs to be addressed with tapping to be soothed.

This is why most distressing emotions require more than a few rounds of tapping.

Some emotions can be very difficult to shift with tapping (or anything else).

We have our original feelings: sadness, anger, disgust, fear, etc, stirred up in response to a challenging situation, and we often have distressing feelings about the original feeling.

Here’s a thought experiment that explores the difference:

  1. Imagine feeling sad about something – notice what this experience is like.
  2. Shake off that feeling.
  3. Now imagine feeling sad and feeling critical of that sadness – notice what this experience is like.
  4. Shake off those feelings.
  5. Now imagine feeling sad and feeling compassionate towards that sadness – notice what this experience is like.
  6. Shake off those feelings.

Those experiences are all probably very different. I imagine that feeling critical of the sadness was a particularly unpleasant combination.

These ‘meta-feelings’, feelings about feelings, add texture to the original feeling and can even act as a glue which holds the original feelings in place making them difficult to tap out. If you ever had to do a lot of rounds of EFT to soothe a ‘simple’ feeling that you expected would have soothed quickly and easily, it might be helpful to explore the feelings about that ‘simple’ feeling.

Most of the time we just notice how we feel about something, not how we feel about feeling something, but being able to identify and work with feelings about our feelings can make a big difference to our emotional lives.

Working With Feelings About The Feelings

  1. Pick a problematic situation. Important: if this situation involves bottomless grief, overwhelming shame or great fear it’s better to choose a less difficult situation.
  2. Make a list of the feelings that situation brings to mind.
  3. Give each feeling a SUDs rating from 0-10.
  4. Choose the feeling with the strongest SUDs scale
  5. Ask yourself: “How do you feel about [that feeling]?”
    1. Write down the feeling, then ask “What else do you feel about [that feeling]?”. Make sure to record each feeling that comes to mind, the important ones will be sorted out later.
    2. Continue to ask “What else do you feel about [that feeling]”? and record the feelings until no more feelings are available.
  6. Go through the list of feelings about [that feeling] giving each a SUDs score of its own.
  7. Tap out the highest scoring feeling about [that feeling]. “Even though I feel [this feeling] about feeling [that feeling]” etc.
  8. Review the list of feelings about [that feeling].
    1. Tap out the next most intense feeling about [that feeling].
    2. Repeat this process until all the feelings about [that feeling] have been neutralised.
  9. How strong is the SUDs rating of the original feeling now? If any strength is left in that feeling reduce it by tapping it out.
  10. Review the list of feelings about the situation, if there is a strong emotional charge on any other of those feelings, repeat the process until the feelings about the feelings have been neutralised.
  11. How do you feel about the original problem now?

An example:

Let’s say I’m struggling to get some work done.

When I pay attention to how I feel about that situation, I am aware that I feel unmotivated, dull, and sleepy.

When I work out the strength of those feelings (SUDs) unmotivated is 8 out of 10, dull is 6 out of 10 and sleepy is 3 out of ten.

Obviously feeling unmotivated is the strongest so I ask myself “How do I feel about feeling unmotivated?”. I get the following list:

  • apathetic
  • angry
  • guilty
  • hopeless
  • ashamed
  • resentful

Going through the list assessing the SUDs of each of the feelings about feeling unmotivated I get the following scores:

  • apathetic 1/10
  • angry 8/10
  • guilty 1/10
  • hopeless 0/10
  • ashamed 6/10
  • resentful 1/10

Obviously feeling ‘angry about feeling unmotivated’ and feeling ‘ashamed about feeling unmotivated’ are the meta-feelings with biggest charge.

I tap on those meta-feelings

Using “Even though I feel angry about feeling unmotivated, I deeply and completely accept myself” as the setup phrase and “I feel angry about feeling unmotivated” I tap out the anger.

And, using “Even though I feel ashamed about feeling unmotivated, I deeply and completely accept myself” as the setup phrase and “I feel ashamed about feeling unmotivated” I tap out the shame.

Even though I haven’t tapped on it, I find that the unmotivated feeling has dropped to a 4 and easily yields to a few rounds of ‘standard’ EFT.

Please try out this process and I’d love to hear about your experiences using it.

You don’t need to use this formal process to work with the feelings about your feelings, you can easily ask yourself (or someone you are working with): “How do you feel about that feeling?” to find more ways to work with distressing feelings.

How To Tap Into The Gifts Of The Shadow

Shadow
Image courtesy of LaVladina

In ‘How can the people who annoy you help you get more from your tapping?’ I wrote about a tapping technique that can help you work with the ‘negative’ parts of the ‘shadow’. Using people’s ability to annoy us we can identify some of the disowned parts of ourselves that need to be released with tapping.

Our shadows are formed in childhood where certain parts of ourselves that are deemed unacceptable by our family, friends or culture are suppressed so that we can get along with the people we are with.

Because these impulses and feelings are so unacceptable to us that we may not know they are there. We project what we cannot own ourselves onto other people. When we can spot the projection, we can use that to access the unacceptable impulses in ourselves and process them with tapping.

So far so good, but there’s more to the Shadow than bad or negative impulses.

Read moreHow To Tap Into The Gifts Of The Shadow

Simple Acceptance Tapping

How Accepting What You Are Trying To Get Rid Of Can Help Change It

Image courtesy of Luke Peterson
Image courtesy of Luke Peterson

It’s understandable that most people don’t like their difficult feelings and want to get rid of them.

Most people think that you have to reject something to get rid of it, believing that if you reject it, it will go away. If you accept it, then it will stay.

You might be able to throw away an unwanted object, but rejecting unwanted psychological or emotional states doesn’t seem to work that way.

Read moreSimple Acceptance Tapping

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