My friend, Theresa (not her real name) needed a session. She had been feeling “down” and “off in a box” at her job. While she acknowledged that she had created a wonderful opportunity for herself at her current job, she lately found herself feeling trapped, decidedly “off her path” and unable to market herself in her chosen field.
Before we did any tapping, she talked about all the feelings her work life was triggering in her: overwhelm, confusion, frustration, fear of starting anything, and fear of stepping out and pursuing her dream. She was very upset, and I was briefly concerned that we might go around and around without ever finding some resolution and healing in the time that we had together. In retrospect, I was clearly "in my own way" from the beginning!
After listening to her express her frustrations, I gently offered a direction for our session. I was keenly aware that we only had about half an hour to see what would happen, and I had it in my head that we could potentially work on the energy of fear that seemed to overwhelm her so much. I usually avoid interrupting people and making observations, but I felt I was on a roll:
Excuse me for interrupting you, but it sounds like there is a lot of fear. You don’t have to tell me what the fear is about --- unless you need to.
She responded quite strongly that she was stuck in confusion - not fear. I finally took this as my cue to remember to step back and let her express as much as she needed to in her own time. It wasn't easy at first, because I was just so sure I knew a good doorway for us. I remembered my role as witness, and quietly waited while she reconnected with what she had been going through.
No sooner had I stepped back when a crystal clear path began to naturally unfold. She said, quite suddenly and unequivocally:
I’m never going to come together. I’m never going to get out of this place. I’m an eternal student. I’ll never master anything. I may have done it once, but I feel overwhelmed. I feel like a little girl. It’s too big. There are too many steps…
Jade: “What do these feelings remind you of? Do you remember feeling this way before?”
While doing a continuous tapping, she said she remembered feeling that way about homework as a young girl. She remembered being seven years old and living with her mother who, in her words, could be "angry and terrifying.” Theresa’s survival strategy had always been to make herself small and retreat. Because her mom’s “rage fits” were so terrifying, she often felt like she could not ask for help and had to (in her words) "be perfect right out of the box --- fully formed at all times" to avoid her mother's anger. As she tapped, she spoke her truth as she recalled it:
I feel completely insufficient. Something is deeply wrong with me. What the fuck was I going to do? This is the end of the world. I remember having to trace a continent or something. It seemed impossible. I saw all these steps --- cities and rivers, running together… I freaked out… I thought I had to be perfect… I had a meltdown right there… panic... this deep welling up --- everything went white and dissolved into nothingness. I couldn’t ask for help. There was no one to help me. My life was over. I’ve failed third grade. There is and was no way out. It never occurred to me to ask for help. I felt I had no options.
Jade: And you were living with someone terrifying?
Theresa: (laughs) Yes. I felt like I was always supposed to know. I couldn’t learn like other people. I had to just know. I felt it was over for me, like, “It’s over for you. It’s over for you.”
Jade: (offering tapping on the Side of Hand point) "Even though it’s over for you..."
Theresa: (repeats several times) It’s over for you. I think my mom eventually did ask me what was wrong and helped me, but it was horrible.
At this point, I consciously made what I call a strong visual offer (a la Inner Theater or Matrix Reimprinting): I asked Theresa if she saw the little girl in her mind’s eye. She indicated that she did --- that she saw her sitting at her little desk --- blond bangs and glasses.
As we talked and tapped, I asked Theresa how the little girl was feeling and how she felt about seeing the little girl struggling so much. Next, I asked if the little girl saw her watching her. I then spontaneously spoke for Theresa and she repeated:
Hi, I see you’re going through a lot. I’m coming back in time to help you. You’ll be helping me too.
I asked how the little girl responded, and Theresa indicated that the little girl was curious about her. Would she like to follow along with a tapping game? There was then a gentle back and forth where the little girl spoke her truth in that moment, including “I can’t do this, I don’t know how to do this, I’m not good at this.” After a round of sticking with the little girl's negative feelings, I threw in some positive reframing language that Theresa enthusiastically picked up:
I can learn how to do this. I’m learning right now. Everybody’s got to start somewhere.
By the third round, Theresa indicated that the little girl was ready to go to her grandmother’s house and roll around. She also noticed that there was a big smile on the little girl's face!
Theresa’s voice carried an audible lightness as this point, indicating to me that she was clearly at a good place to end our session. It was perfect timing --- because her friend had just arrived at the door.
I received this email from Theresa the next day:
I can only describe our session as a lyrical, gentle journey to a surprising place.; defining the core feeling, and ending up in a past event which, in hindsight, I'd always remembered clearly, but had always disregarded as kind of a "nothing" event. A small player. Well, who knew? Ahem, most definitely not my conscious wiley-mind - which can apparently drive by discomfort sooo smoothly --- I don't even see it there, on the side of the road, with it's thumb out...
When we hung up, I can absolutely say that where there had been dispiritedness and a fair measure of panic around the topic, I instead felt my heart warm, and my spirit glow-ey. And my funnybone back! Ah, now that's success.
Today, 20 degree weather aside, I remain warm, light of heart, and in a really excellent focused and creative flow. I'm having a great day, for no reason. The best kind. And - I actually look forward to doing a bit more with this one. Imagine, wanting to 'go there'!
Thank you. I needed to hear myself try to rationalize how I was feeling.
When I was writing this article, I thought it was going to be about the power of following feelings back in time: "What does this remind you of?" However, I think the real crux of the story is about how I was essentially asked to get the heck out of the way of what she needed to express. I'm thankful I recognized the need to shift gears, because not only was I rewarded with valuable information, but I was given the opportunity to trust her process. Conversely, I think my playing the role of director actually provided the impetus for her to step more confidently into her own power in that moment: When she asserted her feelings and I stepped aside and accepted her need to talk, that was when our true rapport kicked in and the healing doorways opened.
Jade Barbee is an EFT International Accredited Certified EFT Master Trainer of Trainers and Advanced Practitioner in Southern Vermont, US. He offers mentoring, coaching and supervision to practitioners and healthcare providers. He also offers EFT sessions in person or by phone or Skype. Jade is always learning new ways of tapping - helping himself and others integrate artful practice into daily life. Visit him online at www.emotionalengine.com.
From the EFTfree Archives, which are now a part of EFT International .
Originally published on February 7, 2010.