Are you aware that you could be unknowingly accumulating general stress or trauma from major events at world or local level, which is sitting in you as a sort of “silent stress”? Since the COVID pandemic started, we seem to be increasingly experiencing a sea of challenging mass events that can make us feel unsafe and vulnerable – whether we realise it or not, whether we feel it or not.
The year 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Here in Australia, my main memory is the image on television of the planes flying into the towers, which was shown repeatedly over the following days and weeks. Back then, I hadn’t yet come across tapping – unfortunately! I’ve done a lot of self-care tapping over the past 4-5 years or so, including a focus on clearing major traumas, but I never thought there were any negative impacts on me from 9/11. Until…
I needed to quickly find a tappable event during a refresher EFT Level 2 workshop to practice the Tearless Trauma (TT) Technique in pairs (I was already qualified at that point as an EFTi Practitioner). I’d already done a lot of tapping on myself and with a practitioner on past bothersome and traumatic events, so I was struggling to come up with something! As I read the manual for inspiration, I noticed a mention of 9/11 as an example of a community trauma. So I chose to tap on that because I at least had those tv images in my mind, albeit without any emotional intensity attached. I was therefore very surprised at the intensity of emotion that came up once we started tapping, but that subsided well with the TT technique.
At home in the next week, I thought I'd do more self-care tapping on this event because, in the following days another image came to mind of me standing outside my son’s Year 1 primary classroom that morning, before anyone in Australia had really heard any news from the US. Other parents were talking quietly to each other outside the class and one told me what they’d just heard on the morning news. So as I remembered this, I tapped using Tell The Story:
Even though I feel unsettled, it sounds as if something really bad has happened…
As the “Unsettled” intensity reduced to 2, I was going to start retelling this part of the story to check for other emotions, when my mind took me back to before arriving at the classroom. This was a strong feeling of standing at the school gate, just about to walk into the school grounds. I sensed that something did not feel right; SUD intensity was 7. So I tapped:
Even though something just doesn't feel right here…
Next came an awareness of other adults and children coming by, and me sensing some of the adults seemed panicky but unusually quiet, trying to hide their emotions from the children. I didn't know what was going on, which made me feel unsafe at a 10, so I tapped:
“Even though I feel unsafe because all the adults seem to be panicking…
When this subsided to 5, a different aspect came up:
If all the adults feel unsafe, I’m scared no-one’s going to protect me!
Next came “ET I’m really scared I can't protect my kids, what if there’s an attack here next!” (Remembering of course, that at that point we had no idea it was only happening in the US).
I went through the memories again several times from the morning until seeing the first tv reports, until I’d tapped all the emotional intensities down and they felt “cleared”. Now everything felt just like unemotional facts.
Since then I’ve wondered how unknowingly carrying that unresolved stress had influenced my life and behaviours. I do know that for a long time I had unexplained fears for my children’s safety and whilst I had tapped and cleared obvious events, perhaps this was one hidden contributing experience.
It was really useful to discover the impacts on me of 9/11, because the same thing has happened twice since! Firstly, at Christmas two years ago I felt increasingly unsettled and I didn't know why. But I happened across some online free tapping for the Australian bushfires, because we’d had fires around the country from about November, including some quite close to us. So I thought I'd tap along out of interest.
I was extremely surprised after only 1 round of tapping to burst into tears. I realised the tv images of the fires, and the smoke smell drifting our way over a week or two, had been slowly raising my stress levels without me noticing. After tapping about these fears my overall tension level definitely dropped!
Similarly, recently I thought I was feeling ok about Covid because we have been extremely lucky here in South Australia not to be badly affected. And as an HSP (highly sensitive person), I've intentionally avoided much of the news. Then recently there’s been a big push for vaccination, so everyone’s talking about that. I noticed a few weeks ago that I really wasn’t sleeping well… my mind just couldn’t switch off, and then I started waking at night feeling on edge for no apparent reason.
Luckily my tapping about 9/11 and the bushfires came to mind. I thought “Hmm, is there something big that’s been happening that could be affecting me? … What about COVID?!”. So I started tapping to sneak up on it:
Even though I’m feeling on edge, and I wonder if it’s about COVID, I deeply and completely accept myself.…
Even though “COVID”…
The tapping uncovered that my body and mind tension reflected unrecognised fear about various aspects of the pandemic. Just a few minutes of tapping brought a release of tears and calmness. Since then, I’ve been sleeping deeply again.
And today, a client came feeling agitated. After some initial Tap & Talk rounds, she realised she’s been responding unknowingly to the news about Afghanistan. I feel I was in a better place to help her work on this because tapping had already cleared my own emotions on some similar events. This meant my own emotions were less likely to get triggered, and I also had some insight into her possible feelings of unsafety and vulnerability.
So I would strongly recommend when “big things” are happening, even if you feel they aren’t immediately affecting you or your family, it could still be well worth tapping. And if you’re an HSP, then I would definitely recommend tapping on something like “Even though I feel on edge…” or “Even though I don’t feel quite right” to see if tapping brings up what’s happening for you.
As an HSP, I’ve come to recognise that sometimes I catch myself seeming suspiciously calm – and when I tap I find that I was actually in a frozen state that I’d gone into quickly without knowing it. So, as with my COVID reactions, I reflect on what might have happened that other people would be bothered by, and tap on that. Once you uncover something, you can do more specific tapping on different aspects to reduce or clear the negativity. And then watch out for any positive shifts, such as improved sleep or feeling overall less anxious.
A broader benefit of self-care tapping, and/or tapping with a practitioner, in the face of troubling world events is that as it reduces your negative emotions, it increases your heart’s coherence. As you move yourself towards more serenity, you are also strengthening the collective field for others to join you in that more peaceful positive energy. This is one way you can help spread peace in your community and the world, which can reduce feelings of powerlessness in the face of mass negativity.
With EFT Tapping, we often focus our work on reducing or clearing the emotional intensity of specific events that directly and obviously happened to us. However, my tapping experiences show there is also value in tapping to acknowledge and address how we might be feeling about the news we’re hearing and seeing. As we do this, it puts us in a better position to then support or family and/or clients who may also be experiencing these kinds of silent stress from world events.
Many thanks to Sejual Shah for her comments on an earlier draft of this article.
Readers may also find these related EFTi articles useful:
The “I don’t feel anything” problem (Lena Chen)
Is Breaking News Breaking Your Heart (Sophie Cayer)